Medical schools come together to support inclusion and diversity in undergraduate training
The Medical Schools Council (MSC) has published its new framework for supporting medical schools to make their environments and processes more inclusive. This report is the first released under the auspices of the recently established MSC Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Alliance.
Despite the substantial outreach work which has been undertaken to address the perception of medicine as an elite profession, including widening access into medical school, there is extensive evidence to demonstrate the continued challenges faced disproportionately by students from marginalised communities. These concerns are not limited to students, with university staff also negatively impacted by poor inclusivity and there remains a clear need within higher education to address these issues. The MSC framework, titled Active Inclusion: Challenging exclusions in medical education, hopes to provide an overview of the challenges that lead to exclusion faced by medical students and staff and suggests actions that can assist medical schools to identify and decisively address these exclusions.
While not an exhaustive list, the report suggests a number of interventions that medical schools should consider as they work to improve inclusion in their policies and environments. It should be noted that many of the actions are already being implemented at medical schools. The key areas of practice in the framework focus on:
- Making medical schools accountable for challenging exclusions
- Challenging exclusion in recruitment & selection, and the medical school environment
- Challenging exclusions in the curriculum
- Challenging exclusions in clinical placements
- Challenging exclusions as an employer
It is acknowledged in the title of the framework, Active inclusion, that fostering inclusion is not a passive process. The document emphasises that in order to challenge exclusions successfully medical schools and their universities must continuously review and improve their systems and ways of working. This sentiment is championed by the MSC EDI Alliance which formed in 2021 to support medical schools to become fair, diverse and inclusive environments in which to study and work.
Margot Turner, a key contributor to the report and Co-Chair of the EDI Alliance, said
“This framework was created in collaboration with medical school staff and students and we hope that it encourages medical schools to work with their colleagues and students to identify stereotypes and underrepresentation in the curriculum and decisively act to set up effective processes to challenge any prejudicial practices.
“Collecting data and monitoring is of course essential but we must not wait to implement changes that have already been clearly identified. We hope this document will help facilitate urgent conversations and training in order to make changes and strive for a more equitable learning environment”
Professor Malcolm Reed, Co-Chair of the Medical Schools Council said
“This document and initiative aims to share best practice between medical schools so they can accelerate the work they are undertaking to ensure that our students and future doctors are much more representative of the society from which they are drawn and will go on to serve. It is essential that every aspect of our work from recruitment, through education and research clearly demonstrates active measures to combat exclusions and promote equity of opportunity. Medical schools and their universities have already begun undertaking vital work to help reduce the inequalities described in this important report but by working collectively, through the MSC EDI Alliance, we can ensure that meaningful local learning is shared and amplified at a national level.
“This framework is the first of its kind and we hope that it, and its future accompaniments, will support our goal to challenge and ultimately remove exclusions completely from medical training.”
The framework is supported by the General Medical Council (GMC), which has recently set targets to eliminate discrimination, disadvantage and unfairness in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education and training by 2031. Professor Colin Melville, Director of Education and Standards at the GMC, said
“The past eighteen months have served as a reminder of the systemic and social issues that exist within medical education and the wider health system. More can and should be done to tackle these issues so that students at the outset of their medical careers experience the supportive, inclusive, and fair environments they deserve.
“The MSC’s new guidance is an important starting point in assisting schools to actively challenge discrimination. The MSC’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Alliance has already done fantastic work in bringing together the medical school community to tackle existing inequalities, share best practice and take this work forward.”
The MSC EDI Alliance is undertaking work to develop further guidance which will build on the areas discussed in Active Inclusion: Challenging exclusions in medical education. This work will include the identification of best practice, examples of innovation and the sharing of resources between medical schools.
Read the framework: Active Inclusion: Challenging exclusions in medical education
Notes to editors:
- The Medical Schools Council is the representative body for UK medical schools. The council is composed of the heads of UK medical schools and meets in order to shape the future of medical education in the UK. For more information on the Medical Schools Council, visit medschools.ac.uk.
- The MSC EDI Alliance is responsible for the development of the Medical Schools Council’s work in equality, diversity and inclusion. Formed in 2021, its chief role is to provide practical guidance to support medical schools to become fair, diverse and inclusive environments in which to study and work.
- For more information on this press release, please contact Fahmida Yasmin, Senior Communications Officer, on 02074195430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org