Support for Poorer Students Helps More Become Doctors

Extending medical degree program by a year makes room for individual help

FRIDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Students from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds can do as well at medical school as their more socially advantaged counterparts with some extra support and more time to complete their degree, according to an article published in the May 17 issue of BMJ.

Pamela B. Garlick, of King's College London, and Gavin Brown, of the University of Leicester, in the United Kingdom, describe the extended medical degree program at King's College London School of Medicine, which enrolls 50 students a year from the 100 poorest performing public schools in inner London, and splits the first two years of the curriculum over three years to make time for small-group teaching sessions and personalized learning programs. The students also have dedicated study facilities and student mentors.

While middle class and ethnic minority students account for 76 percent and 51 percent of the conventional student body, respectively, they account for 31 percent and 91 percent of the extended medical degree program student cohort, respectively, the authors note. The retention rate is 90 percent for the special program, versus 97 percent for conventional entrants.

"As a result of this widening participation program, a new type of doctor is being created that, among other things, better reflects the social diversity of London's population," the authors write.

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