Studying medicine is a highly sort after degree programme and with only 35 of the 130 UK universities offering a medical programme, the entry is extremely competitive.
Every year around 22,000 people apply to study medicine for less than 8,000 places. Medicine remains one of the most highly regarded career paths with excellent career prospects.
The course is tough and demanding but hugely rewarding for the right candidate. In this degree profile, we look at the key things you need to know before applying.
Most universities are looking for a minimum of 2 grade A’s and a grade B in Sciences and/or Maths but the reality is that you will need at least 3 A’s/A*s or a minimum of 36 IB points excluding TOK, with 6/7’s at Higher Level.
It is vital that you check each university’s requirements for subject combinations as they can vary –Dundee, for example insists on Chemistry, whereas to apply to Edinburgh, it is essential to have Biology. Aberdeen are happy to accept two Science A Levels and one non science subject whilst Imperial prefer 3 Sciences or Maths.
In addition to exam predictions students also have to take one of two tests as part of their application. The majority require UKCATand about 10 require BMAT – you must check which test is required prior to making your application. Once your application has been accepted and reviewed you may be one of the lucky ones that gets invited for an interview before being offered a place.
There is a lot to cover in medicine even over the 5 or 6 years of study, so the days are long (typically 9am -5pm) and they are packed with lectures, seminars and lab based practicals. Most medical programmes break down into Pre Clinical and Clinical.
Pre Clinical covers the fundamental aspects of the structure and function of the human body and the basic mechanisms of human disease and the principals of clinical anatomy whereas Clinical focuses on clinical skills with a hospital attachment and specialist clinical areas.
Be aware that different universities have different styles of teaching Medicine – will a traditional lecture based style suit you or would you be better with a PBL (Problem Based Learning) approach?
After the first 5 or 6 years are completed students then have to do 2 years working in a hospital before they are fully qualified. To train in a speciality can take up to another 5 years. Under new regulations it looks as if there may be a required commitment to work in the NHS for a minimum of 4 years post qualifying.
It may be a long haul but medical students top the table as some of the most employable and highly paid graduates. Most universities can claim 100% employment record from their medical departments.
With over 60 specialist areas of medicine, qualified doctors can work in a range of different environments from hospital and research institutes to the armed forces and overseas aid agencies.
Home status fees for medical programmes are capped at £9,250 a year. Currently for International students it can range from £20,000 a year at Newcastle to over £40,000 a year at Cambridge and at Edinburgh the clinical studies can be closer to £50,000 a year.
*Fees for international students are under review following the Government announcement lifting the cap on International student places from 2019. International students may now be required to bear the full costs of the clinical placement which are currently calculated at £110,000 a year. For example, Cambridge University has elected to spread these costs over the full 5 year degree with international tuition fees to cost of £70,000 a year from 2019.
Applying to Medicine
Jamie Harkness is eagerly awaiting his A Level results to see if he has secured his place to study medicine at St Andrews, here he offers prospective students some advice about applying to medical school and what worked for him.
“Applying to study Medicine at university is arduous but, in my experience, completely worth the effort. While considering work experience, personal statement and interviews you must bear in mind that you are competing (on average) with 9 other, highly skilled, people for each place. Therefore you must aim to make your application the best it can possibly be.
The best applications do not necessarily have the most work experience, or fancy doctor-shadowing in hospitals. They tend to have at least one piece of work experience which is different, and thus makes the personal statement stand out from the others. With this knowledge I arranged work experience at a Recovery Centre for mentally ill soldiers (most of whom were suffering from PTSD or depression), as well as work at a centre for severely disabled children.
Another stand out thing to complete is an Extended Project (EPQ). This counts as an extra qualification, and is essentially a project consisting of an essay, log book and presentation. It can be on anything you wish to write about, but should attempt to be original in some way. I wrote mine on future treatments of Alzheimer’s Disease, and it was a popular focus for questions in interviews. This type of project is very handy in the personal statement, as it shows your interest in the subject of Medicine.
Other things not to be ignored are extra-curricular activities. These range from Gold DofE and sports to school science awards and medical books you have read. All of these are important in showing how your personality is suited for Medicine, as well as showing your interest in the subject.
All Medical schools in the UK require you to take either the UKCAT or the BMAT. These are additional tests used to differentiate candidates. I found that it was very useful to book into an intensive course, which taught me neat tricks of how to do well. Also, there are many practise books which you can buy which help you to prepare.
If your application is successful, you will be called for an interview at the university. Each interview is different, but most can be narrowed down to either panel or Multi-mini Interviews (MMI). To prepare for interviews you MUST know what is currently going on in the Medical world. I was asked about something in the recent news in all of my interviews. Also learn your personal statement inside out because again, they will ask you questions on it. Furthermore, I found it very useful to look up practise questions online, as well as arrange mock interviews with teachers who then gave me feedback.
Like I said, the application process for Medicine is long and difficult, but putting in the extra effort will make it worthwhile. I hope that this very brief summary will help to guide you in some way through your own application. Good luck!!”