Applying for medicine can be extremely stressful, especially since every year it gets more and more competitive. Applying to the right medical schools is so important for maximising your chances of getting in, but also in terms of your happiness and education for the next 5/6 years. Here are a few of my tips on how to choose:
1) YOU NEED TO LIKE ALL OF THE UNIVERSITIES THAT YOU APPLY TO.
It’s fine to have a dream university but you should be happy going to any of the 4 you’ve applied to. This is because it’s increasingly difficult to get into medical schools and even great candidates may only get one offer if anything. Of course have confidence, but just keep this in mind.
2) THINK ABOUT A RANGE OF FACTORS :
-the course style and structure (primarily)
-the city and its demographic
-the distance from your home and how far away you want to be/how expensive going home will be.
3) DON’T RELY ON LEAGUE TABLES
I personally don’t think that looking at league tables is the way to choose a medical school. There are so many different ones that say different things based on different criteria. At the end of the day, every medical school will teach well and you will get a medical degree at the end; foundation year job applications don’t consider which medical school you went to either. What’s more important is to find the medical school that is suited to your personality.
4) LOOK CAREFULLY THROUGH THE COURSE DESCRIPTIONS AND CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
– does this course allow intercalation? (A great opportunity)
– does this course offer dissection? (Only a few do and speaking from a medical student who has dissected as well as looking at prosections, it helps massively in learning anatomy)
– is the course patient focused from the start? (Or is it more traditional pre clinical with mainly lecture based teaching, then clinical years- I personally think it is always useful and fun to have early patient exposure)
– is it purely PBL, or purely lecture based? (Many are in the middle and I think this is the best way to learn medicine)
– is there good medics student support?
– are current students happy? Many medical students (at certain medical schools more than others) are highly competitive with fellow students – this can be difficult to handle and cope with. Leicester is one where there is a culture to be friendly and helpful, whereas at some other unis, to do well, you need to have connections. So, if you can, talk to current students at different medical schools and learn about the culture.
5) IT’S AN INDIVIDUAL CHOICE
Don’t be pressured by your parents, friends or teachers – it’s about where you will be happy for the next 5/6 years. I would not recommend basing your university decision on your boyfriend or girlfriend or friends and family. As nice as it is to have support, you will make friends at any university and true friends/relationships will last beyond university even with the distance. The university choice should be purely your own.
6) BE REALISITIC
It is good to be ambitious, but you have to maximise your chances and there are no schools which are easy to get into. Look closely at the requirements for each uni and if you don’t fill all of them, even if just by one or two things, it’s risky applying there.
UKCAT score – don’t apply to medical schools who in the previous year only accepted students with a higher UKCAT score than you, as it goes up every year. If you are not so confident in your score, don’t worry but consider applying to one of the non-UKCAT unis too (Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol or the BMAT unis UCL, imperial Oxford and Cambridge)
BMAT unis – the BMAT is risky in itself because you can’t apply after the score has come out. It is a difficult exam testing many subjects and you have to do well in each section. It is therefore a risk to apply to more than one BMAT university -definitely I wouldn’t recommend applying to three as a slip up in the BMAT would mean knocking out all of your chances.
Try to apply to medical schools with a range of offers if possible. For my year, only a few unis had A*AA offers and so I applied to one of these and other unis with AAA offers. Look carefully at the requirements and decide.
I feel very blessed to be in medical school and can honestly say that Leicester medical school is the perfect place for me. There are obviously times when the med school doesn’t seem so perfect, for example the very high pass rates for exams is always a pain! However, I think the teaching standard, integrated and patient centred style of teaching and actually the challenging exams, is what makes Leicester graduates such competent doctors. Above all, I love the culture in Leicester of working hard, playing hard too and supporting fellow medical students. It is probably the most friendly and supportive university in terms of the the students.