In this article we discuss some of the common abbreviations of medical and health organisations which you should know before your medical school interview. Although you do not need to know every last detail about these organisations, having a good understanding will no doubt assist you in conveying your awareness of the medical profession and what working in the health sector entails.

GMC (General Medical Council)

In a nutshell:

An important organisation to be aware of for your interview. They are a regulatory body designed to protect the public. They do this by setting standards for doctors and medical students and ensuring that they are maintaining these standards. They also set standards for medical schools and postgraduate education including judging if a medical school’s curriculum is acceptable. If people or organisations do not meet the required standards the GMC have the power to take action including removing their licence to practice medicine or their status as an accredited medical school.

In more detail:

Many other professions have regulating bodies which have a similar functions to the GMC. For example the General Dental Council or the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The GMC decide which doctors are allowed to work in the UK and ensure that throughout their careers they are meeting certain standards e.g. that their skills and knowledge are up to date; that they uphold certain values e.g. professionalism, confidentiality etc. The GMC have the power to put restrictions on a doctors practice (e.g. so that they cannot work in certain settings or perform certain procedures) and can even remove a doctors license to practice in the UK completely. The GMC maintain a list of who is able to practice Medicine in the UK. If you have ever heard of a doctor being “struck off”, it is a reference to being removed from this list and no longer having a license to practice Medicine in the UK. Doctors pay an annual fee to the GMC which helps the GMC pay for its costs. The GMC help doctors by providing educational materials and guidance but their ultimate aim is to protect the public. Doctors instead have different bodies such as the BMA to look after their interests.

BMA (British Medical Association)

In a nutshell:

The trade union and professional body for doctors. Over two thirds of practicing doctors are members. Many medical students are too.

In more detail:

The BMA represent the interests of doctors and medical students. They provide extensive support, advice and training for all aspects of a medical professional’s career. This can include employment advice, help with work disputes, extensive training, education and professional development, services for health and well-being. They campaign and lobby on behalf of the medical professions and give recommendations to the government. Membership in junior years is often free or a small amount and is typically a tax deductible expense.

BMJ (British Medical Journal)

Part of the BMA, the BMJ is the company that produces various medical journals and educational products and services. It also produces the self-named BMJ or British Medical Journal which is one of the most widely read and respected medical journals in the world. Often when people say the BMJ or “do you read the BMJ?” they are referring to the journal rather than the company. Content can be read online, in paper journals or on the mobile apps. They also produce the student BMJ, which is read by many medical students. It would be worthwhile reading the student BMJ from time to time. Content in the BMJ will typically reflect current medical news and these mainly come up in interview discussions.

BUPA (British United Provident Association)

You do not need to learn what BUPA stands for. You just need to know who they are. It is the name of a major private health care provider. Its clients (i.e. patients) are charged for their services (although the patients themselves may not actually directly pay – e.g they may have health insurance, or the NHS may pay for them to have treatment privately instead of with the NHS. This could be to reduce waiting list times for the NHS as they are unable to quickly or cost-effectively provide the service so they outsource it to the private sector). This is in contrast to the NHS which is the national health care provider in the UK and is free at the point of use for patients with a few exceptions e.g. dental work, prescriptions etc.

NHS (National Health Service)

This is the national healthcare model in the UK. The vast majority of healthcare in the UK is delivered via the NHS although there is a moderate private sector presence also. Medical schools aim to prepare students to work as a doctor in the NHS. The NHS is described as free at the point of use as generally speaking medical treatment and services are all free in the UK. Small exceptions include paying a flat rate limited amount of money for prescriptions or for some dental treatment. Help with costs for people with low income or chronic diseases is easily available. NHS services include GP’s and community services, all medical and surgical specialities, dentistry, podiatry, physiotherapy and many more services as well as the training of doctors and other health care staff. Other countries use a range of other healthcare systems. Some are predominately private such as America, some are a mixture of public and private which is a common model in the rest of Europe.

MPS/MDU (Medical Protection Society/Medical Defence Union)

These are the names of the two biggest organisations that aim to give legal and ethical advice to doctors for issues that arise in clinical practice. They can also represent and support them if they ever go to tribunals, hearings, court or face the media etc. They also offer education and training on medical, legal and ethical matters and provide counselling services also. You will likely come across them in medical school as they sponsor a lot of events, give out freebies such as books, stationery etc.

Prepare for your Interview with Medicine Answered

At Medicine Answered we aim to do everything we can to maximise your chances of gaining entry into your chosen UK or international medical school. We offer a range of services which are unique to our competitors as they are created and delivered exclusively by doctors who themselves gained entry into all four medical schools. We offer specialist one day medical school interview courses and also one on one medical school interview tutoring which can be done in person or online. We also offer an excellent 360° medicine personal statement review service.

You can book a place on our Medical School Interview Course, or our specialist tutoring sessions via our website. Alternatively, if you require any further information do not hesitate to contact us.