Train doctors quicker to tackle the coronavirus crisis | Letter

Dr Leone Ridsdale, who trained in four years, suggests shortening medical courses as a rapid remedy for low doctor numbers in the UK

There are likely to be dark times ahead. Low doctor numbers may be a challenge, as well as a lack of hospital beds. But we could increase doctor numbers for the coming year.

In 1970 I wanted to train as a doctor. I had no science qualifications from school – my leaving certificates were in history and economics, and I had a BA in economics. I found that in North America they train doctors in four years. One medical school, McMaster, accepted people with no science qualifications, and trained them in three years. I went there. When I graduated, I felt “impostor syndrome”. But, with experience and supervision, this wore off.

After postgraduate hospital jobs, I returned to the UK and trained as a GP. People who had trained in the UK seemed a bit shocked that I went from no science to becoming a doctor in three years. But my GP trainer was not. He trained as a doctor in three years during the war. Needs must.

As the pandemic took hold in the UK earlier this year, students who had done nearly five years’ basic medical training were registered early. With the second wave beginning, how about those with four years’ training or even three?
Dr Leone Ridsdale
London

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