From Sixth Form to Medical School

Eye-opening hospital work experience
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Medicine is a hugely rewarding career. Not only does studying medicine offer the potential of a secure career with good rates of pay and the personal satisfaction of helping others, but medicine is hugely varied with a number of options available to newly qualified medical school graduate. Medicine is also highly competitive and getting into medical school can be challenging with all medical schools receiving far more applications than they have places, so making the right decisions in sixth form can boost the chance of being successful.

A medical degree takes a lot of commitment with five years of university study and several more years training in the workplace. Practising medicine also involves huge responsibilities with the people’s lives reliant on the decisions made. And with long hours it can be an emotionally and physically demanding job too. Because of the commitments and dedication required, it’s important students are sure that the career is right for them, so the first step in embarking on a medical degree is to talk to teachers, friends and parents and make sure you are suitably equipped for a career in medicine. One of the best ways to assess if medicine is the career for you is to do some work experience in a healthcare setting. Not only will this help you to decide if medicine is for you, but it will provide you with valuable experience that can help secure a place at medical school. Only 31 of the UK’s universities offer courses in medicine, and because of the competitive nature, places are highly sought after.

Tanzania staff on Gangilonga Rock above the Gap Medics house in Iringa

Less than half of applications to medical school are successful, and while the qualifications and subjects required vary from school to school, A-level grades of at lease AAB or AAA will be required. A-levels in Maths, Chemistry and Biology are pretty much mandatory for most medical schools just to get to the first screening stage. Choosing the right location to study A-levels is crucial and different schools and colleges have different success rates in getting students into medical school, so proper research on where to study your A-levels can increase the likelihood of success.

UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, handle all applications to medical school, but most medical schools require far more than just good A-level qualifications for a place. Medical schools place a lot of emphasis on the personal statements entered on theUCAS form, which should include examples of work experience and references. Once past the initial screening process, entrance exams are also mandatory at most medical schools. Even if this stage is passed, most schools then conduct final interviews to assess that the student has the dedication and commitment necessary for a career in medicine. Only if a student satisfies all these criteria will they be considered, and often, many students find they have to apply several times in successive years before they finally get accepted.

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