As you may have heard recently, the government has confirmed that there will be 500 extra medical school places available next year (2018 entry). This is to help reduce NHS staffing pressures by producing more home-grown doctors and it is also an attempt to increase diversity in the medical profession as many of the places will be aimed at students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
On initial thought, this seems like brilliant news for aspiring medics and I’ll admit, as an medical applicant who applied for 2017 entry, when hearing about this proposal last year, was quite jealous of the fact that I had just missed out!
Like most people, when I heard that there were going to be more medical school places, I automatically assumed that it’d somehow be ‘easier’ to get into medicine and that the competition would be less fierce.
However, I realise that this may not necessarily be the case. The availability of more places may encourage those that would not have otherwise considered applying to medicine to apply as they may think that they now have a better chance of getting an offer. This then means that the competition level may not decrease but could in fact increase. I may be wrong – more people may not decide to apply for medicine in the next application cycle, but I think it’s important for potential applicants to be realistic, rather than just assuming that their application has a better chance of being successful.
The most obvious positive is of course that more medical applicants will be successful in gaining a medical school place compared to previous years, as there are more places to fill.
One of the aims of these plans is to increase diversity in medicine, which can only be a positive thing – patients are a diverse bunch of people and it’s important that doctors and patients alike can relate to one another.
Another positive is that this will eventually lead to more doctors, who will hopefully work for the NHS and therefore reduce the demand on staff.
One of the reasons the government is introducing more medical school places is due to the shortage of doctors currently – introducing more medical school places is not an immediate solution to this problem, however, as it takes at least ten years to train and become a specialist doctor.
Another thing that may be a challenge is how medical schools will cope with more students and the increased demand on resources that will come with this.
As with anything, the first time something is done is not necessarily the smoothest so the first year with additional students may be very much trial and error!
Words: Tahmeena Amin
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