The range of available apprenticeships is consistently increasing and diversifying.
While many apprenticeships in the healthcare field already exist, you may be surprised to learn that, soon, you will have the opportunity to train as a doctor via an apprenticeship.
Previously, the only route to becoming a doctor was studying for a medical degree at a university before completing postgraduate training, medical examinations, and a residency.
This system naturally excluded many who could not dedicate the time and money required to complete such a long period of study.
But times have changed.
Given the scale of the NHS crisis and the need to replenish staffing levels, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education and the Department of Education has approved the medical doctor degree apprenticeship scheme.
First proposed in February 2021, the scheme has been approved as of July 2022, for an initial 200 students over two years.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a medical doctor apprenticeship?
A medical doctor apprenticeship is a level seven integrated degree apprenticeship. Regulated by the General Medical Council, it is designed to offer an alternative route for people to study to become doctors.
As with any apprenticeship, the successful candidates will learn ‘on the job’, swapping years of initial classroom learning, for real-world experience, backed up by learned theory and regular assessments. They will work alongside fully-qualified doctors in hospital wards, learning first-hand how to be a doctor from the start of the course. Lecturers, seminars and small-group teaching are still expected to feature in the classroom portion of the apprenticeship.
Instead of having to take out often prohibitively expensive student loans to cover six or seven years at university, apprentices will also be earning a living wage.
What will the apprentices do?
Apprentices’ responsibilities will increase as their training progresses. To begin, they will be given jobs such as helping with meal times and performing small medical tasks such as blood tests and patient observations.
How long does it last?
The medical doctor apprenticeship will take around five years (60 months) to complete, similar to an undergraduate medical degree at a university. However, if you already have a healthcare degree or equivalent, you may gain points to contribute to your qualification. In that case, you could complete the apprenticeship in less time. This program offers nurses, paramedics, and physiotherapists a more realistic route to becoming a doctor.
What qualifications do you gain?
Upon completing the apprenticeship, you will hold the same medical degree as someone who trained at university.
How much will I earn?
The exact wages for medical apprentices have not been confirmed. However, you will be entitled to at least the national minimum wage for your age group.
The wage is expected to be higher than the minimum in recognition of the nature of the profession.
As with other apprenticeships, your employer may offer a higher wage to attract a higher calibre of candidates.
Location may also determine a higher rate, such as for medical apprentices living in London.
What are the entry requirements?
Candidates will need three As at A Level or equivalent, the same as an undergraduate medical degree. As mentioned, other relevant academic achievements will contribute to UCAS points. This means a paramedic or nurse with lower A levels would likely still be accepted onto the course. There may be some variation among medical schools and employers regarding their specific requirements.
The standard apprenticeship requirements also apply:
- You must be 16 or older
- Not currently in full-time education
- A UK resident
When will applicants be accepted?
Although the medical doctor degree apprenticeship has been approved for delivery, it is not expected to begin until September 2024. While this may seem like a long time to wait, delivery of a new apprenticeship scheme takes time.
Where can I find a doctor’s degree apprenticeship near me?
From Autumn 2023, you can apply via the NHS Jobs website. Other job sites and NHS employers’ job boards will also advertise available positions. As part of the scheme, it is expected that existing NHS employees such as nurses and paramedics deemed to be suitable candidates may be offered places.
Medical doctor apprenticeships won’t follow the same rigid October UCAS application deadline. Firstly, you don’t apply through UCAS. Secondly, individual NHS trusts may have different enrol dates.
At the time of writing, the following NHS trusts have signed up.
- Barts Health NHS Trust
- Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Black Country and West Birmingham Sustainability and Transformation Partnership
- Croydon University Hospital
- East Lancashire NHS Trust
- East London NHS Foundation Trust
- Epsom & St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust
- Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
- Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
- Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust
- Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
- Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust
- The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust
- Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
Depending on the success of the scheme, it is likely that more trusts will join the program.
What it means for the future
While this is essentially a trial run, it potentially opens up medical doctor training to a much wider and more diverse selection of candidates.
If this is something you might be interested in, keep an eye on your local NHS trust’s job boards.
If you would like to discuss your options or have a question we haven’t answered, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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