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Choosing to apply to the right medical schools for you is essential since one of those universities may end up being where you spend over 5 years of your life training to become a doctor. So first you must understand how medical schools in the UK in the UK train medical students to become doctors.
Undergraduate Medicine is usually a 5/6-year course at most universities in the UK. Graduate Medicine is typically a 4-year course. There are over 40 different medical schools across the country and over 23,000 prospective medical students, including international medical school applicants, applied for places last year. In the UK, to study medicine you can apply to up to 4 medical schools via UCAS or you can apply directly to the medical schools.
The medical profession guarantees you the chance to give something back to society and contribute to improving people’s lives. If you keep this at heart during the process of applying to medical schools and while you train to become a doctor, it will take you a long way in getting you where you want to be.
The years of training and hours of study require dedication and strong motivation to get you through it. So it is important that you take your time and give it some thought whether this is the career path for you. Read books written by doctors about what it is really like to do their job. If you know someone who is a healthcare professional or a current medical student ask them questions about their job and the journey getting there. Watch a documentary about the NHS / doctors. There are many ways you can learn about what this career path will entail.
There are 3 different types of medical courses offered by universities in the UK
Traditional courses will dedicate your first two years of education to teaching you the scientific theory underlying medicine – this includes learning anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and more. After this, your remaining years will be spent learning clinical medicine during hospital and GP placements. During this second part of your medical education you will learn to apply everything you learnt in your first two years into clinical practice. This type of course would best suit students who prefer to have all the knowledge they need before learning to apply it practically.
Integrated medicine courses are different to traditional courses in that you will be exposed to the clinical environment from the very beginning of your course. In this type of course, you will learn the scientific background of medicine while simultaneously learning to apply that knowledge in a clinical setting. This type of course would best suit students who prefer to learn and apply knowledge at the same time and who would like to be exposed to the clinical environment from early on in their course.
PBL course are unique in that they strongly focus on self-directed learning and problem-solving. Like traditional courses you will learn the scientific theory behind medicine before exposure to the clinical setting. In this type of course you would work in small groups alongside a tutor to solve hypothetical clinical scenarios – thus in this way your pre-clinical education would be very clinically-focused and patient-oriented. Only a small handful of universities offer this type of medical course because it is a very modern approach to learning.
Team Based Learning (TBL) has become more popular in recent times with medical schools. It is a form of blended learning and provides an alternative to PBL as described above. As the name suggests, medical students gain experience of working in a team to solve clinical problems. There are a number of advantages to this approach including, encouraging pre-learning by medical students before meeting in the teams (of usually 5-6). It also encourages peer-learning, bringing a range of diverse views and methods of learning to be exchanged.
One of the newest medical schools in the UK to adopt TBL right from the first year is Brunel Medical School, opening its door to its first students in September 2022.
Intercalated degree: An intercalated medical degree is offered by some medical schools in which you study a specific area of interest for one additional year in the middle of your medicine degree. This intercalated degree means you obtain a BA or BSc (or equivalent) in addition to your medical degree in the end. At some medical schools intercalating is compulsory while at others this is optional.
This is just an overview of UK medical schools and you will need much more information to help you pick the right universities to apply to. It is important that you not only visit the medical school websites but also to speak to current students at these various universities to get an idea from them of what their medical school is like.
Visit our Mentors page to find current medical students and speak to them about their medical school and ask your questions.
Before applying to medical schools you also need to know what they will require from you. This will help you to not only choose the right medical school for you but also to prepare for the UK medicine application process.
To apply for British Medical Schools, an applicant would require the following:
But it is important that you visit the websites of the medical schools you are interested in applying to and find out the specific subjects and grades that they require of their applicants since these do vary between universities.
Visit Admissions Tests at UK Medical schools to find out more