Professor Sandra Nicholson

Prof Sandra Nicholson

Founding Dean of Three Counties Medical School

Dean of School

Contact Details


I joined the University of Worcester as the Founding Dean of the Three Counties Medical School in November 2021 following 25 years as a medical academic at QMUL. I received my primary medical qualification from Leicester University in 1988, MRCGP in 1993, and have practised as a GP for over 25 years, most of which in areas of high social deprivation such as the East End of London.

I gained a Masters in Medical Education in 2001 and consolidated my academic trajectory with a research PhD in 2013 that explored the models of learning and professionalisation of medical students from non-traditional backgrounds.

My personal research interest is in selection to medicine but my passion is in widening participation and increasing diversity of the medical workforce. I have sought, often collaboratively, to promote these aims and led novel start-up companies such as the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (now UCAT) and participated in international research networks e.g. InReSH (International Research in Selection in Healthcare).


MB ChB July 1988,
MRCGP 1993
MSc Medical Education, 2001
PhD Medical Education, 2013
Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2016


Teaching Interests

All things GP and I have a core belief in the importance of placing the student at the centre of all teaching. I can pretty much teach any of the undergraduate medical curriculum but I have to confess you probably don’t want me as an anatomy lecturer. But to know your strengths and weakness is important! I love supporting learners of all ages in increasing their knowledge and experience of medical education as a theoretical subject and facilitating their scholarship.

Research Interests

Elected as Chair of Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) in 2018 she has developed a strategic action plan that heralds ASME as a leader for UK medical education scholarship and research. Sandra has successfully published and has a personal track record of leading and being a co-applicant on both quantitative and qualitative research proposals attracting both internal and external funding through competitive bidding. She has supported the impact of medical educational research by engaging with policy holders as evidenced by her involvement with projects commissioned by the Medical Schools Council and has been invited to join the Advisory Board for the NIHR Incubator in Clinical Education Research.

Professional Bodies

  • Chair Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) 2018-
  • Member Advisory Board for the NIHR Incubator in Clinical Education


Alexander, K., Nicholson, S., & Cleland, J. (2020). “It’s going to be hard you know…” Teachers’ perceived role in widening access to medicine. Advances in Health Sciences Education. doi:10.1007/s10459-020-09984-9

Zhou, S., Carroll, E., Nicholson, S., & Vize, C. J. (2020). Blurred vision. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 368, m569. doi:10.1136/bmj.m569

Sabitova, A., Sajun, S. Z., Nicholson, S., Mosler, F., & Priebe, S. (2019). Job morale of physicians in low-income and middle-income countries: A systematic literature review of qualitative studies. BMJ Open, 9(12). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-028657

Alexander, K., Cleland, J., & Nicholson, S. (2019). Bridging the cultural divide? Exploring school pupils' perceptions of medicine. MEDICAL EDUCATION, 53(6), 571-583. doi:10.1111/medu.13805

Fielding, S., Tiffin, P. A., Greatrix, R., Lee, A. J., Patterson, F., Nicholson, S., & Cleland, J. (2018). Do changing medical admissions practices in the UK impact on who is admitted? An interrupted time series analysis.. BMJ Open, 8(10), e023274. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-023274

Dowell, J., Cleland, J., Fitzpatrick, S., McManus, C., Nicholson, S., Oppé, T., . . . White, K. (2018). The UK medical education database (UKMED) what is it? Why and how might you use it?. BMC Med Educ, 18(1), 6-14. doi:10.1186/s12909-017-1115-9

Cleland, J., Alexander, K., & Nicholson, S. (2018). Widening Access: Achieving Equity in Medical Education. In Selection and Recruitment in the Healthcare Professions (pp. 249-274). Springer International Publishing. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-94971-0_10

Patterson, F., Cousans, F., Edwards, H., Rosselli, A., Nicholson, S., & Wright, B. (2017). The Predictive Validity of a Text-Based Situational Judgment Test in Undergraduate Medical and Dental School Admissions.. Acad Med, 92(9), 1250-1253. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000001630

Alexander, K., Cleland, J., & Nicholson, S. (2017). Let us not neglect the impact of organizational culture on increasing diversity within medical schools.. Perspectives on medical education, 6(2), 65-67. doi:10.1007/s40037-017-0342-4

Patterson, F., Knight, A., Dowell, J., Nicholson, S., Cousans, F., & Cleland, J. (2017). Response to Adam et al. regarding selection methods. Medical Education, 51(6), 670. doi:10.1111/medu.13251

Alexander, K., Palma, T. F., Nicholson, S., & Cleland, J. (2017). 'Why not you?' Discourses of widening access on UK medical school websites. MEDICAL EDUCATION, 51(6), 598-611. doi:10.1111/medu.13264

Nicholson, S., & Cleland, J. A. (2016). "It's making contacts": notions of social capital and implications for widening access to medical education.. Advances in Health Sciences Education. doi:10.1007/s10459-016-9735-0

MacKenzie, R. K., Cleland, J. A., Ayansina, D., & Nicholson, S. (2016). Does the UKCAT predict performance on exit from medical school? A national cohort study.. BMJ Open, 6(10), e011313. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011313

Nicholson, S., Hastings, A. M., & McKinley, R. K. (2016). Influences on students' career decisions concerning general practice: a focus group study.. British Journal of General Practice, 66(651), e768-e775. doi:10.3399/bjgp16X687049

Lievens, F., Patterson, F., Corstjens, J., Martin, S., & Nicholson, S. (2016). Widening access in selection using situational judgement tests: evidence from the UKCAT.. Medical Education, 50(6), 624-636. doi:10.1111/medu.13060

Patterson, F., Knight, A., Dowell, J., Nicholson, S., Cousans, F., & Cleland, J. (2016). How effective are selection methods in medical education? A systematic review. Medical Education, 50(1), 36-60. doi:10.1111/medu.12817

Nicholson, S., & Kelly, M. (2015). Commentary.. Education for primary care : an official publication of the Association of Course Organisers, National Association of GP Tutors, World Organisation of Family Doctors, 26(3), 146-147. doi:10.1080/14739879.2015.11494333

Cleland, J. A., Nicholson, S., Kelly, N., & Moffat, M. (2015). Taking context seriously: explaining widening access policy enactments in UK medical schools. MEDICAL EDUCATION, 49(1), 25-35. doi:10.1111/medu.12502

Tiffin, P. A., McLachlan, J. C., Webster, L., & Nicholson, S. (2014). Comparison of the sensitivity of the UKCAT and A Levels to sociodemographic characteristics: a national study. BMC MEDICAL EDUCATION, 14. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-7

McManus, I. C., Dewberry, C., Nicholson, S., & Dowell, J. S. (2013). The UKCAT-12 study: educational attainment, aptitude test performance, demographic and socio-economic contextual factors as predictors of first year outcome in a cross-sectional collaborative study of 12 UK medical schools. BMC MEDICINE, 11. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-244

McManus, I. C., Dewberry, C., Nicholson, S., Dowell, J. S., Woolf, K., & Potts, H. W. W. (2013). Construct-level predictive validity of educational attainment and intellectual aptitude tests in medical student selection: meta-regression of six UK longitudinal studies. BMC MEDICINE, 11. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-243

Nicholson, S., & Cushing, A. (2013). The importance of non-verbal behaviour: issues for selection, training and assessment. MEDICAL EDUCATION, 47(9), 858-860. doi:10.1111/medu.12268

Turner, R., & Nicholson, S. (2011). Can the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) select suitable candidates for interview?. MED EDUC, 45(10), 1041-1047. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2011.03993.x

Turner, R., & Nicholson, S. (2011). Reasons selectors give for accepting and rejecting medical applicants before interview. MED EDUC, 45(3), 298-307. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03874.x

James, D., Yates, J., & Nicholson, S. (2010). Comparison of A level and UKCAT performance in students applying to UK medical and dental schools in 2006: cohort study. BRIT MED J, 340, . doi:10.1136/bmj.c478

Nicholson, S., & Raval, D. (2009). Professionalism: what it means to doctors today. BRIT J HOSP MED, 70(8), 470-474.

Nicholson, S., Cook, V., Naish, J., & Boursicot, K. (2008). Feedback: its importance in developing medical students’ clinical practice. The Clinical Teacher, 5(3), 163-166. doi:10.1111/j.1743-498x.2008.00231.x

Grime, P., Williams, S., & Nicholson, S. (2006). Medical students' evaluation of a teaching session in occupational medicine: the value of a workplace visit. OCCUP MED-OXFORD, 56(2), 110-114. doi:10.1093/occmed/kqi006

NICHOLSON, S. (2005). The benefits of aptitude testing for selecting medical students. BMJ, 331, 559-560.

Nicholson, S. (2005). Commentary: The benefits of aptitude testing for selecting medical students. BRIT MED J, 331(7516), 559-560.

Kamali, A. W., NICHOLSON, S., & Wood, D. F. (2005). A model for widening access into medicine and dentistry: the SAMDA-BL project. Medical Education, 39(9), 918-925.

Cook, V., NICHOLSON, S., Cason, F., & Carter, Y. (2005). Maintaining the quality of community-based education: an evaluation of an innovative, centralised system for giving student feedback to undergraduate general practice tutors. Education for Primary Care, 16, 184-191.

Nicholson, S. (2002). 'So you row, do you? You don't look like a rower.' An account of medical students' experience of sexism. MED EDUC, 36(11), 1057-1063.

Nicholson, S., Osonnaya, C., Carter, Y. H., Savage, W., HENNESSY, E. M., & Collinson, S. (2001). Designing a community-based fourth-year obstetrics and gynaecology module: an example of innovative curriculum development.. Med. Educ., 35(4), 398-403.

Campbell, J., Hobbs, F. D. R., Irish, B., Nicholson, S., Pringle, M., Reeve, J., & Rosenthal, J. (2015). UK academic general practice and primary care.. BMJ, 351, h4164. doi:10.1136/bmj.h4164

External Roles

  • Chair Association for the Study of Medical Education (ASME) 2018-
  • Member Advisory Board for the NIHR Incubator in Clinical Education
  • Honorary Professor Barts and The London, QMUL