Professor Jon Dowell

Programme Director (Teaching and Scholarship)

Medicine Office, School of Medicine

Portrait photo of John Dowell
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+44 (0)1382 383747


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.