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Medical students face new NHS entry exam

Written by Nicole Chalmers · Sunday 22nd December 2013

The Health Service Journal have announced this week that medical students could be given a license to practice medicine in the NHS as soon as they graduate.

What do we know?

  • The proposal comes from Health Education England.
  • Students would qualify by taking an additional exam when applying for the Foundation Programme.
  • The aim is to improve the standard of medics joining the NHS.
  • Another driving force is to reduce the rising number of med students applying for the two-year Foundation Programme (currently the only way for junior doctors to achieve a full license to practice). Last year there were 297 more applicants than places.
  • If approved the plan would require changes to the Medical Act.

Statement from the BMA

Dr Andrew Collier, Co-Chair of the BMA’s Junior Doctor Committee said: “We do not feel the case has yet been made for a wholesale change in foundation programme selection process, especially as the system was significantly overhauled and implemented only one year ago. There is little evidence that another new national exam over and above current medical school assessment methods will add any benefit either for graduating students or the NHS as a whole. It is also unlikely to solve the ongoing oversubscription to the foundation programme which will only be addressed by well thought out workforce planning.”

Will it work?

This proposal has certainly come as a surprise to me so soon after recent changes to the Foundation Programme selection process. I would love to know what you think about it. Do you agree with Dr Collier’s statement? If the plan goes ahead do you think it will be effective in achieving the desired outcomes? Please post your comments and thoughts.


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