I studied Biomedical Sciences as my undergraduate degree at Newcastle University and then remained there for another year to do a Masters of Research in Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine.
Like a lot of students, I actually studied Biomedical Sciences knowing from the beginning that I wanted to do Medicine eventually!
I was only invited to one interview when I initially applied for Medicine during my A-Levels (and it didn’t go very well), so after receiving no Medicine offers I decided to go ahead and pursue a different degree instead of taking a year out and reapplying.
I applied for Medicine again during the final year of my Biomed degree and still had no luck. So I decided to do my Masters. Regenerative Medicine was something that had always interested me, but my knowledge of the area was quite limited, so I was keen to learn more about it.
I know some people say that you can’t really prepare for the admissions tests – but honestly, you can. I’m pretty certain that my previous applications for Medical School were unsuccessful due to my low UCAT scores.
So, just before starting my Masters, I went on a UCAT course which gave me a better understanding of how to approach the questions – and this definitely helped!
I did some medical shadowing whilst I was studying for my A-Levels. Then, during my undergraduate degree and my Masters, I did some volunteering.
My advice is to make sure you do some work that’s in a caring environment. Not only does it prepare you a little bit for clinical placements at Medical School (and ultimately for working in Medicine), but it’s also really rewarding!
Warwick has some specific work experience requirements (at least 70 hours of health or social care related work experience completed in the last three years) – so if you’re thinking about applying there, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to meet these requirements.
I applied for Medicine a total of three times (the third time being successful), whereas some of my course mates applied just once and were offered a place. So what’s the secret to obtaining a place? It really depends on how you perform compared to other applicants that year.
I’ve told a number of students interested in Medicine that one year you could be amongst some of the best applicants, whereas another year you could be considered average – but don’t let this put you off! Just try to do as well as you can in the admissions tests and interviews, and don’t worry about comparing yourself to other candidates.
I was so close to giving up and withdrawing my application before hearing back from my Warwick interview, because I was convinced that I wasn’t going to be offered a place. So my top piece of advice is: don’t give up.
I’m currently at Warwick, which was my first choice. One reason why Warwick appealed to me was that they offer Graduate Entry Medicine only and have more places compared to other universities that offer GEM.
When choosing a Medical School, make sure you do plenty of research – such as looking into entry requirements, selection criteria, location, teaching style used by the Med School, etc. Also, it’s a good idea to attend open days. It’s one thing to look at photos, but actually seeing the university in real life can be very different.
One of the great things about Warwick is the structure of the course. We are taught by systems – so GI, Cardiovascular, Musculoskeletal, etc.
We learn all about the anatomy (reinforced with some incredible plastinated specimens), the physiology, the pharmacology and anything else that’s relevant, which really helps to bring everything together. Warwick also uses an integrated approach for teaching. The majority of content is delivered through lectures, but we also have Case-Based Learning which allows us to see the clinical side of what we’re studying.
Warwick exposes medical students to the clinical setting quite early on. Within a few weeks of starting the course, we were learning how to take a history and carrying out different examinations.
During my Christmas break in first year, I also did some hospital work experience, which was quite different from the work experience I did when I was an A-Level student. I truly came to appreciate what was being said by the Doctors and Nurses and I was actually able to understand what the surgeons were doing – plus being allowed to scrub up to have a closer look was a bonus!
Definitely the workload. I won’t lie to you: Graduate Entry Medicine is hard work!
At the start of the course, everyone was surprised by the sheer volume of the content we were being taught, and how quickly we were progressing from one concept to another.
My friends and I usually spend our evenings chatting, sometimes playing a few games, or we might go out and get some food on campus. I am also a member of the medics hockey team. I’d definitely recommend joining societies and sports teams at university, as it’s a great way to meet other people.
GEM is definitely a course where you need to keep learning as you go along. It’s really important to stay on top of your work and keep revisiting what you’ve learned, but it’s also vital to find a balance, avoid burnout and enjoy yourself as well.
This keeps changing for me. When I first started, I was interested in going into Oncology, maybe even Paediatric Oncology – but more recently I’ve become very interested in infectious diseases.
I’m still only in first year, so I know that I’m probably going to keep changing my mind during my studies. After all, I went through at least eight different career paths in my head before settling on Medicine during school!
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