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BBC Wales's Louise Elliott reports
"There are no guarantees of a place on a course"
 real 56k

Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 06:58 GMT 07:58 UK
Med schools target 'ordinary' pupils
Medical students in a ward
Fewer young people want to train as doctors
Pupils from state schools in the poorer areas of Wales are being urged to consider entering the medical profession.

As part of a new initiative designed to shake off its elitist image, medical schools are turning to students from places not normally associated with careers in medicine.

med students on ward
Hundreds more doctors are being trained
The University of Wales College of Medicine has confirmed it is seeking out talented teenagers from less privileged backgrounds.

At the last count, just 5% of students at the medical school in Cardiff came from the poorer groups in society.

Efforts are now being made to even out the balance.

Professor Ilora Finlay from the University of Wales College of Medicine believes that it is all about confidence.

She said: "What we need to do is attract the children from those backgrounds where they don't have the confidence in themselves and say please come and study with us we want you, your just as goos as anybody else."

Teenagers from schools in areas like Merthyr Tydfil, the Cynon Valley, and Cardiff, are all part of the project which is targeting non-traditional areas in the search for new talent.

There are no guarantees of a place on a course.

Numbers dropping

However, all who apply are being assured that, with the right grades, they will have the same chance of success, as anyone else.

Recent research has shown that number of young people applying to study medicine has dropped significantly - despite efforts to recruit more doctors.

The Universities and Colleges Admission Service reported that applicants for medicine dropped more than 3% to 9,291 last year.

At the same time, the number of medical school places is being increased by more than 1,000 in a bid to tackle the shortage of NHS doctors.

Potential students

Last year's fall in applications followed a decision by UCAS to bring forward the deadline for medicine and dentistry by two months in order to reduce the number of candidates.

Medical schools had previously had difficulty in coping with the administration involved in processing applications and interviewing potential students.

The NHS is chronically short of trained doctors but the current problem is compounded by the fact that the biggest drop in applicants is among men.

'Disappointment'

Women doctors are more likely to take career breaks or work part-time - meaning even larger numbers needed to be trained.

The British Medical Association has pointed out that the number of applicants to medical schools has dropped 20% over the past three years.

And the Council of Heads of Medical Schools has expressed disappointment that the number is continuing to decline when there is a rapid expansion in the number of student places.

Entrants to medical school generally need to gain at least 3 As at A level to obtain a place, so the council will be monitoring to ensure the entry qualifications remain the same.

The BMA is of the view that the high cost of studying medicine is putting many young people off.

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See also:

05 Feb 00 | Health
GP recruitment drive launched
09 Sep 00 | Health
NHS to draft in foreign doctors
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