Unsure of how to go about choosing a medical school? This blog gives you our top tips on key factors in choosing a medical school, from checking entry requirements to visiting the university.
This may seem obvious, but be sure to be completely familiar with all the university entry requirements. The hardest part is usually getting through to the interview stage, so maximise your changes by focusing on the areas that each university prioritises – this kind of information is usually available on their websites.
Another key thing to focus on is taking the UKCAT and/or BMAT. You can use TMP’s Medical School Comparison Tool to check which schools use which entrance exam. Most people choose to take the UKCAT in the summer – and you can now take the BMAT in September before you submit your application. As a result, you can now find out both scores before making your application, so this may hugely influence the schools you choose to apply to!
Think about the teaching system that suits you best. Traditional courses tend to train their students to become excellent researchers, and so their curriculum is science-heavy with no clinical exposure in your first three years of study.
You may, on the other hand, wish to learn theory and practice in parallel, in which case a more integrated or problem-based learning curriculum would be more suitable. If you have previously completed an undergraduate degree, you will feel more familiar with a more lecture-based curriculum. Whatever the case, make sure you fulfil the university criteria before you set your heart on any university in particular!
You are choosing what will be your home for the next five or six years, so make sure you visit the universities before applying. If you have more than one offer, visit again. You might find it useful to read our blogs on:
Speak to current medical students and ask about their experience – they will give you a more realistic picture of what being a medical student in their university is like. Ask them about accommodation and which areas are most popular or more practical to live in (living in the city centre, for example, may sound like a good idea but if your lectures are at the opposite side of town you may wish to reconsider).
Find out which hospitals they go for their placements – many students are unaware of the fact that they will be commuting to different hospitals during their clinical years, so it is always helpful to know this in advance.
Practicalities such as commuting times and finances can massively influence your decision. This is particularly important if you are in the lucky position of holding more than one offer.
Consider the living cost of each city and whether you would be able to commute from home. Look into scholarships and check whether the medical school offers any travel bursaries or a university laptop/tablet. Finally, there is a chance you may not make your first or second choice, so have realistic backups and picture yourself in each one of the four universities you will be applying to.
Words: Natalia Kyrtata
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