Tips for Choosing Medical Schools
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ― Albert Einstein
💪Apply to your strengths
Tailour your medical application to the specific admissions criteria of your chosen universities; how do they use the UCAT and BMAT? Different medical schools will have different weightings and may even use them twice, first to shortlist applicants for interview and then again on deciding who to give offers to. Research them thoroughly
💌 Apply to the universities that you love
Remember you will spending at least 5 years at your chosen university; reputation is irrelevant with a Medical degree. You will all graduate with a medical degree and be working in the NHS as foundation doctors. Don't just apply to a university because you think it is "easy" because all medical schools are hard to get into.
👩🏫 Apply to the universities that are best suited to your learning style
Different universities have different teaching styles whether it be: PBL, CBL, integrated or Oxbridge.
📟 Research each university thoroughly
Whether it be through ordering a prospectus or browsing their website, it is essential that you make an informed decision.
🎫 Check out their website tours and chat to current students
Medical schools are now creating online resources to help you including virtual tours, videos and Q&A sessions with medical students. Furthermore, most university websites and UCAS now allow you to chat with students studying medicine via Unibuddy. Check out their websites!
🏫Visit their Open days (if possible!)
This is a fantastic opportunity to explore the university and its surroundings so that you can see if you can study and live there for the duration of the course! It also gives you the opportunity to talk to staff members and students and ask them questions about the course/ life at the university (a question template is given below to help you get started!).
Important Dates for 2023 Open Days
(Information accurate as of Saturday 14th May 2022.
Always check the university website for up-to-date information!)
👇 We have provided a table below to give you guidance👇
❓ Questions to Ask At An Open Day
🎓What made the current students choose this course?
🏫How many students are there in a cohort? How many students apply per year and how many get interviews?
👨🏫How do they choose who gets an interview? Is it work experience based, UCAT/BMAT based?
📖What is the course structure? Is it traditional (with pre clinical and clinical phases), integrated, PBL or EBL?
🎉How is the social life in the town? How often does the students union arrange events for the students? Are there non alcohol events as well?
📚What is the resit policy at the university? Are assessments on a pass/ fail basis?
👩🎓How is student support like at the university? Do they get access to counselling, financial advisors, career support etc?
🧡How does the university support students with a learning difficulty?
💸Are there any scholarships/ bursaries available for students?
👩⚕️Is the course GMC accredited? How many students get foundation posts after graduation?
"Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid" - Albert Einstein
Traditional courses are split in half with the first 3 years being preclinical consisting predominantly of lectures, lab practicals, anatomy sessions, seminars and supervisions/tutorials. The supervisions and tutorials are extremely personalised and are a fantastic way to benefit from tutors who are leading experts in their fields. Similar to the integrated teaching style, a systems-based approach is utilised.
A huge portion of the independent learning is achieved through essays which allow you to delve deep into a topic to crystallise your thoughts, consider the clinical relevance as well as understand and critique experimental evidence (e.g. papers and reviews).
The last 3 years are clinically focused in which students work in hospital wards under the supervision of consultants. The traditional teaching style allows you to understand medicine from first principles and by understanding the science underlying medicine, you can become a more competent doctor or clinician-scientist.
The majority of medical schools are integrated in which the pre-clinical and clinical stages are combined. Through this integrated way of learning, you will take a system-based approach in which you consider the anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry and histology of the system all at once. This is to help develop a synoptic way of learning in which you can combine your knowledge from different modules rather than just compartmentalise it for each module. e.g. seeing the overlap between pharmacology and physiology or anatomy with histology.
You will also have clinical experience but the amount of which varies depending on the medical school. As always, check the university websites for up-to-date and more detailed information.
⚙️Problem Based Learning
PBl is a very patient-oriented learning style in which students learn through independent studying and guided group work with a tutor. It is a very open approach in which you make your own learning objectives with your group and share information you find out with each other. This encourages self-directed learning and teamwork. You won't really find a purely PBL teaching style; consider these teaching these teaching styles as a spectrum. Medical schools tend to take a blended approach alongside lectures and seminars etc.
🩸 🧠Case Based Learning
Case based learning is very similar to PBL and usually features a facilitator that will help to lead group work; this is utilised not only for knowledge but also for clinical skills.