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Published: 23 August 2021

This year marks 21 years of the Graduate Entry Medicine programme at St George’s, University of London.

To celebrate this milestone, we will be sharing reflections from current and former staff, students and alumni of the course throughout the year, culminating in an on-site celebration at St George’s in Spring 2022 (date to be confirmed).

Principal, Professor Jenny Higham, says:

“I had heard of the enormously successful Graduate Entry Medicine programme long before I arrived at St George’s and continue to be proud of all it achieves.

"There is an ever-growing community of impressive alumni, staff and students.

"The diversity of the people within our community at St George’s is one of our strengths, and this programme’s ability to attract individuals with a wide range of experiences, perspectives and disciplinary backgrounds is so enriching."

"I am proud that St George’s was a trailblazer for this inclusive approach to Medicine and for our role in changing the landscape of healthcare. It will be exciting to see what the next 21 years will bring.”

We will be speaking to the original members of the programme team – beginning with our former Principal, Professor Sir Robert Boyd – in a series of posts about how the course has developed over time, and how it felt to see this ground-breaking programme come to fruition.

About Graduate Entry Medicine

Open to graduates from a wide range of science and non-science backgrounds, the Graduate Entry Programme at St George’s offers a fast-track route which condenses the first stage of a conventional medical degree, allowing students to achieve the qualification in four, rather than five, years.

21 years on from the launch of the programme, there are now several universities across the country offering their own version of the Graduate Entry Medicine programme. However, when the course launched at St George’s in 2000, it was the first of its kind in the UK.

Although one Graduate Entry Medicine course existed at the University of Leicester when our own programme was founded, one key difference at St George’s was that the programme accepted graduates not just from scientific backgrounds, but from all disciplines.

Hear from Professor Sir Robert Boyd

Professor Sir Robert Boyd explains the inspiration behind setting up the St George’s Graduate Entry Medicine Programme:

“Getting into Medicine was very competitive at the time. This, combined with students having to decide early on in life how they wanted their future to look, meant that many people were finding themselves disappointed that they couldn’t get a place on a Medicine course despite having chosen, aged 15, to study A levels perceived as essential to get into Medical School. Such early choice seemed a mistake for many.

“I was working as Dean of Medicine at the University of Manchester before I joined St George’s. The University of Manchester’s Dean at the time, Professor Stephen Tomlinson, had already spoken to me about whether Medicine could be studied in less than five years. This made me think about the possibility of studying a fast-track Medicine course. I felt that there were lessons to be learned from the US model, which allowed students with undergraduate degrees from a range of disciplines to go on to study Medicine as a second degree.

“The government was looking for ways to encourage people to study Medicine and I thought it was important to encourage people who could bring different experiences and expertise to the profession. People who come from different disciplines and professions are often those who have the potential to bring the most to Medicine.”

“When I was invited to be the Principal of St George’s, 11 other London Medical Schools had just merged and St George’s was the only remaining free-standing Medical School in the UK."

"When I joined St George’s, I found myself in a small community of very talented, enthusiastic educators and thought it would be the perfect place to try something that had not been done before.”

Reflecting on his experience of seeing the programme get off the ground, Sir Robert says: “A great deal of work went into making sure the Graduate Entry Medicine Programme was approved, as it was such an innovative concept at the time. But it was very satisfying to see that not soon after its launch, the course was imitated by other institutions who were keen to try this new approach."

"Seeing others taking inspiration from the St George’s programme is a wonderful example of how much this small, unique and innovative institution is capable of.”

Find out more

Over the coming months, we will be sharing more stories and posts about the founding of Graduate Entry Medicine and how it has developed over time on our news pages, social media pages and in our newsletters – including the second event in our Alumni Perspectives series, In Conversation with Professor Mike Grocott and Captain Bryony Hastings.

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