A radical theory on how to encourage women to take their smear test has been published in the British Medical Journal. It suggests that women who miss a GP appointment for a smear test would be more likely to submit the test, if it were provided as a self- sample kit to do at home.

The study was conducted in order to test the accuracy of HPV test from a home sample, and help improve cervical cancer detection for women who are not attending regular screenings. The first review concluded that results from HPV tests taken at home varied depending on the technology used for testing. Some results on home tests were more likely to be inaccurate, leading to a false diagnosis. The second review discovered that women who were offered to take their own HPV as a home test were twice as likely to respond than they would to a reminder letter. They did also find that women were not as likely to request a HPV home test from their GP.

But would women benefit from taking their own smear tests at home or will it just be a waste of NHS resources?


It’s previously been reported that one in three women will not attend a cervical cancer screening due to embarrassment. Home screening tests would reduce the anxiety associated with the testing and encourage more women to have their health checked regularly. This is supported by the research; 80% of women would rather self- sample at home. Testing from home will also be beneficial for women who are not as mobile or who cannot easily get to their local GP, as it is more accessible.  The study did also show that 80% of women in developing countries, such as Africa and South America, would take a home test if they were offered one. The more women who are getting tested, the more women there are getting help.


The accuracy of the testing is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to detecting abnormal cells in a cancer screening test. According to the study, the accuracy of the self- sample,  kits were significantly different compared to the samples taken from the GP. The self- sample kits were not as accurate, varying on the technology used to test the samples, and were showing a false positive result. There is no benefit to a HPV self- care kit unless the results are 100% accurate.

As part of the application process for a place at one of the UK’s many medical schools, you’ll be expected to show that you’re keeping up to date with the latest news from the medical industry during a face-to-face interview.

But subscribing to medical journals and digests can be pricey, so we’ve uncovered four of the best websites to help you gain access to the latest medical news and ensure ace that interview.

Medical News Today

With over 280,200 articles spanning hundreds of medical topics and a knowledge centre packed full of whitepapers and longer in-depth articles on specific conditions, Medical News Today has been running since 2003 and is one of the most popular sources of medical news for health professionals and those seeking to enter the industry.

There’s also a free monthly newsletter which tailors articles to your interest, making it a brilliant starting point for medial news.


Medscape UK

A great resource for the latest trending medical news collected from sources all over the globe, Medscape also has some pretty impressive tools and resources available for those who wish to register for a free account.

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to access other areas of the website including case studies, quizzes and resources such as a drug interaction checker that might come in handy once you’ve been accepted for a place at medical school.


Science Daily

Your one-stop site for scientific breakthroughs for the medical industry, Science Daily has a wealth of articles on the latest research news in technology and health so you can wow the applications officers at your entrance interview for medical school with your extensive knowledge of the latest in medical innovations.


NHS News

Showcasing the latest and most popular articles from the NHS, NHS News brings together articles, opinions, commentary and whitepapers on a plethora of medical topics.

With topics spanning the gauntlet from nutrition and pregnancy to medical conditions such as cancer and diabetes, the NHS News portal is updated virtually every day, so you’ll be able to access the very latest NHS news without having to scour the internet.


Don’t forget that you can also set up email alerts for many of these websites, so you’ll get the latest medical news delivered right to your inbox ready to help you prepare for that all-important interview for medical school.

Medical school demands are intense, both physically and mentally and this can be quite an adjustment for new students. There is a lot of pressure to get a lot of work done in a short period of time, and more often than not, this can lead to burnout. Not only will this affect your productivity but your overall physical health may also suffer. Before you let your work load get the better of you, take a look at these few tips to help you recognise and overcome study burnout.

Recognise the symptoms of burn out

The symptoms of burn out can often affect you long before you even realise that something is wrong. The sooner you recognise the symptoms of burn out, the sooner you can take the steps to get yourself back on track. Things to look out for include:

– Indifference to studying

– Feelings of inadequacy

– Fatigue and exhaustion

– Unwillingness to studying

– The inability to absorb more information

– An overall decline in academic performance

Find effective ways to manage your time

Re- evaluate which work is of the most importance and go from there. Rather than read an 800 page book in one sitting, take note of what your lecturers want you to know and focus on that specific area until you’ve caught up.

If you find yourself struggling with your work load, reach out to fellow students and lecturers, because their advice and support will be invaluable. Don’t leave everything to the last minute. Begin studying early as soon as you start a new topic and catch up with yourself when you have the time.

Developing your own routine and learning how to manage your time in a way that works for you will help you to feel less stressed too. Whether that’s by creating a study plan on an app, using to do lists or charting off time and subjects on a calendar, getting organised about how your time will be spent can lift some of the pressure.


Aim to pass, not exceed expectations

Of the biggest problems that medical students face is the pressure to consume as much knowledge as possible. The more pressure you put on yourself to study harder, the more likely you are to tire yourself out. You will not benefit from trying to learn everything all at once, so create a study plan based around your syllabus and work outwards from there.


Spend time on yourself

It’s untrue that you can’t go to medical school and have a life. Eating healthy, getting enough sleep and making sure you spend time with friends and family are a priority when you’re studying for a medical degree. Denying yourself time to relax will put your body and your mind under more stress, and will increase the feeling of burn out. Make sure you find the time to take care of yourself.

The grades you achieve at A-level will impact on which university you attend and which course you’re accepted to but the strength of your medical school application is also critical and will determine how (and where) you begin your medical career. The competitive nature of the field means it is essential that your application stands out, otherwise no matter how good your grades, you may find that you’re being passed over for your first choice of school and degree program. To maximise your chances of getting into your preferred medical school, keep these five tips in mind.


  1. Research your chosen school


Before applying for medical school, you’ll need to check the application requirements. Some courses will only accept certain A Level subjects and grades and will have very specific entry requirements. If you haven’t done your research and made you’re A-Level choices based on those conditions, you could find yourself ineligible for the medical school you’d imagined yourself attending.


Likewise, it pays to double check on your choice of school’s approach to teaching, included modules, types of exams and any specialisms it may offer, to make sure your first choice really is the best one for you.


  1. Strive to demonstrate applicable work experience


Hands on experience in your chosen field can help your application stand out above the rest. Work experience in a hospital is beneficial, but it isn’t possible to directly shadow a doctor. Instead, why not apply to other medical specialities within the hospital or a residential home?


You don’t even have to do your work experience in a hospital. What you do with the experience is more important than the experience itself. You need to use it as an opportunity to learn new skills and apply them in the workplace. Make sure you emphasis this in your personal statement and application as it is something that many course heads will be on the alert for.


  1. Personal Statement


You personal statement is your opportunity to going to grab the attention of the admissions department. They’re investing time and resources in you, so they want to make sure they have the right applicant. It’s your job to show them that you are hard-working and talented, passionate about your chosen field, clear on your desire and motivation to study medicine, and able to showcase that you’ve gained the necessary skills to support certain aspects of the training modules. Our medical personal statement coursewill help you develop an interesting and relevant personal statement to stand out from the crowd.


  1. Be well prepared for the admissions test


Whichever university you choose to attend, you may be required to sit either the UKCAT and/ or BMAT aptitude tests to determine whether or not you meet the intellectual requirements of the school. You’ll need to be prepared here so that you enter feeling confident and are in the right frame of mind to showcase your potential.


  1. Interview


A Medical School interview is very much like a job interview. They like what they see on your CV, now they want to meet you face- to- face to discuss your application in depth. They’ll have heard the run of the mill answers before, so make sure your answers are well prepared, are honest and unique to you. Our medical interviewing masterclasswill prep you with insider tips and secrets to succeeding at this stage so you go in feeling confident, with tailored responses ready to win your place.

When you’re training to be a doctor and you’re coming up to the end of your medical school education, there are multiple training pathways to choose from. Which option is best for you, depends on your circumstances, goals, and your learning style.

Pathways tend to change each year, with multiple different entry points to consider depending on each individual organisation. Following medical school, whether your course lasted for four or six years, you’ll eligible to apply for foundation training and have gained provisional GMC registration. Of course, some foundation programmes require certain speciality training pathways and may have required you to study another degree subject for a year alongside traditional medical school. This isn’t an essential step, but it can help to improve your career prospects, particularly if you have a certain medical field in mind that you would like to pursue.

Foundation years

If you’re preparing to enter foundation years, you need to apply this autumn to begin in the summer of 2019. It’s the most common step from medical school, lasting two years and aims to give you an opportunity to experience a range of medical or surgical specialities. It’s a chance to find which career path is the right option for you and where your interests lie.

Over the two years, you’ll experience between six and eight rotations. Foundation Year 1 enables you to begin supervised responsibility for patient care and to bring together the skills you’ve learnt during your time at medical school. By the end of year one, you should expect to obtain your full GMC registration. Foundation Year 2 builds on the skills learnt in the previous year, such as making management decision, but you’ll still remain under clinical supervision. On satisfactory completion, you’ll receive Foundation Programme Certificate of Completion (FPCC), formally known as the Foundation Achievement of Competency Document (FACD), which indicates you’re ready to enter a core, speciality, or general practice training programme.

Speciality training pathways

When it comes to your next training pathway, you’re free to choose your speciality, this will define whether you enter uncoupled training or run-through training programmes. Training programmes differ in length and structure depending on the area you’re focussing on if you choose to enter general practice the programme will last for three years, while other specialities can range between five and eight years.

Uncoupled training programmes – Uncoupled training programmes consist of core training and then entry into a higher speciality training. Core training is either two years, for core medical and surgical training, and three for core emergency medicine and psychiatry.

Run through training programmes – For a run through programme you apply once and are recruited for the entire duration. You begin with an overview of the speciality and gradually specialise more over the duration.


Tags: medical training pathways, training pathways after medical school, medical training,


Whether you’re training to become a healthcare professional or you’re a veteran of the industry, you’re likely to be frequently using evidence based practice medicine. It’s an essential way for ensuring that patients always receive the best level of care with their situation in mind.

What is evidence based practice medicine?

Evidence based medicine, or EBM, is an approach to optimise the multitude of decisions healthcare professionals have to make on a regular basis. EBM aims to ensure that the decisions taken are based on reliable, up to date research, reflecting how quickly medical care can change.

It’s an approach that’s important to all healthcare fields, from doctors making decisions about the treatment a patient will receive to policymakers considering industrywide changes. EBM places an emphasis on using scientific research that’s relevant to those in your care and have the understanding to know when they should be applied to your patients to influence decisions, taking into account the patient’s individual needs, values, and interests.

Why is it used?

EMB is widely used because it’s an effective way to make decisions. It takes into account that there is often a collection of studies with a differing range of patients – urging healthcare professionals to select those that are most relevant to their decision. For example, two patients that have the same conditions could benefit the most from widely different treatment courses due to their age, with aggressive but effective treatment preferred for a young person while someone who is elderly may obtain a better quality of life by not having treatment at all.

The EMB approach takes the information found in trials, research, and studies and applies the results to be effectively used in a clinical practice setting. It bridges the gap between research and action to deliver improved outcomes to patients.

While EMB is regarded as the gold standard of clinical practice and used widely, there are, of course, limitations too. Recognising the criticism the approach faces gives practitioners an opportunity to reduce or mitigate them. For example, how well EMB works depends directly on the quality of research that it’s based on, which can contain bis, conflict of interests, or simply inaccuracies. There’s often a significant lag between when the research is conducted and published, meaning it can be difficult for healthcare professionals to be working in line with the latest best practices in mind.

Not too long ago, gene therapy would have sounded like something out of science fiction. But it’s a process that’s rapidly becoming viable to treat a huge range of conditions. The potential successful gene therapy holds means it could unlock a whole new chapter in modern medicine.

What is gene therapy?

Gene therapy uses nucleic acid as a drug to treat disease by introducing it into a patient’s cells. The first attempt to modify human DNA took place almost four decades ago but the first successful nuclear gene transfer in humans didn’t occur until nine years later in 1989, while the first therapeutic use of gene transfer and the first direct insertion of human DNA into the nuclear genome occurred just a year later. It led to a boom in the research being conducted into gene therapy, with over 2,300 clinical trials taking place over the last 25 years.

Gene therapy is designed to compensate for abnormal genes, giving it plenty of scope to treat and cure a range of different conditions. As with all new medical developments, gene therapy has encountered obstacles along the way, but it could be about to take centre stage.

So, what can gene therapy do?

As gene therapy introduces altercations to a patient’s genetic make-up, it’s potential has been linked to a vast array of results, among them:

  • Genetic engineering – Gene therapy could hold the key to eradicating diseases that we’re born with through being conducted on each foetus, but it can also prevent or cure those that occur later in life. While genetic engineering can tackle disease, in theory, it can also be used to alter other areas in a foetus, such as appearance, intelligence, and memory, making it a highly debated ethical topic.
  • Cancer treatment – A cure or improved treatment for cancer is being explored from multiple avenues, including gene therapy. Gene therapy aims to improve the body’s ability to recognise and attack cancerous cells, enhancing the patient’s natural abilities through adding genes to their immune system.
  • Tackle infertility – Were patients suffer from infertility, early stage research indicated that gene therapy could be used to re-establish fertility. The trials have yet to be approved for humans, but the early results suggest it could be a promising route for researchers to continue exploring.


Billions of pounds have been invested into HIV research around the world and a breakthrough has been made – HIV antibodies have successfully been combined, potentially paving the way for a cure to the infection being found,

In the UK, HIV affects over 100,000 people, around 0.16% of the population, although, worryingly, more than one in ten are unaware of the infection. Although awareness campaigns have led to the number of HIV diagnoses declining since the beginning of the century, thousands still find out they have the infection each year. Improved awareness and better diagnostics mean fewer people are being diagnosed late, which is significantly cutting the number of deaths within the first year diagnosis. Treatment too has rapidly improved – in 2015, less than 1% of people living with a diagnosed HIV infection in the UK died.

Despite this, an HIV cure has yet to be discovered but the latest advancement suggests it may only be a matter of time.

An experimental HIV antibody currently being trialled has successfully suppressed the virus for six months without the need for further treatment. It’s believed the therapy targeted long-lived cells that are affected by the virus, leading to the illness being suppressed. The study, which was conducted by the Beth Israel Medical Centre, the teaching hospital for Harvard Medical, is still in the early stages but its findings are promising. The research suggests that there is an effective way to not only treat HIV but provide protection against the virus too.

The data gathered as part of the study, indicate that focuses on activating and eliminating a fraction of the viral reservoir could be a key area to focus investment and resources in the fight against HIV.

For now, it’s hoped that the antibody drug could lead to an effective vaccine or treatment for those infected but it’s pushing the boundaries of HIV treatment. The US team isn’t the only research team that’s racing towards a cure either, it’s high on the agenda of many other researchers, including some based in Europe, signalling that a vaccine and cure are within grasp.

The latest research covering HIV demonstrates how rapidly medical advancements are progressing. Just forty years ago, HIV was considered a death sentence. Today, it can be effectively diagnosed and managed to allow patient to live long, full lives in spite of the virus.


At the moment, the diagnosis process can seem longwinded and the options you have available aren’t always exactly what you need. But a new tool could soon change that by allowing professionals to quickly and cheaply build up the diagnostic test that they need.

While it’s still in the early stages of development and is being designed with the challenges third world countries face, it’s an idea that has the potential to shape how diagnostic tests are completed in the future. The diagnostic platform comes from the MIT Little Devices Lab and has been dubbed plug-and-play devices due to their customisable features and versatility.

Ampli, as the device is called, uses a set of modular blocks that can be configured in numerous different ways to create effective diagnostic devices. For example, one way of putting the block together will accurately test blood glucose levels in a diabetic patient, while another configuration will be able to detect a viral infection. With little skill required to put the blocks together, the Ampli development could change the way diagnostic procedures are done.

The modular blocks stand out for a number of reasons.

  • They’re low cost – Compared to alternatives, Ampli is incredibly low cost. Each block costs just a few cents making it accessible to smaller labs. It makes it affordable for healthcare professionals to carry out the diagnostic tests that can support patient outcomes and wellbeing.
  • They don’t require specialist handling – The Ampli concept was designed to work in labs around the world, including those that aren’t well equipped with the latest tech. They don’t require any specialist handling and don’t even need to be refrigerated, providing more scope for them to be used.
  • Diagnostic tests can be completed in-house – In some circumstances, samples need to be sent many miles for even basic tests to be conducted. The modular block approach means they can be completed in-house, reducing wait times and how treatment progresses.
  • They’re adaptable – Ampli can act as a single kit to diagnose a range of conditions, with around 40 blocks at present. It’s an adaptable approach to medicine that can be changed to reflect the demands of each healthcare professional.

The team behind Ampli aim to get the product into small labs and they’re already working on new blocks and configurations that would provide further testing capabilities. Is the Ampli approach something you’d like to see expanded to operations in the UK, could it be useful in a modern healthcare setting?


With long organ donation lists and patients being put at risk, an opt out system is being hotly debated in the UK. At the beginning of the year, MPs backed a landmark bill that would introduce an opt out organ donation process, paving the way for it to be an approach that’s adopted in the UK.

The bull was put forward after it was revealed that England has some of the lowest rates of organ donation in Western Europe and around 500 people die every year due to a lack of suitable donors. Should it move forward, the system would mean everyone is listed as a donor unless they actively register their decision to opt out. It would replace a system where donors need to actively register on the NHS Organ Donor Register or a family chooses whether to donate if no decision has been recorded.

But while the opt out system has received the backing of MPs, it still has arguments both for and against.

For opt out organ donation

Right at the top of the list of arguments in favour of the system, it the number of lives it could save. A similar system is already in place in Wales and polls suggest the general public are in favour of being part of the system. This is further underpinned by the fact that medical advancements mean organ transplants are far more likely to be successful, increasing the lives that could be saved.

It’s also argued that those against the opt out system are reasoning based on sentimentality rather than logic when weighed up against the benefits patients could experience with shorter donor waiting lists.

Against opt out organ donation

Despite the pro arguments, there are several core arguments against arguments that need to be addressed. Those that oppose the opt out system typically don’t disagree with trying to extend the organ donation programme but rather the strategy that’s being taken. It’s been stated that the opt out system implies that bodies belong to the state and that campaigns to increase donor recruitment is a better option.

It also raises safeguarding issues, as patients haven’t directly said they do want their organs to be donated and those that want to refuse could feel pressured by social norms to comply.

Do you think an opt out organ donation system will work better than the current process?