Graduate Entry Medical School. I am in favour of them.

Graduates in medical school

Sir, – Dr Niall Conroy calls for the re-distribution of medical school places from graduate entry programmes to direct entry, in order to maintain the “academic calibre” of medical students (August 25th).
In doing so he suggests that the academic calibre of graduate entrants is in some way inferior to that of traditional entrants. I find his opinion insulting, to say the least.

Graduate entrants to medical school come to the course with a 2.1 degree (at least), and have achieved high marks in the Graduate Medical Schools Admissions Test (Gamsat) entrance exam, which covers chemistry, biology, physics and maths. So they are academically better qualified to study medicine than the traditional Leaving Cert student who, in order to achieve 600 points, will have avoided subjects like honours chemistry and physics, and concentrated on “soft” subjects, in which they are more likely to get an A1.

But their academic qualifications are not all that graduate entrants bring to the table. Their life experience and genuine desire to study medicine makes for an exciting, challenging academic environment. Most will have returned to study medicine at great financial cost to themselves and to their family. Many have children and are balancing their studies with a full home life. As a result, they are nothing if not motivated.

I come to medicine with a first-class science degree, a PhD in cancer biology and a couple of postdocs behind me. Does Dr Conroy consider me less qualified to study medicine than a 17-year-old with an A1 in geography? – Yours, etc,

EILIS FORAN, PhD,

Third year Graduate Medical Student (UL),

Oranmore, Co Galway.

Letter in Irish Times on Saturday August 27th 2011