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The UK National Health Service is undergoing fundamental reforms, which might have a detrimental effect on the training of doctors, not least with respect to the amount of clinical experience that medical students get. We compared the practical experience gained by two cohorts of students at medical schools throughout the UK, who had started their training in 1981 or 1986. The assessment was made by questionnaire at the end of their final clinical year. Experience of acute medical conditions, surgical operations, and practical procedures differed significantly between groups of medical schools, and showed a significant decline in the past five years. This decline in the clinical experience of medical students has coincided with the introduction of the health service reforms. We suspect that the university-based clinical education designed for a lifetime of change is in danger of being replaced by a dispersed clinical apprenticeship for current practice.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





941 - 944


Analysis of Variance, Clinical Competence, Consumer Behavior, Education, Medical, Undergraduate, Evaluation Studies as Topic, Health Facility Closure, Humans, Length of Stay, London, Students, Medical, Surveys and Questionnaires, United Kingdom, Workload