Published on 29th July 2019 by laurenwade


If you don’t get the exact grades you need to get into medical school, your dreams won’t be completely dashed. I didn’t get the grades, but I’m studying Medicine at a top-ranking university. How, you may wonder? I completed a Foundation year at the University of Nottingham, and next year I will go on to study Medicine in Year 1.

Read on to find out what my Foundation year has been liked.

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What’s it like studying Medicine with a Foundation Year at the University of Nottingham?

The Foundation year at Nottingham takes place at the Royal Derby Hospital and has an average cohort of around 29 people per year.

On successful completion of the Foundation year, you move onto Year 1 Medicine at Nottingham. Although 29 people sounds quite small, compared to other medical courses, having such a small class meant that I quickly formed close friendships with all of them.

The course focuses on building strong foundations in the topics studied in Year 1, with a particular focus on biochemistry and human biology. We are assessed with a selection of written exams, multiple choice exams, coursework and practical labs.

One of the only downsides to the Foundation year is the travel. Unlike the rest of the medical students who are based at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, the Foundation course is taught at Royal Derby Hospital, which is approximately 40 minutes drive from the university campus.

Luckily, the university run free hopper buses every hour that drop us directly outside the hospital!

What are the advantages of doing a Foundation Year?

Despite not having the required A-level grades for straight entry Medicine, the Foundation year has enabled me to pursue my dream and study medicine at a top-ranking university.

It has also given me the opportunity to experience a year of medical school without having to juggle the academic pressure and fuller timetable that comes with later years.

Joining the medic societies has enabled me to become friends with medics from all year groups and learn new skills.

This past year has definitely boosted my confidence in both my theoretical and practical science skills, and I feel a lot more prepared to start Year 1 in September.

How does it differ from A-levels?

Although some of the material covered is similar to some A-level content, the depth and pace was more advanced and covered more relevant human biology (no more photosynthesis!)

Sometimes it was frustrating to not be able to learn clinical skills or do dissections like the Year 1 students, however I am very much looking forward to starting them in the next academic year!

Am I glad I did the Foundation Year?

Although I didn’t initially plan to do a Foundation year, this past year has been one of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life so far, and I’m proud to say I am a ‘graduate’ of the Foundation year programme.

Is the Foundation Year right for me?

If you don’t fulfil the entry requirements for direct Medicine entry, (find them here), don’t let that stop you from studying Medicine. You may be eligible to apply for the Foundation year course – if you don’t mind studying for an extra year, then this is definitely an option to consider.

No matter how you get into Medical School, remember that we have all got the same overall aim; to become a doctor!

Lots of Medical Schools now offer multiple pathways to Medicine – just make sure you do your research and find out which schools offer Foundation years here.

Words: Monisha Gupta

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