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19th March 2021
Plans for a medical apprenticeship are being drawn up by Health Education England, the BMA, the GMC, and the Medical Schools Council, amongst others. What does this mean for future aspiring Doctors who want to get into Medicine?

What Do We Know About Medical Apprenticeship Plans?

This idea is in the very early stages, according to Health Education England. In the consultation, the proposal outlines that there would be 100 places available, and the apprenticeship would take 60 months (five years). They’re hoping to get the plans approved by the end of the year – and you can read the details here.

Why Are Apprenticeships Being Developed?

The idea of a Medicine apprenticeship is that it widens access to Medicine because it creates a new viable pathway to becoming a Doctor for people who can’t afford to fund a degree or stop working in order to study.

“The expectation is that such an apprenticeship could make the profession more accessible, more diverse and more representative of local communities while retaining the same high standards of training,” explained Health Education England’s Deputy Medical Director, Professor Liz Hughes.

Would Entry Requirements Be Different?

The proposal document outlines requirements that are very typical for Medicine: GCSEs in maths, science and English; A-Level Chemistry and possibly Biology, Physics or Maths. It also suggests there could be graduate-entry apprenticeships, too.

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How Much Would Apprentices Be Paid?

There’s no detail on the hours or wages for apprentices on this programme. However, the government outlines minimum pay for apprentices and that’s currently £4.15 per hour for under 19s or apprentices in their first year of employment. When they pass their first year and are older than 19, the pay then increases to the minimum wage of between £6.45 and £8.72 depending on their age.

What Do Aspiring Medics Think Of This Idea?

We asked you to share your thoughts with us on Instagram. Responses were split: some thought it would be a great way to widen access, and loved the idea; others felt that Medicine degrees are already hands-on and expressed concerns about the quality of learning or creating a two-tier system of Doctors.

Here are some highlights:

An anonymous aspiring Medic who’s starting a Medicine degree in September said that they love the idea of getting paid a small amount while learning. “I would easily and happily take seven years to qualify if I was getting paid at the same time. If I had the choice, I would almost certainly choose the apprenticeship.”

Another Offer Holder told us it was a “great idea for apprenticeships to widen access to Medicine, especially for those already working in allied careers such as nursing, pharmacy or physiotherapy.”

Bailey, who’s waiting to hear back from Medical Schools, echoed the idea that more needs to be done to widen access. She told us: “It should be promoted for communities that may not have access, ordinarily, to education like Med School due to socioeconomic factors.”

But Momina, who’s also starting Medicine in September, said she’s worried it would create two tiers of Doctors. “Irrespective of the actual quality of the Doctor, it will have a significant impact on public perspectives,” she said. “We already have physician associates roles, which is getting very popular and it’s something we are trying to get the public and staff used to… We definitely need more Doctors, and to help with that we need current systems to improve by increasing spaces and widening participation.”

But Maddie thinks it would boost lead to more experience. “Unfortunately, being in university for years sometimes doesn’t give people as much ward experience compared to the nursing programme,” she said. “During my gap year I’ve been working in a hospital to gain work experience… I’ve noticed a lot can be learnt on the ward that can’t always be taught… Medical apprenticeships can help widen participation since we know how competitive and expensive the degree course is.”

The BMA confirmed that apprentices will be required to meet the same GMC standards as current medical students, so ‘medical curricular would not differ between studentships and apprenticeships’.

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