Background and study aims: This paper reports on a 1-year, full-time widening access to medicine course that prepares mature adults for entry to selected UK medical schools. The course was developed in 1992-93 in co-operation with the University of Leicester Medical School and is restricted to adults over 21 years of age. The main subjects of the curriculum are biology, chemistry and physics. These are supported by mathematics, statistics and medical geography.
Methods: Three successive year groups were used as trial groups and nine medical schools agreed to participate in the trial. The successful trial students were monitored as they progressed through medical school. A total of 19% of successful trial students graduated from medical school with honours degrees. Evaluation of the trial years has led to changes in both the curriculum and assessment methods.
Findings: The longitudinal study of the course indicates that progression to medical school has increased from an average of 64% during the trial years to an average of 85% over the last 3 years. Graduate entry to the course has increased from an initial 10% of the intake to 50% over the same period. The role of the programme as a vehicle for widening access to medical school was monitored in the 4-year period 1997-2000. In these years, 41% of the student intake progressing to medical school came from socioeconomic groups IV and V, whilst 36% came from socioeconomic groups I and II. The 2001/2002 cohort numbers 45.