Letter: Clinical cavity

October 12, 2001

Medical and dental students must understand the structure and function of the human body in order to understand and treat disease ("Final-year medical students not ready for wards", THES , October 5). But the number of clinically qualified staff in preclinical departments has declined as salaries have fallen.

Departments once based in medical schools are now in bioscience schools and are more interested in producing science graduates than contributing to medical training. Such graduates have undergone increasingly specialised courses with little consideration of whole-body function.

Senior staff are retiring, the research assessment exercise has led to recruitment of staff with little interest in the clinical significance of their subject, and the integration of clinical and preclinical courses is unattainable because of entrenched attitudes in both camps.

The government hopes to cure the shortage of doctors by increasing the number of medical students, but we are short of suitable staff to train them.

David B. Ferguson

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