Equality and diversity in medical schools
Medicine has long been one of the most popular, fulfilling and prestigious career choices in the UK. It is essential that there is equality of opportunity to enter this rewarding career path and that the process of admission is transparent.
This report aims to highlight important equality and diversity questions within medical education and to identify areas for further research.
In recent decades, the student composition of medical schools has changed with regards to the age, ethnicity and gender of students. Many of these changes have made a positive contribution to the medical profession and have gone some way to increasing the extent to which the profession reflects wider society. The demography of medical schools remains an enormously important topic of discussion.
This paper examines issues faced by medical school applicants and students in relation to the following areas: socio-economic background, age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, trans issues, disability and religion or belief. The report also examines admission policies and procedures.
As the 2009 report from the Panel on Fair Access to the professions highlighted, access to a professional career in the UK has become more and more inflexible over time. Despite demographic changes in medical schools, the majority of medical school students are still drawn from professional and managerial backgrounds. The age, ethnicity and gender profile of medical school students continues to raise important questions, both about the structure of medical education and about the future composition of the profession.
This report is intended to outline the current demography of medical schools, to highlight important questions for discussion and to identify areas which would benefit from further research. It is hoped that it will be informative and form a basis for debate and future policy decisions. The BMA Equal Opportunities Committee is committted to promoting equality and diversity for the medical workforce, including a strong focus at the medical school level. The committee advises the BMA on matters relating to equality of opportunity within medical education.
Professor Bhupinder Sandhu
Chair, Equal Opportunities Committee
Equality and diversity in medical schools (2009) - PDF