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Medical schools have been urged to reach out to schools more to help raise the aspirations of prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In its first ever guidance on how to widen access to courses in medicine, the Medical Schools Council says masterclasses, summer schools and sending medical school student ambassadors into schools to inspire pupils have all proved effective – but more needs to be done to redress the social class imbalance of students entering medical schools.
Medical schools should evaluate their activities, such as school visits and campus tours, by surveying participants and getting feedback from teachers, the guidance says.
The Office for Fair Access to higher education, which advised on the guidance and commissioned the research it is based on, said it represented “a major development in helping to improve access to the elite medical profession”.
OFFA Director Professor Les Ebdon said: “The guidance highlights the importance of sustained, targeted schemes to raise aspirations and attainment, which starts at an early age because children form attitudes about 'what kind of career is right for me' many years before the actual university application process begins. Alongside this, teenagers need good information, outreach and guidance about subject choices and work experience, and to help them prepare for medical school admissions interviews."
The guidance, A journey to medicine: outreach guidance, is part of a bank of resources produced by the two-year Selecting for Excellence project. The final report of the project, to be published next month, will include further detailed evidence about issues of access to medical schools and firm recommendations on working to address these.
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