Background: Widening access initiatives to medical school (WAMS) have had mixed success. One reason may be the competing interests of different stakeholder groups involved. The aim of this scoping review was to explore stakeholder perspectives of widening access initiatives to medical school in the UK.
Methods: Scoping review, including the use of data sources from published literature from 1998 to 2018, CINAHL, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, ProQuest Education Collection, PsychINFO, PubMed, key journals and citation tracking.
Results: The review focused on the 12 papers which comprise 11 studies and can be categorised into: 8 studies on Widening Access initiatives done in the UK, 2 studies on stakeholder perspectives only and 1 generic review on “best practices” in WAMS. The 4 main areas targeted by the WAMS initiatives in this review include: outreach, selection, transition, retention and completion. They also display several key features which could have contributed to their success and sustainability, namely: committed personnel and resources, selection of suitable WAMS applicants, focused sessions based on needs of students, led and delivered by a combination of staff and medical students, utilisation of technology and social media and data collection and feedback. The stakeholders identified are as follows: students, parents, school teachers, medical schools’ admissions deans, WAMS facilitators, policy makers, hospital management and the public. Their interests and perspectives have been tabulated.
Conclusions: WAMS in the UK have come a long way since their inception, but much remains to be done in achieving their desired results more broadly. As more resources are being allocated to WAMS around the country, a more thorough exploration of stakeholder perspectives and interests may be helpful in understanding how these programmes work.