UCAS has recently announced that more people are choosing to study Medicine, with 670 students from Wales applying to study from next September – the highest number in five years.
British Medical Association Cymru Wales is sponsoring this year’s Seren Conference and will be giving students the chance to talk to them about how to get into medicine as well as leading the ‘Applying for Medical Professions’ session.
They’ve also written a guest blog for Seren students which explores the range of career options in the medical sector and what to think about when planning your application. Medical school isn’t just for students that aspire to be doctors, studying medicine can lead to a wide range of health-related careers.
So, you think you’d like to study medicine, but worry that it might not be for you? Students often think that they have to be straight A* students or have bags of work experience in a hospital or doctors’ surgery to land a place on their preferred medical course.
But medical schools look for more than just high grades; they want students who are dedicated and can relate to their patients. The same goes for work experience. Gone are the days where only people that aspire to be doctors study medicine, so admissions teams look for students with a range of different skills and experiences.
We’ve put together our top tips for those who want to study medicine at university, to put you in with the best chance of securing a place.
10 things to think about
- Plan – think about what you need to do to be an attractive applicant. Getting into medical school is not just about grades, it’s about showing you are an interesting individual who has the foundations of being a good doctor. Demonstrate that you can be a good listener, and are reliable, honest and trustworthy.
- Target work experience. Lots of people try to get work experience in nursing homes but it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Perhaps you’ve worked in a café managing difficult customers? Think outside of the box.
- Get involved – sports, voluntary work, clubs and projects at school or in your local community. This can help you stand out from the crowd as an individual who consistently goes above and beyond and gives you the opportunity to develop the skills mentioned in point one.
- Look at different courses – not all medical courses are the same. Some have no patient contact for the first two to three years (traditional course), whilst others include early contact (integrated course). Some universities offer an integrated Bachelor of Science degree. Which one is best for what you want to do?
- Take advice from others who have been to medical school or look at online forums and student satisfaction surveys.
- Think about where you might like to live. You may want to be close to or far from home. Some universities have a campus on the outside of a town, others are central. There may be financial considerations – cost of rent, transport etc. which will have an impact on where you choose to live.
- Have an insurance choice as your 5th option, e.g. Bachelor of Medical Sciences, or a science degree in a university which also offers medicine – you might be able to transfer if your university offers a transfer scheme and you meet their criteria. Or, you can consider applying for a postgraduate medical degree when you have completed your undergraduate course.
- Consider taster courses, such as medsix or medism. Most universities run taster courses for medicine, so have a look online and get a taste for what kind of course you’d like to do.
- Attend open days – get a feel for the university and the type of students that go there.
- Look at requirements and make sure you meet them.
The BMA is committed to providing medical students with essential support as they progress through their studies. We stand up for students studying across the UK both individually and collectively on a wide variety of issues. We lobby for improvements to medical education, student finance, future jobs and the future of the NHS.
If you are fortunate enough to gain a place to study medicine make sure you get ahead of the game by joining the BMA for free in your first year. As a member, students gain free additional study resources, guidance on dealing with key issues and access to our individual advisors. Come and meet us at the Seren national conference to learn more.