Congratulations, you’re in the fortunate position of having to choose between your medical school offers!
There are lots of ways to decide, and everyone will have different preferences, so make sure you think about what would truly be best for you.
This blog will outline three of the biggest factors you should take into consideration when making your decision.
What’s the teaching style?
You probably already considered this when you were applying, but you may still have applied to medical schools with a mixture of teaching styles, due to other factors such as location or entry requirements.
If you have more than one offer, consider how they deliver their course. You will be studying for 5 years, so if it’s possible, choose the teaching style you will most enjoy.
Problem-based learning (PBL) is much more independent and will involve more group sessions. Think about whether you benefit more from lectures, or prefer to learn independently. Some really thrive with PBL and group work, but others just want their information provided in traditional lectures.
Look into factors such as anatomy teaching, and how early on students receive clinical exposure. Some medical schools will have several years of pre-clinical work, whilst others may incorporate clinical aspects from the very beginning. If possible, speak to students at that medical school, and get some feedback about how they’re finding the teaching.
What’s the size of the school?
The size of the medical school can make a big difference in the way the course is run. There are pros and cons to different sizes, and it’s all a matter of personal preference.
A large medical school will give you the opportunity to meet plenty of people and will offer a diverse range of well-established extra-curricular society activities. However, students may be sent far away for placements due to lack of availability in local hospitals. Some also may feel that they can be “lost in the system”, as there is less of a personal connection between the medical school and the individual students.
On the other hand, a small medical school can be a bit limiting with regards to meeting people. Of course, some people would rather work in smaller groups, so just think about what type of environment you would thrive in.
A perk of a small medical school is that there is a lot of individual attention paid to your well-being and development (a blessing and a curse, some would argue). Placements tend to be a bit closer to the university, with less overcrowding in hospitals.
What’s the location like?
Medical school is a long commitment, and most students will be moving away from home for university. Think about the place you would have to move to. Do you prefer big, busy cities, or small, quiet towns?
Consider what is important to you – is it shops that stay open late, or having lots of options for leisure activities? Perhaps you want to go somewhere near the countryside, or maybe you can’t think of anything worse than that?
Another consideration would be the distance from your family and home. Some are happy to get as far away as possible, but others feel terribly homesick.
Many people like being far away enough from home to be independent, but close enough to be able to easily visit. This may be difficult to imagine if you’ve never been away from home, but it is important as it can really affect your university experience.
So, if you’re in the position of choosing between your medical offers, don’t fret. You have some time before your deadline, so think about it carefully, and choose what you think will suit you the most.
This is more important than the “prestige” nature of the university, as ultimately, you will graduate with a medical degree that fulfills the General Medical Council requirements, and you will work as a doctor.