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How to apply to medical school

How to apply to medical schoolMilap Rughani, a fourth year medical student, talks about life as a student and gives some handy tips on applying to do medicine.

My aim is to let you know the student perspective; what life as a medic is actually like, some tips on applying to medical school and also dispelling some of the age old myths and rumours surrounding UCAS applications to medical school.

If you are considering studying medicine, then you will already know that it’s a big decision to undertake such a demanding course both mentally and emotionally, spending five or six years of your life in a completely new environment, testing your skills to the limit and developing additional ones you never knew you had.

Why put yourself through such a long, hard course?

Well its not that bad, firstly you are guaranteed a job when you finish, after a few years you can earn significant amounts of money, the hours are similar to other demanding careers and you are part of one of the most respected and honorable professions around.

For most people a career in medicine provides a lifetime of novelty, challenge, immense satisfaction and vast enjoyment. And trust me – life as a medical student is the best fun you’ll have.

When you first arrive at university it is a culture shock. It’s bigger than anywhere you’ve studied before, there are more young people than you’ve ever seen before and there’s an endless supply of activities, resources and distractions, which you can’t wait to explore.

Will I be able to understand the work?

Starting university as a medical student is very exciting; you’re taking your first steps to becoming a doctor. Don’t be too worried about not fitting in or not being able to handle the work. The medical course is designed to introduce you to the basic sciences and then use this knowledge on patients.

In the first year, you will have to attend some lectures in the mornings, with a few breaks in between and then some tutorials to do some group work. For the second part of the day, you usually have practicals, either in the lab, dissection room or classrooms. The day usually starts about 9/10am and finishes by 3/4pm. As you go on further, you will have fewer lectures and more time on the wards and with patients.

Unlike other courses, medicine enables you to get to know the 200 or so students in your year pretty quickly. The daily lectures, tutorials and practicals allow you to mix with a whole variety of people. If that’s not enough for you to make friends then there’s the infamous medical society social life.

Tips for applying to do medicine

So, how do you get in on to medicine course? There are no hard and fast rules but there are things you can do to make sure you’re in with a chance.

  • Think clearly about why you want to do medicine and write a list of your reasons – it would be good to get these across in your application.
  • Whichever university you apply to, make sure you visit it, talk to the students and have a good look around the campus and city – five years is a long time!
  • Try and get some experience in a hospital, GP surgery or hospice – it’s good to see what being a doctor is really about. If you’ve tried applying for work experience and just cannot get any, then don’t worry, think about doing some voluntary work or some community related work.
  • Don’t worry about, meeting the ‘set’ criteria for medicine, everyone is an individual and has different qualities to offer, just be positive about what you have to offer.
  • If you get an interview, then be confident and relax, it’s your opportunity to sell yourself, if you have any questions then don’t be shy and ask them!

You might have heard some scary rumours about the application process – hopefully these points will set your mind at ease:

  • Don’t worry about applying to other universities, and being discriminated against your other choices – selectors no longer see which other universities you’ve applied to.
  • It doesn’t matter if you also apply for a non-medical degree, as long as you can show a case for applying to medicine.
  • If you want to take a gap year - then do so, universities encourage students with different interests who have a range of experiences they can bring to their course.
  • Our selectors are not influenced by whether your parents are doctors, or what type of school you come from. It is you they are interested in.