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Deciding to study medicine is an exciting decision. However, once you have decided that a medical degree is for you, you have the challenge of deciding which one you want to study at. Throughout all of the UK, there at 34 GMC recognised medical schools. If you are applying during your A-levels, you will need to apply for a Medicine degree, however if you are a post-graduate student you will need to find out what medical schools offer graduate entry (which is typically 4 years).
Where you study is incredibly important, as you'll be at university for 5 years, which is a long time. It's important you do as much research as possible, so you feel you have enough information to make an informed decision about where you want to study. If you apply via UCAS you will only have 4 choices, with your 5th choice being for a different subject.
Here are a couple things to consider:
Location: There are medical schools in England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, across the width of the country. You may decide to go to a medical school that is close to home or move to an entirely different city. If you are moving away from home, you will have to consider accommodation fees and the cost of living independently. It's also important to consider that if you choose to study in London, the cost of living is much higher, however your maintenance loan will reflect this. Some universities will be set within large cities, or you may be interested in a campus university. A final consideration is if the degree is at a tecahing hospital or on a university campus.
Teaching Style: Whilst medical schools cover the same skills and competencies provided by the GMC, it's important to check how each medical school teaches their students. Additionally, there can be variance in clinical placements, practical procedures, and student teaching. All schools will offer either traditional, problem based or an integrated learning style for students - this will be outlined by the university at open days or online.
Benefits and Drawbacks: All medical schools will have different pros and cons to studying with them. It's important to visit open days and check websites to see what the school can offer you in order for you to graduate as the best Dr you can be. You can see if they offer intercalation, additional degrees, or certification. Often medical schools will have mandatory research or audit projects, which is something to look into if that's what you are interested in. Also, there are different forms of student support. Another important aspect is if your school offers pro-section, dissection, or virtual anatomy sessions. It's also interesting to see how long the Medical School has been running, some courses have been running for numerous years, however the UK has many newer medical schools.
Entry Requirements: It's important to consider your predicted or achieved grades when searching for a medical school. You can also check if they offer contextual entry requirements, which are typically lower, if you meet specific criteria. You may also have to sit specific A-Levels, with many universities needing Chemistry. For those who are sitting the international baccalaureate diploma programme (IBs), all medical schools will need different results in order to meet the requirements.
In summary, whilst it can be daunting, choosing medical schools should be a fun and exciting process. Try and do as much research as possible and make a pro/con list of your potential choices.