Background: Educating doctors is expensive and poor performance by future graduates can literally cost lives. Whilst the practice of medicine is highly evidence based, medical education is much less so. Research on medical school selection, undergraduate progression, Fitness to Practise (FtP) and postgraduate careers has been hampered across the globe by the challenges of uniting the data required. This paper describes the creation, structure and access arrangements for the first UK-wide attempt to do so.
Overview: A collaborative approach has created a research database commencing with all entrants to UK medical schools in 2007 and 2008 (UKMED Phase 1). Here the content is outlined, governance arrangements considered, system access explained, and the potential implications of this new resource discussed. The data currently include achievements prior to medical school entry, admissions tests, graduation point information and also all subsequent data collected by the General Medical Council, including FtP, career progression, annual National Training Survey (NTS) responses, career choice and postgraduate exam performance data. UKMED has grown since the pilot phase with additional datasets; all subsequent years of students/trainees and stronger governance processes. The inclusion of future cohorts and additional information such as admissions scores or bespoke surveys or assessments is now being piloted. Thus, for instance, new scrutiny can be applied to selection techniques and the effectiveness of educational interventions. Data are available free of charge for approved studies from suitable research groups worldwide.
Conclusion: It is anticipated that UKMED will continue on a rolling basis. This has the potential to radically change the volume and types of research that can be envisaged and, therefore, to improve standards, facilitate workforce planning and support the regulation of medical education and training. This paper aspires to encourage proposals to utilise this exciting resource.
Keywords: Education; Fitness to Practise; Graduate; Medical; Medical schools; Personnel; Selection; Undergraduate.