A guide to studying Medicine at university - including what to expect, reasons to consider the subject area, application tips and a careers overview.
Why consider studying Medicine at university?
Medicine is a fascinating field of study which offers the ability to apply science to real life situations, working with other health care professionals to deliver excellent patient care.
Doctors hold positions of leadership and responsibility and make a difference to people’s lives. Their roles are intellectually stimulating and practically challenging. It is a difficult career to follow, but hugely rewarding.
There is a considerable variety within medicine, including community or hospital-based medicine. On completion of full-time undergraduate study there are options to work flexibly, including a possibility of a portfolio career, for example, becoming a general practitioner with a specialist interest. Medicine graduates have excellent employment opportunities with good pay. Watch this section on the video from 00:49 to 03:49
What to expect if you study Medicine at university?
The content of medicine courses is based around preparing graduates for a career in the National Health Service (NHS). Medicine degrees provide a very rich learning environment, with a mixture of scientific researchers teaching about ‘cutting edge’ medicine and research, learning about clinical teams across the community, hospital medicine and input from patients and carers informing students what it is like at the centre of NHS care. Students learn scientific aspects, including anatomy and physiology, how the body normally works and what happens in the disease process.
Many courses have early year placements, where students learn in a safe environment how to take the history of, and examine patients. Patient contact time in clinical and general practice and within the hospital environment increases year on year, with students eventually being embedded in patient care, shadowing qualified doctors. There is increasing use of IT within the curriculum, which gives ready access to required knowledge and IT is also used for work-based assessments, enabling regular feedback on progress throughout the course.Watch this section on the video from 03:49 to 06:14
Application tips for Medicine courses at university
All medical schools use the same selection tools, which are:
- the academic record obtained from the UCAS form
- an admissions aptitude test
- an assessment of non-academic values using prospective students’ personal statement and references
- subsequent interview.
The main shortlisting tool is the academic record and aptitude test, the use of the personal statement is considered the least valuable, but provides good preparation for interview, where development of key skills and attributes will be discussed.
The entry requirements for all UK medical schools can be found on the Medical Schools Council website in their entry requirements booklet. Individual medical school websites have further information, and it is important that prospective students visit these websites to explore the range of courses on offer and determine what these establishments are looking for.
These medical school websites also give information on competition ratios, have practice aptitude / admissions tests, give the deadlines for submission of these tests and the format of interview processes.
Finance should be no barrier to applicants for medicine and all the admission tests have some form of widening participation bursary to refund fees associated with the tests. If required.
Attributes that make a good doctor include good listening, understanding and communication skills as well as compassion, honesty, respect and dignity, and development of these attributes are likely to be discussed at interview as well as your motivation to become a medical student.
The interview is likely to consist of multiple mini-interviews which may include role play and stations where candidates will be asked to present back information they have been given – further information is available from the individual medical school websites.
Contact details are given on medical school websites and students are encouraged to use these to ask questions that come up on their application journey. Students should also refer to information on the Medical Schools Council website and the Studyinghealthcare website, which are key sources of free, reliable information.Watch this section on the video from 06:14 to 13:22
Career opportunities after a Medicine degree
After graduation from Medical School and the achievement of Provisional GMC registration, UK Medicine graduates apply to foundation schools to undertake 2 years paid employment as a foundation or junior doctor before choosing a speciality career in hospital or general practice. The duration of this subsequent training will depend on whether it is full or part time and which hospital or general practice specialisation is chosen.
The NHS careers website has video clips, information and a quiz tool to help find a health career path and options for a ‘Plan B’ if accessing medicine school is not possible initially. Prospective medical students can apply for a fifth choice as well as four medical schools.Watch this section on the video from 13:24 to 15:42
With thanks to the event speaker
Dr Gail Nicholls, Head of Admissions for the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds
Jon Cheek, Founder and Director, UniTasterDays.com