DOCTORS will be able to “earn as they learn” under radical plans to create medical apprenticeships.
It would controversially see medics qualifying without going to university for the first time in NHS history.
Health Education England confirmed early talks have already taken place to allow doctors to fully train on the job. Health bosses hope offering an alternative to costly university degrees will help boost workforce diversity.
Medical apprenticeships are expected to appeal to Brits from poorer backgrounds and those looking to change careers – but put off by the high cost.
Professor Liz Hughes, Deputy Medical Director at HEE, said: “We are working with employers…and a number of other stakeholders on developing a medical apprenticeship. The expectation is that such an apprenticeship could make the profession more accessible, more diverse and more representative of local communities while retaining the same high standards of training.”
Under the plans, apprentices would still have to follow the same curriculum as those doing traditional medical degrees.
Professor Wendy Reid, HEE’s medical director, told the Health Service Journal: “The difference between an apprenticeship and a degree will be that people will be working alongside learning.
“So very similar to traditional apprenticeships, where if you are older or you have commitments where you can’t suddenly go off and spend five or six years as a graduate, then this is a way of learning differently.
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“At the moment this will suit people who have been in work for some time, either in a health service related role or indeed in other work.”
Most medical schools in England and Wales charge tuition fees of £9,250 annually for a five year course – a total of £46,250. Apprenticeships have already been introduced for nursing, allowing recruits to earn on the ward, while undergoing a four year training course.
A British Medical Association spokesperson said: “Proposals for a medical doctor apprenticeship that results in doctors educated and trained to the same high standards as current studentships are interesting and worthy of consideration.”
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