In your article (Psychiatry and nursing numbers remain low, Mental health supplement, 15 May), it is suggested that medical schools may be making the recruitment problems to psychiatry worse by selecting the wrong kind of students. The article states that only three UK medical schools accept psychology A-level for entry to medicine. I must correct this. Every UK medical school will accept psychology A-level as one of the three A-levels usually required. The only restrictions applied are that one of the required A-levels must be chemistry and, for some, that a second A-level must be biology, maths or physics.
Great care is taken to choose medical students who have not only the academic ability but also essential personal qualities, such as compassion and integrity, that fit with the values of the NHS. Together with the regulator, medical schools have set up the UK Medical Education Database (UKMED) as a platform for systematic research into medical education and building the evidence base for admissions policies. UKMED’s published research already demonstrates some of the factors involved in specialty destination, and suggests that having a psychology A-level is not a predictor of later entry to psychiatry.
Mental health is a priority area for the NHS workforce and for public benefit. Among many university outreach initiatives undertaken by medical schools, Psychiatry Calling and I’m a Medic specifically address mental health, with considerable success in raising interest and awareness among secondary school students.
Dr Paul Garrud
Chair, Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance
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