in the UK, becoming a doctor and practicing medicine has been, predominantly, associated
with the more privileged members of society, with medicine as a career conventionally
only being accessible to those individuals attending the most elite schools and
receiving the best education. However, over the years and as society has
evolved, many efforts have been made to try and change this mentality and
diversify the population of doctors. It has long been felt that the cohort of
doctors in the UK should represent individuals from all walks of life; backgrounds,
ethnicities and gender, to be able to best understand and serve the general
population and improve the quality of health care provided.
the ‘Selecting for Excellence Report’1 examined the issue of
widening participation within medicine, in an attempt to establish strategies
to ‘reach out’ to and encourage a wider population of students to consider
medicine as a profession. The report concluded that over 75% of the students in
medical schools across the UK came from only 20% of schools2. Furthermore,
the General Medical Council recently reported that over 60% of current trainee
doctors were from affluent areas and attended fee paying or independent schools
3, illustrating the prevailing unequal representation of differing
backgrounds within the medical profession4.
have been various causes attributed to the under-representation of young people
from lower socioeconomic backgrounds within medicine. The 2012 ‘Fair access to
Professional Careers’ report5 conveyed several important factors
that they have found to likely be contributing to this under-representation such
as a lack of knowledge of the medical school application process and a considerable
lack of outreach programmes5.
of these findings, the ‘Selecting for Excellence Report’ established a
subject-specific outreach framework, to be implemented by medical schools
across the country, to engage with individuals from groups with lower involvement
rates in medical education1. The guidance promotes the creation of programmes,
targeting children at all stages of their education, to encourage and inspire
medicine as a career. The framework also suggests that these programmes, to be
most effective, ideally should be run by medical student ambassadors who
reflect the social demographic of the target group to endorse the idea that
medical school is ‘for pupils like me’1.