November 21, 2005

Medical Schools

The Times comments on the increased popularity of foreign universities in the light of high domestic competition for places and impending top-up fees. It focuses on those hoping to study dentistry or medicine.

British medical students are heading for eastern European universities to beat fierce competition for places in the UK and the prospect of rising fees. They calculate that the chances of being accepted on courses in countries such as the Czech Republic are better than at UK universities and that the cost, including living expenses, is lower. The option has become increasingly attractive since the admission of more countries to the European Union last year. Doctors and dentists with degrees from within the EU are able to practise in Britain without taking conversion courses.
Komel Ali, 20, a medical student from Preston, Lancashire, studying medicine, studied at the independent Kirkham Grammar, a girls’ school near Preston. She chose Prague because of the strong competition for places in British medical schools. The latest figures in Britain show that 17,826 students applied to UK medical schools in 2004, but only 7,955 were accepted. Some of the most popular universities had 17 applications per place.

Read it in full here.

It seems crazy that the health sector, so in need of qualified staff is managing without so many eager applicants. The lucky few who are selected and make it though years of study are clearly very able. However, highly intelligent doctors are of little use if their efficiency is hampered by long hours and strict targets, or if waiting lists prevent you from seeing a specialist and getting treatment for weeks or months. I'm sure many would be happy with a merely average doctor if it meant they could get treatment immediately.

The capacity of the country’s medical schools is constrained by the availability of government funds. Private medical schools exist though I’m not sure what hoops must be jumped though to set one up. The low prominence of private schools may reflect the high fees charged or the fact that they’re hard to create in the first place. If it’s unambiguously the former you could say that state subsidising of medical study is all that’s preventing an even greater shortage. However, it’s the government that ultimately sets the salaries that determine whether a large investment in education will be worth it years down the line.

I don’t know what the solution to the ‘doctors crisis’ is. Yet there must be an option that doesn’t involve turning away willing medical students on our doorstep whilst we poach much needed staff from developing nations.

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. From what I hear from people who I know that work in the healthcare industry, the problem is not the number of people being recruited but the sharp increase in the number of people leaving the profession (other than retirement from old age). This, again from hearsay, is because doctors are unsatisfied not with pay (their salary increases of late have been pretty steep compared to inflation, although private sector work still pays better), but because of a total disenchantment with the way the health service has become. The reforms of the past 8 years have left a health service very top-heavy on management (which is where most of the resources go); consequently staff are dissatisfied and leaving in droves. We should not be looking to rope thousands more into the profession; rather ask the question why so many wish to leave it and fix this problem accordingly.

    21 Nov 2005, 17:26

  2. Komel Ali

    Hi,I’m the Komel Ali you refer to in your discussion on medical schools in England.Most of what you say is true and I was driven to Prague due to the fierce competition one faces in England.I would like to clarify however that it is not cheaper by any means to study in Prague.International tuition fees have to be paid which amount to around £6200 a year.On top of that are living expenses which may be slightly less depending on the sort of lifestyle you lead as is anywhere but when flights back home are added really works out quite expensive.So to anyone that is looking into studying abroad,especially Prague which is all I can comment on,it is relatively easier to be accepted into the university but as far as expenses go,do not expect it to be cheaper in any way as this could be quite misleading.Although the entrance exam and interview is less competitive,other means (financial) must be met also to determine a successful university life.If anyone would like any more information then you can e-mail me… you.

    30 Oct 2006, 17:00

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