People wanting to train as a doctor could achieve their degree by an apprenticeship route from September 2023, which aims to widen access and participation in undergraduate medical education and deliver better care to patients through a diverse workforce that is more representative of local communities.
The Medical Doctor Degree Apprenticeship involves the same training, at the same high standard as traditional educational routes. Apprentices will complete all elements of medical education, academic and practical, including a medical degree, the Medical Licensing Assessment and meet all requirements set out by the General Medical Council and will be able to earn a wage while they study.
The apprenticeship has been introduced to make the profession more accessible, more diverse, and more representative of local communities so patients are treated by a medical workforce that reflects the diversity of local communities. The aim is to recruit students from varying backgrounds, who may have struggled to pursue a traditional medical degree education, so that future generations of students, and health professionals, more closely mirror the population that they serve. Apprenticeships may also appeal to people who might have gained experience in clinical roles and be ready to start training as a doctor at a later stage in their career.
The Medical Doctor Degree Apprenticeship was created by a trailblazer group of employer organisations over a two-year period. Health Education England supported development of the apprenticeship to provide employers with a new way to grow and diversify their medical workforce supply through a programme which will reach and deliver better care to local communities.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) and Department of Education have signed off the apprenticeship and it is now available for employers to train their future medical workforce. Approval opens the door for providers across the country to consider how they will go about delivering the apprenticeship in practice which could be full or part time, though all apprentices will reach the same high standard that is expected of all doctors.
Professor Liz Hughes, Medical Director of undergraduate education at HEE, said: “The Medical Doctor Degree Apprenticeship will make a career in medicine accessible for talented people from every background while maintaining the exact same high standards of training set out by the General Medical Council.
"HEE has worked alongside many partners to support the development of this new training pathway for future apprentices which has the potential to make the profession more diverse. HEE will continue to work with partners to support the implementation of this apprenticeship. It has only been possible to break down the barriers of entry to this profession with the support of these partners, including employers, regulators, medical schools, HEE's Patient advisory forum members and medical unions Their continued engagement will be crucial in supporting a new generation of apprentice medical doctors to being training in the NHS. "
Jennifer Coupland, IfATE chief executive, said: “For many seeing that an apprentice can become a medical doctor will be a big surprise but employers are driving change in the way we think about skills in this country – not everyone’s journey to career success has to be the same.
“We are opening up high status professions to give talented people of all ages the opportunity to use an apprenticeship to get the same high quality training as via the traditional university route.”
Minister for Health Maria Caulfield said: “It is vital that no talented student is hindered from pursuing medicine and this new apprenticeship will make a huge difference in improving access to the profession by enabling students to earn while they learn.
“Alongside this we are expanding the pipeline of doctors and have already increased the number of funded medical school places by 25% and opened five new medical schools across England.
“This means patients will be seen quicker by a growing workforce that is more diverse and representative of local communities, as staff continue to work hard to beat the Covid backlogs.”
Minister for Skills, Further and Higher Education Andrea Jenkyns said: “The chance to earn while you learn on a medical degree without any compromise on the world-class training standards that underpin Britain’s healthcare system is truly revolutionary.
“It will open up the medical profession to more people, giving the NHS more of the essential skills we need.”