Dr Gail Nicholls


Gail is an Associate Professor in Primary Care, with a background in general practice she has been working at the University of Leeds for 15 years. As Interim Director of Admissions for the School of Medicine, her work includes strategic oversight of both undergraduate and postgraduate admissions and academic leadership for widening participation and outreach activities.

Gail has been working at the University of Leeds since April 2003 initially as a sessional facilitator and then an Honorary Lecturer on different Integrated Core Units of the MBChB. She has taught on years 1 - 4 of the MBChB, the Intercalated BSc, the Postgraduate Masters in Primary Care and part of the International Foundation Year. Her work has included module design and delivery, quality assurance, campus and placement tutor training and support. She previously led the specialist Primary Care module before moving to her current role in Year 1. She has also had extensive involvement in the design and delivery of assessments on placement and end of year assessments most recently acting as the co-lead for the introduction of a Year 2 MBChB Feedback OSCE.

Gail was appointed an Associate Sub-Dean for Admissions in 2007 and has been Director of MBChB Admissions since October 2012. This role involves the strategic management of all applications to the MBChB in response to national and local stakeholder policies utilising best practice from within and outwith the sector. As Interim Director for Admissions for the School, she now has oversight of all admissions into the School, both undergraduate and postgraduate. As the Widening Participation Lead for the School she involved in the design and delivery of outreach projects, mentoring programmes and projects both within the School and in the wider University. Nationally, in addition to the MSC Selection Alliance Board, she is a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners Discover General Practice Advisory Group and the Medical Schools Council Summer Schools Advisory Group. 

She is an elected member of the Medical Schools Council Selection Alliance board currently commencing her second term in this role. This board is responsible for implementing the recommendations in the Selecting for Excellence final report and for setting the strategic direction of the Selection Alliance’s work across the UK. As the clinical lead for outreach for the Royal College of General Practitioners, her outreach activities are built around a collaborative partnership between medical schools, the Medical Schools Council, RCGP, HEE and the local NCOP. 

The Leeds GP work experience model, which is underpinned by evaluative research, places applicants to medicine from a widening participation background in clinical placements with supportive workshops at the University pre and post has been expanded to 17 partner universities. Additionally, the model has been used as part of the NCOP Go Higher in Healthcare initiative in 2018, spanning healthcare professions and involving a number of local education partners across Yorkshire, a targeted intervention for pupils from a widening participation background. In October she co-led an outreach event for final year school pupils from across Scotland at the RCGP Annual Conference. 

She is an external examiner for Hull York Medical School and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.



  • Director of Admissions for the School of Medicine
  • Campus to Clinic Lead for Year 1 MBChB

Research interests

In 2014, Gail led a team commissioned to carry out research as part of the Medical Schools Council’s Selecting for Excellence project. The study explored prospective candidates’ opinions of work and caring experience and how these are used in their application to medical school. Data was collected by a large-scale survey and focus groups from applicants to the University of Leeds, School of Medicine. 

Her current research work is related to the design and delivery of outreach and widening participation interventions that her team have carried out locally and nationally, supported through funding obtained from HEE, RCGP and Go Higher NCOP. The GP work experience programme is part of larger initiatives to promote general practice as a career, cited as good practice in By Choice not by Chance and contributing to the response to the Destination GP survey of medical students perception of General Practice 

During the last 12 months she has been an invited speaker at Developing Excellence in Medical Education Conference as part of a presentation with the Medical Schools Council; the NEON Conference A Sustainable Service: Widening Access to Healthcare HE and Medicine; and run a workshop on work experience at the Medical Schools Council Conference for outreach practitioners: A Journey to Medicine.



  • BSc – University of St Andrews, 1994
  • MB ChB – University of Manchester, 1997
  • MRCGP (Distinction) – Royal College of General Practitioners, 2002 
  • MMedSc in Primary Care - University of Leeds, 2010  
  • Fellow Higher Education Academy

Professional memberships

  • Member of the Royal College of General Practitioners

Student education

Her main teaching responsibilities sit within the undergraduate medical course in the early years of the MBChB in work that spans both campus and clinical based teaching. She also teaches on the Intercalated BSc, Postgraduate Masters in Primary Care and is a supervisor for student intercalated BSc and ESREP projects.