How Do I Choose Which Medical School to Apply to?
With so many medical schools in the UK, it is hard to know which medical school you should be applying to. We’ve listed some key factors to consider when making the decision.
‘Which medical school?’ – Key question 1: Which style of teaching suits me best?
A degree in medicine is a significant investment of your time. You want to make sure that the course uses a teaching method that you find effective.
Traditional medicine courses focus heavily on scientific lectures, which teach you subjects like anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology. These courses aim to teach you the science of medicine before you start any significant clinical training.
With integrated/systems-based courses, the clue is in the name: clinical training is included in the early days of your course, alongside lectures teaching you medical theory.
The third main style, of course, involves teaching through Problem-Based Learning (PBL) or Case-Based Learning (CBL). If you find that you do not learn best by absorbing lots of information through lectures, then this style of teaching is for you when deciding which medical school suits your personality! With this style of learning, you are given the details of a patient’s health care as a ‘problem’ to solve: it involves learning through projects, group collaboration, and research challenges.
Key Question 2: Does it offer an intercalated year?
Many medical schools now offer the option to take a year out of your normal medical curriculum, to study another subject of your choice! Many students do not even know this is an option when deciding which medical school to apply to and miss out.
Some, like Brighton and Sussex Medical School, allow you to move to a different town in the UK for a year. This can be an exciting opportunity to broaden your holistic knowledge of science, improve your research skills, and have a change of scenery from the fast pace of medical school.
Key question 3: Does it offer full-body dissections?
For some, the prospect of doing dissections is intimidating. However, there are many benefits to considering this aspect when choosing which medical school can best further your future clinical career. Doing dissections on real cadavers can be invaluable for familiarising yourself with human anatomy, and serves as practice for a specialisation in surgery. Only a few medical schools in the UK teach through full-body dissection: Nottingham, Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), Cambridge Medical School, St Andrews, and Imperial College are examples.
Key question 4: What are the student satisfaction scores?
Student satisfaction scores can give you a measure of how much students who attend the school enjoy the course. Other factors you might want to consider: is the medical school situated in a big city, or is it in a more rural, village area? Is it near the beach? If you know that the buzz of the city distracts you from your learning, this might be an area to consider!
Key question 5: What are my strengths as an interviewee?
To maximise your chances of receiving an offer, it helps to figure out the type of interview you perform best in when deciding on which medical school is worth investing time to apply to. Some types of interviews for Medical School include:
Traditional ‘Panel’ Interviews – will often involve a board of interviewers exploring your motivation for studying medicine, your work experiences, personal statement, and your capacity for medical empathy.
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) – each station involves a shorter interview or task testing you on particular skills, such as breaking the bad news to patients, empathy, or case-based problem-solving.
Oxbridge interviews are distinct from the two above: they often involve more difficult or unpredictable questions.
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