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Advice about medical careers 'needed in primary schools'

18/11/2014 Joanna
Medical schools should be sending ambassadors into primary schools to help encourage a wider take-up in the profession.

Several case studies have been carried out by the Medical Schools Council to try to find out what should be included in outreach programmes so that people from poorer backgrounds consider a career as a doctor.

At the moment, two-fifths of doctors attend non-selective state schools, while a third have been privately educated. 

Professor Tony Weetman, chair of the Selecting for Excellence Executive Group, pointed out that the journey to becoming a doctor starts long before a person fills in a UCAS form or speaks to a career adviser.

"The commitment in terms of hard work and academic achievement is of course essential, but before that must come the awareness that studying medicine is an option," he added. 

Medical schools have a responsibility to make sure that "potentially excellent candidates" are not left to find out about the possibility of a career in medicine on their own. Professor Weetman believes that the profession is for anyone who has the necessary ability and commitment.

The new advice says this process should start at seven years of age, with youngsters given the chance to meet doctors, visit universities and take part in practical workshops.

Medical schools should also be working hard to engage with parents and carers to dispel myths and allay fears about the profession. 

But the Medical Schools Council pointed out that outreach is only one part of the student lifecycle, as admissions, transition to university, student support and future career options all need to be considered. 

These groups are also advised to use the skills, expertise, knowledge and resources on offer from their respective universities. This could be for help with training medical students, organising various activities or developing promotional materials.

By Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801760759-ADNFCR
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