Students told to steer clear of medicine amid excess of applicants

by reestheskin on 26/05/2014

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I haven’t read the full article, as I do not subscribe. The Wellcome Trust newsletter, SPIN, quoted as follows:

The science and universities minister, David Willetts, has expressed concerns over the numbers of students pursuing medical degrees, pointing to the fact that “the number of young people – and it does tend to be more girls than boys – with an aspiration to do medicine way exceeds the number of places that the NHS is likely to have.” With a need for more engineering students, Willetts bemoaned a university application system which saw good candidates unable to switch courses because they had not taken a physics A-level.

The Times article begins:

Bright students, particularly girls, are being encouraged to become engineers rather than doctors because of a “gross excess” of applicants for medical degrees.
Medical schools across the country received more than 11 applications for every place last year compared with fewer than nine applications in 2008, new figures have revealed. David Willetts, the universities minister, said the level of competition to pursue a career in medicine was “one of the most dysfunctional features” of the education system.

It is the first time I have seen the issue raised in the mainstream press of how sensible medicine is as a future career, specifically in relation to the number of jobs that there may be. I am not convinced that the need for doctors, is the same as the needs of the NHS. Nor am I clear whether the article is suggesting that engineering and medicine are ‘close’ to one another in terms of professional activity. People fail to understand that the need for scientific underpinning in various professions, is far less important than the ‘professional activities’ and learned habits needed. How often do we need our quadratic equations, or Newton’s law of motion. Arithmetic and writing, yes. The rest is up for grabs.

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