“Adapted from BMJ 30 July 2022
The idea of GP apprentices (in the UK) has been discussed for a few years now, but at last the scheme is starting up in September 2023.
The new scheme hopes to solve a lot of problems with one fell swoop.
There is a great shortage of doctors in the UK and particularly in General Practice, the foundation of the NHS system. At the same time, the expense of becoming a doctor, with student debt on qualification reaching £100,000, is making it a difficult choice for students who don’t have wealthy parents.
Universities have limited places for medical students. Although a few new medical schools have opened their doors such as Buckingham University, which is entirely privately funded, this has been insufficient to maintain GP numbers which continue to fall.
For several years conversion courses for graduates from other disciplines have been running at for instance Dundee University. This results in qualified doctors after a four- year course.
Courses for physician assistants have also been taking in graduates from careers allied to medicine in for instance Aberdeen University. Yet, there are simply not enough physicians and physician assistants to fill gaps in provision, as many of our UK readers will have noticed, whether they are seeking a GP or a hospital appointment.
What is different about GP apprenticeships is that the student will earn a wage from their very first day. I don’t know what that wage will be yet. Hopefully enough to make the experience worthwhile and at least prevent them ending up in debt.
The aim is to make medicine more accessible to students from state schools and poorer backgrounds. They want to see students from diverse backgrounds rather than just the white upper middle- class students from private schools who currently predominate.
Apprentices will complete both academic and practical education and come out with a medical degree and licence to practice from the General Medical Council.”