Leader: Broader skills are just what doctor ordered

December 6, 2002

The reservations of British medical academics about the doctors who will emerge from the new fast-track, graduate-entry degrees will not stop the change to new patterns of medical education. Universities have competed fiercely to develop the new degrees and to get the students they bring in, while the National Health Service is adamant that it needs the extra doctors. There are likely to be more such courses.

The argument reflects discussions in other areas of higher education. No professional can glean a lifetime's knowledge during their undergraduate life. A postgraduate qualification building on a bachelors degree has become the basis for many careers, and the Bologna process means that it is becoming the pattern across Europe.

There is no reason for medicine to retain a unique educational route of its own devising. There have been fears that doctors with the new qualifications will lack the esteem of those from longer-established courses. But it is possible that instead they will be seen as more broadly qualified, better able to cope in the modern NHS and keener on professional development throughout their careers.

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