Side-effects of medical cuts (1 of 2)

June 30, 2011

Your news story "Graduate doctors dread deep cuts" (23 June) rightly highlights the negative impact that the withdrawal of funding for graduate-entry medical degrees will have on widening access to the profession. However, cutting such funding also constitutes another attack on the humanities and the social sciences.

Not only have many graduate entrants to medicine taken undergraduate degrees in these disciplines but those who study medicine for six, rather than five, years often do so as they have intercalated in social scientific or humanities disciplines such as epidemiology, science and society, leadership, history, general humanities and, perhaps most notably, healthcare ethics and law. These courses have proved an important funding stream for the departments that provide them. Furthermore, this is an instance of the humanities and social sciences having a direct impact on the profession through broadening the perspectives of its practitioners and, often, its future leaders.

It is vital that the future medical profession contain individuals capable of interrogating medicine differently. Graduate entrants and those who take intercalation degrees are widely recognised by those in medical education and the wider profession to be a source of such individuals.

Nathan Emmerich, Queen's University Belfast

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