If you’ve been keeping up to date with medical education news, you could not miss the announcement that the exams medical students sit are going to be changes in a few years. The national exam would change the way doctors are trained and could have a significant impact on the numbers that pass, procedures, and hiring within the industry in the future.

Although plans for the new national exam, called the UK Medical Licensing Assessment (UKMLA), were approved back in 2015, the first cohort of students won’t sit the exam until the 2022 as part of their end of year academic exams. But what’s the difference and what does the shift mean.

What is the current process?

At the moment each medical school set their own exams that students are required to pass. Each exam must comply with standards set out by the General Medical Council and must cover certain aspects of the curriculum that has to be taught in all schools. It means that there are differences both in the way students are taught and how they are assessed across the country.

The UKMLA will change that.

From the academic year 2021/22, all those studying medicine will take a unified exam before they are granted a licence to practise in the UK.

Why is it changing?

The main reason the national exam is being introduced is to provide unity across the whole of medical education in the UK. The General Medical Council has stated that the move aims to demonstrate that there’s a common threshold for safe practice, providing reassurance that high standards will be me and upheld across all medical schools.

The information that’s available now

As the first national exam being sat is still some time away, there is some information missing on how it will work. However, most of the basic information is now known.

Anyone who wants to begin practising medicine for 2022 inwards will need to pass the exam, which will test a combination of medical knowledge and clinical skills. The exam itself is likely be integrated into part of medical school finals, rather than being a standalone exam. Despite initial concerns, it’s also been confirmed that UK students are unlikely to have to pay an extra fee to sit the exam.

While some in the medical sector have welcomed the move to a unified exam, others have raised numerous concerns. Do you back the idea of all medical students should sit the same exam before practising?