Friday, 7 December 2012

A Guide To Applying For Graduate Entry Medicine Part 1: An Overview

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


I’ll start off by saying that I’m in no way an expert in applying for Medicine. What I’m writing and the advice that I’m giving is purely based on my own experiences, and therefore I can’t guarantee that what I’ve written is 100% correct. I know though, that when first looking at applying for medicine there’s a lot of information to research and things to consider and it can be a bit daunting , so having researched applying to Medicine as a graduate for several years, gone to open days, ordered and read all of the prospectus’s, bought and read “applying for medicine” books and spoken to current med students I thought that I could share what I’ve learnt from the experience which will hopefully be helpful to some people J.
 
As a graduate you have 2 main options when applying to study medicine after already having completed a degree: Graduate entry courses (4 years) or applying to Undergraduate courses as a graduate (5 year courses). The 4 year graduate entry courses tend to be more competitive than undergraduate courses, but as well as being an extra year longer, undergraduate courses cost a lot more to do (I’ll do a detailed separate guide on the financial side of things shortly). Most people, due to the extra competitive nature of graduate entry medical courses apply for a mixture of graduate entry and undergraduate courses.
The structure of the medicine course tends to be: the first few years are more academic, going over the theory of medicine with the later years being more hands on patient contact where you’ll have rotations in different medical areas in hospitals practicing the skills you’ve learnt. Depending on the university, you might have some patient contact from the start of the course. There are 2 main teaching styles at Medical school – problem based learning (learning by working through case studies in a group with your peers and an academic facilitator) and traditional (lecture based with some group work), or a mixture of the two. Neither style is better, it’s just what suits your way of learning best.
 
UCAS

You have to apply to study Medicine through UCAS. It’s a long online form requiring basic information about yourself and your qualifications plus a personal statement and an academic reference. The personal statement is where you have to write approximately 1 page detailing why you want to study medicine, what qualities make you suited for medicine, your work experience and any extra-cirriculars which you do. The academic reference is ideally written by your university personal tutor. They’ll get given login details to input their reference onto UCAS themselves and you don’t get to see it. The closing date for applications to study medicine is October 15th. Normally you can apply for a maximum of 5 courses when applying through UCAS, but for medicine you can only apply for a maximum of 4 medicine courses (whether they’re graduate entry, undergraduate entry or a mixture of the two). If you apply for more than 4 medicine courses than your application won’t be valid, so don’t do that! If you wish to you can apply for a 5th alternative degree (ie. a degree which isn’t medicine (or dentristry or vetinary science)). As a graduate though I don’t know why you’d do that as you already have a degree so doing another non-medicine degree seems a bit pointless. There’s a £23 administration fee to apply for courses starting in Autumn 2013.
 
Entry Requirements
  • Academic requirements generally universities require a 2.1 degree or higher. There are some exceptions to this; a few of the universities accept a 2.2 under some circumstances or with a good GAMSAT score, and a minority of universities ask for a 1st or a good 2.1 (over 65%). Some universities also take into account A Level and GCSE grades, but most universities don’t even look at them and just use your degree as evidence of academic capability.
  • Work experience as a general rule I would recommend that people have work experience that shows that you have knowledge of the everyday work of a doctor (Eg. shadowing etc.) and some experience of hands on work in caring role (Eg. voluntary work in a hospice or at a nursing home or as a healthcare assistant etc.). Voluntary and paid work experience are both valid. I would also recommend that you have at least one example of experience (preferably hands on experience) which you’ve done over a longer period of time to show dedication. This doesn’t have to be full time experience, it can be as little as an hour or two a week over several months.
  • Extra-curriculars it’s also good to have some hobbies or extra-curricular activities outside of medicine to talk about in your personal statement to show that you’re a well rounded person. Social activities such as sport or being part of a university society are generally better than saying you like reading, for example.
  • Entrance exams the majority of graduate entry medicine courses, and undergraduate courses open to graduates, require you to sit the UKCAT exam. Some universities require you to sit the GAMSAT exam instead of the UKCAT, and Oxford and Cambridge require you to sit the BMAT exam. (There’s quite a lot to write about the different exams so I’ll write about them all in more detail in a separate guide shortly.)
Where to find out more information
  • University websites and prospectus’s normally have all the entry requirements for the individual university courses and are a good starting point.
  • It might be a good idea to try to go to the open days of the universities you’re most interested in where you can tour the university facilities and ask any questions.
  • The website newmediamedicine has some really good forums where you can discuss applications and different universities etc. with other applicants and current medical students.
  • There are various books available giving detailed information about applying for medical school. Most of them are aimed at undergraduate students, but most of the information in them is still relevant anyway. One book which I would recommend is “Getting Into Medical School 2013 Entry” by MPW. Some of the information is quite basic, but it covers all of the important areas and a new edition is brought out each year so it’s up to date which is important as things such as entry requirements for medicine change from year to year. Additionally, in the 2012 version which I read, there were tables for the previous year detailling the number of applicants per university, the number interviewed and the number which were successful which I found really useful in working out which universities were more competitive than others.
Overall, the main things that I would recommend for people to be working on for Autumn 2013 entry (the application deadline for which is October 15th 2012) now would be: research which entrance exams you want to sit and book them, if you’ve not done so already organise work experience and research what the requirements are for the individual universities that you’re interested in.
As you can see from the length of this(!), there’s a lot to consider when applying for Medicine, but hopefully I’ve covered most of the basics. It’s hard to think of everything people might want to know though, so if anyone has any questions please feel free to comment and I’ll do my best to answer J. In the next few weeks I’m planning on doing a few more in depth guides which will hopefully cover the different universities and their requirements, entrance examinations, work experience and a financial guide.

[EDIT: This post took ages to write and seeing as I didn't seem to have many/any readers I didn't bother writing any other guides. Maybe I'll revive this before the next application cycle]

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