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Should we care that 50% of state schools didn't produce any medicine applicants in 3 years?

(236 Posts)
legallady Thu 11-Dec-14 09:58:49

Well if no one from those schools wanted to study medicine then maybe not but if they are not achieving the grades to be able to apply or are not being given the correct advice then maybe we should.

Certainly it seems wrong that half of applicants in that time frame came from independent and grammar schools. It suggests that our qualified doctors a few years down the line will come from a very narrow demographic - similar to our lawyers and politicians - and that can't be good for our society.

What (if anything) is going wrong?

Clavinova Thu 11-Dec-14 10:21:16

Not an answer to your question but a note that the recently discussed report, 'state school pupils do better at university than privately educated pupils with the same A levels grades' excludes all medical, dentistry and veterinary graduates (plus any others on courses lasting longer than 4 years) from the study, thereby excluding a sizeable percentage of very bright, privately educated pupils.

peteneras Thu 11-Dec-14 10:31:19

A bit misleading, your heading. . .

Aren't grammar schools state schools too?

legallady Thu 11-Dec-14 10:49:53

Didn't mean to be misleading Preteneras - yes of course grammar schools are state schools and hopefully the body of my thread clarifies what I'm trying to say grin. I thinks it's a question worth thinking about though.

MillyMollyMama Thu 11-Dec-14 11:36:04

If 30 % of secondary state schools are not good enough, according to Sir Michael Wilshaw, it is highly likely the people most likely to be Doctors avoid these schools. Some of them will of have 6th forms either. It also suggests, that intelligence and aspiration to the medical profession is not spread around all state schools and,in disadvantaged areas, this should come as no surprise.

My DN appears to be very good at Maths and Sciences. It has been suggested to her that she becomes as Nurse. Her results,so far, are definitely good enough for her to consider becoming a Doctor but she has had no encouragement whatsoever- apart from me of course! This is the problem - low aspirations and people thinking that a lower qualifications good enough and also not understanding that medicine requires relevant work experience and considerable effort. My DN does not necessarily get the required impetus from her parents and therefore if the school is not bothered, who else can raise her aspirations? There are far better role models and aspirations in the best schools. If you have the misfortune to only have the local mediocre school available and your parents cannot be bothered, believe me,it is hard to escape from low aspiration.

peteneras Thu 11-Dec-14 11:38:09

Alright legallady, I know what you’re trying to say but when I first saw your heading, I thought you meant all state schools including grammars too.

Coming back to the gist of your post, if you think about it. . . if 50% of state schools didn’t produce any medicine applicants in 3 years, then the other 50% would have done so. Considering 93% of all schools are state schools out of which half of them did produce medicine applicants, then there are indeed lots of doctors out there who are from state schools. So no fear that our future qualified doctors will come from a very narrow demography.

But what does really matter is that we need absolutely first class doctors - whether they come from the private or state sector is quite immaterial so long as they can heal your ailments and/or pull you back to life from the edge and make you healthy again. grin

Clavinova Thu 11-Dec-14 11:42:47

Poor chemistry A level teaching has been suggested by my doctor friend - not taught well in many schools apparently.

GoodKingQuintless Thu 11-Dec-14 11:44:45

Does a doctors demographic really matter to how he heals his patients?

GoodKingQuintless Thu 11-Dec-14 11:48:53

Not all academic high achievers wants to study medicine. My niece got the grades and could easily chosen medicine, her A levels were maths, physics, chemistry and biology, she has chosen a Bachelor in biology and environmental studies. Her assignments on migrant sea creatures sound fascinating! This planet needs really bright marine biologists too!

Stillwishihadabs Thu 11-Dec-14 11:51:11

GoodKing you won't get the best if the applicants are drawn from a narrow demographic. (Btw most newly qualified Drs are female, was 50% 10 years ago)

PastSellByDate Thu 11-Dec-14 12:06:20

Hi legallady:

My understanding is that the 'professions' are largely becoming 'hereditary' - e.g. if Daddy was a doctor you're likely to be one. If Mommy was an academic you're likely to be one.

The UK is apparently does not do well in terms of social mobility: www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts

So no - I'm not surprised by the data - but I think that this increasing divide between the 'haves' and 'have nots' is not healthy or a good thing long term.

The reality is we are now entering an era where children are less likely to have the same level of income/ standard of living/ pension that their parents did/ do: www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/12/middle-class-young-people-future-worse-parents

I also wonder if part of the reason A-Level students aren't opting for a career in medicine (I'll include dentistry in that) - is that it obviously is a jolly hard degree involving a lot of work/ long hours.

MillyMollyMama Thu 11-Dec-14 12:17:02

A level students opt for Medicine in droves!!! It is one of the hardest courses to get onto but is hardly short of applicants! The problem is that they do not come from a sufficiently wide variety of schools. Of course not all high achieving students want to be Doctors, but if schools think a high achieving child who has show an interest in the medical profession should aspire to be a nurse and not a doctor, is there any wonder the statistics show a bias towards the better schools?

smokepole Thu 11-Dec-14 12:26:00

Its not surprising that "everybody" except a few ideologists on here, want a selective education for their children (if available and able enough) when looking at these figures.

The figures show that unless your child is educated in a Private, Grammar or one of the very selective "Comprehensives" like Parmiters , they are likely not to get on to a selective course or in to a top ranked University. The Medicine statistics might be the headline. However, you can be sure the numbers going on to highly academic courses and top professions, will be similar tiny from 50% of secondary schools.

rhetorician Thu 11-Dec-14 12:34:44

lots of issues here, but the main one is that medicine is highly competitive and confers significant life-long earning potential. You don't need to be middle-class to do it - but being middle-class shouldn't preclude you from doing it. Unless you want to go into high level research (and many will come to medical research from other academic routes) you probably don't need stellar academic credentials - very good ones, for sure, but most of the successful applicants probably have better academic qualifications than they need. However, what they do need is excellent communication and people skills, which the last time I checked were not the exclusive preserve of any one social grouping.

As to PastSellBySate - the research bears you out, but I would take exception to "If Mommy was an academic you're likely to be one" - academia for recent and new entrants has been so downgraded that it barely qualifies as a profession any more in my view, and I certainly wouldn't be rushing to persuade my child to spend 6-7 years in higher ed, followed by about a decade of short-term contracts/hourly pay, only to take up a post without security which pays less than many administrative jobs (which may at least have the benefit of not expecting a 24-7 commitment). Even amongst my much more privileged peers in academia, I know of no-one with a child who has followed in their footsteps. Sorry. As you were.

apotatoprintinapeartree Thu 11-Dec-14 12:57:47

I don't know anybody who has gone on to do medicine from state schools. Even the brightest lad whose parents were really committed and Dad was the assistant head, did pharmacy instead.

The majority will come from the private sector because no matter how much we try and kid ourselves, private is usually better because parents pay for the privilege.

The sate sector, the same as any other service provided by the state/public sector is basic.

mumsneedwine Thu 11-Dec-14 14:21:12

Well my eldest is at medical school from a Comp - as are 67% of the class (Prof told them proudly). And she had 4 offers so can't be the only University accepting these poor unfortunates who populate Comprehensives.

LooseAtTheSeams Thu 11-Dec-14 14:44:49

I'd be really careful about extrapolating anything from a 50% figure. You need to know a lot more about what puts students with the right A level subjects off applying for medical degrees. What do they opt for instead and why? You'd need to know if this figure includes all state schools or all state schools that actually have sixth forms - many don't so it's irrelevant to include them.

Does it say more about changes to the NHS than about state schools? Most state schools with sixth forms would love to get kids into medical school, I'm sure! Our local comp got its sixth form back just a few years ago and is really encouraging suitable students to apply. But the students really, really have to want to do it and their parents may need fears about the training and long hours allayed. There are a lot of factors that could be behind the percentage and I suspect more detailed research needed to make sense of it.

slippermaiden Thu 11-Dec-14 14:50:01

Millymollymama I'm a nurse and so work with a lot of doctors. I wouldn't wish their job on anyone. The buck stops with them, long working hours, little social life, moving around all the time, stress. In the hospital we are all members of the multidisciplinary team and all equally important. Try dentistry, big money, less stress!

broccoliear Thu 11-Dec-14 14:58:42

I think it's problematic if doctors are not broadly representative of the communities they serve. Doctors are not (just) technicians: a big part of healing is communication and empathy. So it helps if you have something in common with your patients. Of course it's not absolutely necessary: look at all the foreign doctors we have in the UK doing a great job. But overall, we want the profession to represent the population, not a white, monied subset of it.

The problem is, as pp have said, aspiration and opportunity. If no one I know is a doctor, what on earth is going to make me think I can be one myself?

purpleroses Thu 11-Dec-14 15:00:48

Quite a lot of state schools have only a small sixth form, do don't send that many kids to do anything each year. So I don't by think it's that odd a statistic. Would be more useful to know what proportion of medical students are from comprehensives.

What it does suggest though it's that small or not so brilliant comprehensive badly need a proper careers service provided by real experts, not the schools themselves who may not have a clue how to advise someone interested in medicine. I think the cuts to careers services are one of the worst things you can do for social mobility.

mumsneedwine Thu 11-Dec-14 15:02:14

But medical schools are full of Comp kids ?!?! I know nothing about official figures - just know the students who are currently studying with mine. And 2 of her friends at different medical schools - also went to Comp and have lots of friends who did too.

BrendaBlackhead Thu 11-Dec-14 15:08:00

loads of kids go to medical school from ds's comprehensive school. So many I'm seriously concerned about encountering one I know in a few years' time when I have some embarrassing complaint!

atoughyear Thu 11-Dec-14 15:08:23

I wish people wouldn't stick their heads in the sand. There will of course be lots of medics from comps but I bet the majority are London/south east, leafy suburb types.
What about these kids?
I don't believe for one minute there isn't one who didn't have the potential to become a doctor yet they weren't even doing the correct A level choices to even be considered.

mumsneedwine Thu 11-Dec-14 15:23:53

Well we do live in the South (so are obviously rich ?!?). My DD is actually my niece and we are working class and proud of it. Yes some kids don't get the support to do medicine but just coz you're not from a weathly middle class home does not mean you won't succeed.

atoughyear Thu 11-Dec-14 15:31:59

If you're not from a middle-class home I believe the chances of success are greatly diminished.

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