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Effect of medical school attended on the chances of successfully embarking on a clinical-academic career in the UK
  1. Callum John Donaldson1,
  2. Miguel Sequeira Campos2,
  3. Joanne Ridgley1,
  4. Alexander Light1
  1. 1 Department of Surgery, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2 Department of Surgery, St George's University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Callum John Donaldson, Department of Surgery, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK; callumdonaldson{at}


Purpose of the study This study aimed to investigate whether, in the UK, medical school attended influences the propensity to apply to and be successful in obtaining an offer from the Academic Foundation Programme (AFP), thus taking the first step to embarking on a clinical-academic career.

Study design A retrospective observational study was performed. Using the UK Foundation Programme’s yearly statistical report data, mean application rates to, and mean offer rates from the AFP were calculated by medical school, between the years 2017–2019. Mean application and mean offer rates were subsequently correlated with metrics of medical school academic performance and research focus.

Results Mean application rates to the AFP were higher in medical schools that had a mandatory intercalated degree as part of the undergraduate medical curriculum (mean=33.99%, SD=13.93 vs mean=19.44%, SD=6.88, p<0.001), lower numerical rank in the Times Higher Education 2019 World Rankings (correlation with higher numerical rank, r=−0.50, p=0.004), and lower numerical rank in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 UK rankings (correlation with higher numerical rank, r=−0.37, p=0.004). Mean offer rates from the AFP were not correlated with any metric of medical school academic performance or research focus.

Conclusions Students attending a medical school with greater academic performance and research focus are more likely to apply and subsequently embark on a clinical-academic career. However, students wishing to embark a clinical-academic career from any medical school have an equal chance of success.

  • medical education & training

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  • Contributors The initial idea and methodology for the study was conceived by CJD. This was further refined by MSC, JR and AL. Data were compiled by CJD. Data analysis was completed by CJD and AL. The manuscript was drafted and revised by all authors. All authors approved of the final version of the manuscript and agree to be accountable for the accuracy and integrity of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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