Johnathan Dowell

+44 (0)1382 383747
Programme Director


I have evolved from a primary care researcher with an interest in the application of qualitative research methods, into a medical educator with particular focus on selection for medical school and improving overseas elective programs. Along the way I led the provision of GP based teaching at the medical school for 6 years prior to becoming Dundee Medical School Head of UG Education in 2014 and Associate Dean for Professional Practice in 2016.

During 6 years responsibility for student selection I became interested about and developed practice in the areas of contextual adjustments for Widening Access, the introduction of the Multiple Mini Interview and the application of the UCAT aptitude test. Through multifactorial contextual assessment Dundee Medical School has achieved enormous progress in widening access and contributed to this debate nationally. In 2007 Dundee introduced the first MMI in the UK an have assisted many other schools to do so since. Comparative research in 2014-15 reassures us that our approach remains leading edge with pleasing predictive validity. It has also been my privilege to lead the UCAT Research Panel and initiate a wide range of novel multicentre studies, creating a thriving open research culture. This led me to propose the creation of an enhanced Post Graduate linked database to the GMC in 2011. Hence I am very proud to be Chair of the UK Medical Education Database Research Group, which seeks to expand progress in this area and create an entirely new culture for UK medical education research ( ). I am a board member of the Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance.

Since 2004 I also sought to play a role in challenging the nature of medical electives through academic study as well as developing and promoting a more responsible 'fair trade' approach. See This is an exciting area of work as there is clearly much potential to improve the framework under which electives in resource poor settings operate.

As Head of Undergraduate Medical Education at Dundee from 2014 I have sought to refocus the aim of our activities onto the core task of producing talented and motivated doctors suited to serving the NHS, despite the challenging financial climate. I was pleased to contribute to the successful partnership proposal between Dundee and St Andrews Medical Schools to create a new graduate entry four year medical course for Scotland (ScotGEM). In 2016 I became the Interim Director leading the required GMC and University approvals processes.

Fundamentally I believe that a medical educator in the UK is a great privilege and that those running such courses have a responsibility to ensure society as well as the individual student benefit as much as possible from the investment.


PhD supervision

1. How are decisions ‘shared’ in general practice? A qualitative study of exemplar consultations. Robertson M. 2005

2. Community Hospitals: A study of resource use, decision making and patient outcomes. Grant J. 2002.

3. An exploration of the views, experiences and adherence of people with treatment resistant schizophrenia on Clozapine. MacGilivray S 2006

4. What influences prescribing in primary care. Grant A, 2006-10

5. The function of validated patient safety tools in an integrated undergraduate medical curriculum. Ambrose L 2006-11

6. Validation of the Communication and Relational Empathy scale in undergraduate medical students. Alnoman N 2009-14.

7. Empowerment of Zimbabwean and Malawian married women in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Tabeth Emmanuel 2011 – 16

8. The development of a computer-delivered measure of non-cognitive skills. Adrian Husbands 2011 – 17


Books and Chapters

1. Dowell JS, Huby.G, Smith.C. Tayside Centre for General Practice, editor. Scottish consensus statement on qualitative research in primary health care. Tayside Centre for General Practice, Dundee Uni. 1995; ISBN 1 899957 006.

2. Emslie-Smith A, Dowell J and Sullivan F. Managing heart disease and diabetes in primary care: applying the evidence in practice. In Heart Disease and Diabetes, Ed Bodansky J H. 2004; pp281-316.

3. Dowell J, Williams B, Snadden D. (eds) Patient-Centered Prescribing: seeking concordance in practice. Abingdon, Radcliffe 2007.

4. Dowell J. How do we select students with the necessary abilities. International Handbook of Medical Education: What Works? Abdulrahman K, Harden R, Mennin S, (eds). Routledge 2015; pp72-85

Peer Reviewed Articles

1. Dowell JS, Snadden D, and Dunbar J. Changing to generic formulary: how one fundholding practice reduced prescribing costs. Brit Med J 1995; 310:505-508.

2. Dowell JS, Snadden D, Dunbar J. Rapid prescribing change, how do patients respond? Soc.Sci.Med. 1996; 43(11):1543-9.

3. Dowell JS, Hudson H. A qualitative study of medication taking behaviour in primary care. Fam Pract 1997;14:369-75.

4. Cruickshank J, Dowell J. Computerised Prescribing Information for Practices (CPIP): A Tool or a Catalyst? Health Bulletin 1998; 714-7.

5. Dowell JS, Cruickshank J, Bain J, Staines H. Repeat dispensing by community pharmacists: advantages for patients and practitioners. BJGP 1998; 48:1858-9.

6. Dowell J, Pitkethly M, J. Bain, and Martin S. A randomised controlled trial of delayed antibiotic prescribing as a strategy for managing uncomplicated respiratory tract infection in primary care. BJGP , 2001; 51 (464):200-205.

7. Dowell. J, Snadden. D, Jones. A. Exploring medication use to seek concordance during consultations with ‘non-adherent’ patients: A qualitative study. British Journal of General Practice. 2002; 52, 24-32

8. Grant JA and Dowell J. A qualitative study of why general practitioners admit to community hospitals. British journal of general practice 2002; 52:628-634.

9. Emslie-Smith A, Dowell J, and Morris A. The problem of polypharmacy in type 2 diabetes. The British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease 2003; 3:54-56.

10. Dowell J, Pagliari C, and McAleer S. Development and Evaluation of a Concordance Training Course for Medical Practitioners. Medical Teacher 2004; 26 (4):384-386.

11. Hussey S, Hoddinott P, Wilson P, Dowell J, Barbour R. Sickness certification system in the United Kingdom: qualitative study of views of general practitioners in Scotland. Brit Med J 2004; 328 (7431):88.

12. Ker J, A. Dowie, Dowell J, Dewar G, Dent J, Ramsay J, Benvie S, Bracher L, and Jackson C. Twelve tips for developing and maintaining a simulated patient bank. Medical Teacher 2005; 27 (1):4-9.

13. Dowell J,The Prescriber’s Perspective (Chap 4) Reflections on Concordance. Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. 2004 Ed C Bond

14. Dowell J, Dent J, and Duffy R. What to do about medical students with unsatisfactory consultation skills. Medical Teacher 2006; 28 (5) 443-446.

15. Williams B, Mukhopadhyay S, J Dowell, J Coyle. From Child to Adult: An Exploration of Shifting Family Roles and Responsibilities in Managing Physiotherapy for Cystic Fibrosis. Social Science & Medicine. 2007; 65: 2135–2146

16. Williams B, Skinner J, J Dowell, R Roberts, I Crombie, J Davis. Reasons for the failure of guideline implementation in primary care: a qualitative case study of epilepsy guidelines. Epilepsia 2007; 48, 7, 1275.

17. Williams B, Mukhopadhyay S, J Dowell, J Coyle. Problems and solutions: Accounts by parents and children of adhering to chest physiotherapy for cystic fibrosis. Disability & Rehabilitation. 2007; 29 (14) 1097-1105.

18. Williams B, Coyle J, Dowell J, Mukhopadhyay S. Living with cystic fibrosis: An exploration of the impact of beliefs on emotional coping and motivation to adhere to treatment regimes among parents of children with cystic fibrosis in Scotland. International Journal on Disability, Community and Rehabilitation. 2007; 6(1)

19. Themessel-Huber M, Humphris G, Dowell J, Macgillivray S, Rushmer R, Williams B. (2008) Audio-visual recording of patient-GP consultations: A literature review on recruiting rates and strategies. Patient Education & Counseling. 2008; 71: 157-168.

20. Dowell J, Merrylees N. Medical Student Overseas Electives - Time for Change? Medical Education 2009; 43:121–126.

21. Williams B Corlett J, Coyle J, Dowell J, Mukhopadhyay S. “I’ve never not had it so I don’t really know what it’s like not to.” – An exploration of normalcy and biographical disruption among children and young people with cystic fibrosis. Qualitative Health Research 2009; 19(10) 1443-1455

22. Lynch B, Cleland J, Dowell J, Mackenzie R. Does the UKCAT predict first-year performance in medical school? Med Educ. 2009 ;43(12):1203-9.

23. Williams B, Dowell J, Humphris G, Themessl-Huber M, Rushmer R, Ricketts I, Boyle P, Sullivan F. Developing a longitudinal database of routinely recorded primary care consultations linked to service use and outcome data. Social Science and Medicine. 2009; 70(3): 473-8 doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2009.10.025

24. McKinstry B, Hammersley V, Burton C, Pinnock H, Elton R, Dowell J, Sawdon N, H D, Elwyn G, Sheikh A. The quality, safety and content of telephone and face-to-face consultations: a comparative study. Quality & Safety Health Care. 2010; 19(4): 298-303.

25. Rushmer R, Themessel-Huber M, Coyle J, Humphris G, Dowell J, Williams B. Is the Routine Recording of Primary Care Consultations Possible and Desirable? Lessons for researchers from a consultation with multiple stakeholders. Patient Education & Counseling. 2011; 82(2): 247-53. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2010.04.020.

26. Robertson M, Moir J, Skelton J, Dowell J, Cowan S. When the business of sharing treatment decisions is not the same as shared decision making: a discourse analysis of decision-sharing in general practice. Health: an Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 2011; 15 (1), 78-95.

27. Dowell J, Lumsden MA, Powis D, Bore M, Makubate B, Kumwenda B. Predictive validity of the Personal Qualities Assessment for selection of medical students in Scotland. Medical Teacher 2011; 33: e485-e488.

28. Adam J, Dowell J, Greatrix B. Use of UKCAT scores in student selection by UK medical schools. 2011; 11:98. BMC Medical Education MS ID:10.1186/1472-6920-11-98.

29. Tiffin P, McLachlan J, Dowell J. Widening access to medical education for under-represented socioeconomic groups: Modelling the impact of the use of the UKCAT in the 2009 cohort. Brit Med J 2012;344:e1805

30. Dowell J, Lynch B, Husbands A, Kumwenda B. The Multiple Mini-Interview in the UK Context: Three Years of Experience at Dundee. Medical Teacher 2012; 34: 297-304.

31. Till H, Myford C, Dowell J. Improving student selection using Multiple Mini Interviews with Multifaceted Rasch Modelling. Academic American 2013; 88:216–223.

32. Cleland J, Dowell J, McLachlan J, Nicholson S, Patterson F. Identifying best practice in the selection of medical students (literature review and interview survey). GMC – February 2013.

33. Kumwenda B, Dowell J. Is embellishing UCAS personal statements accepted practice in applications to medicine and dentistry? Medical Teacher 2013; 35(7): 599-603

34. Husbands A, Dowell J. The predictive validity of the Dundee Multiple Mini Interview. Medical Education 2013; 47:717-735.

35. Grant A, Sullivan F, Dowell J. An ethnographic exploration of influences on prescribing in general practice: why is there variation in prescribing practices? Implementation Science 2013, 8:72 doi:10.1186/1748-5908

36. McManus C, Dewry C, Nicholson S, Dowell J. The UKCAT-12 study: educational attainment, aptitude test performance, demographic and socio-economic contextual factors as predictors of first year outcome?in a collaborative study of?twelve UK medical schools. BMC Medicine 2013, 11:244 doi:10.1186/ 1741-7015-11-244

37. McManus IC, Dewry C, Nicholson S, Dowell J, Woolf K, Potts H. Construct-level predictive validity of educational attainment and intellectual aptitude tests in medical student selection: Meta-regression of six UK longitudinal studies. BMC Medicine 2013, 11:243 doi:10.1186/ 1741-7015-11-243

38. Hastings A, Dowell J, Eliasz M. Medical student electives and learning outcomes for global health: A commentary on behalf of the UK Medical Schools Elective Council. Med Teach. 2014, 36(4):355-7. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2013.849330.

39. Husbands A, Mathieson AM, Dowell J, Cleland JA, MacKenzie RK. Predictive validity of the UK Clinical Aptitude Test in the final years of medical school: a prospective cohort study. BMC Medical Education 2014, 14:88 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-88

40. Kumwenda B, Dowell J, Ringsel P, Royan D. Western medical students' experiences on clinical electives in sub-Saharan Africa. Med Ed 2014 Jun;48(6):593-603. doi: 10.1111/medu.12477.

41. Dowell J, Blacklock C, Liao C, Merrylees N. Boost or Burden? Issues posed by short placements in resource poor settings. Br J Gen Pract. 2014, 64(623):272-3. doi: 10.3399/bjgp14X679945.

42. Kelly M, Dowell J, Husbands A, Kropmans T, Jackson A, Dunne F, O’Flynn S, Newell J, Murphy A. Medical Student Selection: Can Multiple Mini Interviews work in an Irish setting? – A feasibility study. Irish Medical Journal 2014 107 (7): 210-12

43. Kelly M, Dowell J, Husbands A, Newell J. The fairness, predictive validity and acceptability of multiple mini interview in an internationally diverse student population-a mixed methods study. BMC Medical Education 2014 (14) :267. doi: 10.1186/s12909-014-0267-0.

44. Kumwenda B, Dowell J, Daniels K, Merrylees N. Medical Electives in sub-Saharan Africa – a host perspective. Med Ed 2015, 49 (6): 623-633. doi: 10.1111/medu.12727

45. Husbands A, Rodgerson M J, Dowell J, Patterson F. Evaluating the validity of an integrity-based situational judgement test for medical school admissions. 2015 BMC Medical Education. (15): 144.

46. Steven K, Dowell J, Jackson C, Guthrie B. Fair access to medicine: a retrospective analysis of UK medical schools application data 2009-2012 using four measures of socioeconomic status. BMC Medical Education. 2015, 15:165

47. Dowell J, Norbury M, Steven K. Guthrie B. Widening access to medicine may improve general practitioner recruitment in deprived and rural communities: survey of GP origins and current place of work. BMC Medical Education 2015, 15:165. DOI: 10.1186/s12909-015-0445-8

48. Patterson F, Knight A, Dowell J, Nicholson S, Cousans F, Cleland J. How effective are selection methods in medical education? A systematic review. Med Ed 2016, 50 (1): 36-60.

Publications Accepted

1. Rhoda Katharine MacKenzie, MBChB, MD; Jon S Dowell, BMBS, MD; Dolapo Ayasina, MBBS, MPh; Jennifer A Cleland, MSc, PhD. Do personal attributes assessed on medical school admission predict exit performance? A UK-wide longitudinal cohort study." 2016 Advances in Health Science Education

2. Wendy E. de Leng",,,,, "Scoring Method for Situational Judgment Test influences the Internal Consistency Reliability, Adverse Impact and Correlation with Personality" Advances in Health Sciences Education.