The University of Edinburgh is to launch an innovative scheme that enables NHS professionals working in Scotland to retrain as doctors.
The Scottish Government is to fund 25 new places at Edinburgh Medical School that will allow trainees to keep working while they study.
The programme – the first of its kind in the UK – has been designed to help address the shortage of doctors in Scotland.
Students will study part-time for the first three years, mostly through online learning, enabling them to continue working in their current location and post.
They will complete a further two years of full time clinical study in Edinburgh before graduating with a full MBChB degree, enabling them to register with the General Medical Council.
Before the scheme, health professionals such as nurses and paramedics who wanted to retrain as doctors were required to complete a full-time undergraduate degree programme.
The new programme, set to launch in 2019, recognises that many health professionals have already acquired clinical knowledge and skills that are relevant to practising as a doctor.
It is designed to widen access and target candidates who are more likely to be retained in NHS Scotland.
The new course builds on experience from Edinburgh Medical School's existing successful postgraduate online Masters programmes for healthcare professionals.
Professor Moira Whyte, Head of the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded places for this innovative programme in medical education – a first in the UK.
“By combining new technologies and traditional medical teaching in general practice and hospital settings, we hope to reduce barriers that have previously deterred people from moving between health professions. We expect the scheme will make an important contribution to addressing doctor shortages across Scotland.”
The Scottish Government today announced it will fund 85 additional places at the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow through innovative new undergraduate medical courses.
Each of the new courses will focus on general practice, supporting the Scottish Government’s aims to increase the number of GPs by at least 800 over the next decade.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “The innovative proposals from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow universities will see 85 new places to specifically promote general practice as a long-term career for young doctors, and allow experienced healthcare professionals who may be interested in becoming doctors to enter medicine.
“The courses will include more involvement of GPs in teaching and assessment and enhanced GP placements in deprived and rural settings.
“While our new GP contract will make general practice a more attractive career by cutting workloads and giving doctors more time with patients, these new medical places are a further step we are taking to train and retain more family doctors in Scotland.”
Pharmacist Steven Tominey joined Edinburgh Medical School in 2014 to retrain as a doctor. He said: “I think the new MBChB for healthcare professionals is a wonderful and exciting idea. It will be refreshing to have prior skills and experience acknowledged. In particular, the opportunity to work during the early years alongside the course will both ease the financial burden of studying a second degree and enable further development of professional skills and knowledge.”