Medicine is a challenging career, but the two most important things you must have to succeed are an enquiring mind and the ability to relate to people as individuals, each with their own health needs. Very few areas of work can match the variety of medicine – it will confront you with something new every day. The profession is also concerned with integrity and is committed to uphold a number of timeless values.

The competition to get into medical school is fierce! There are over 10 applicants for each available place. Make note of these key facts:

  • You apply through UCAS early (by 15th October)
  • You should choose up to four medicine courses (using your fifth choice as a backup)
  • You may have to sit the appropriate admissions test for your chosen university/universities (such as the BMAT and UKCAT)

Admission Tests

The BMAT and UKCAT are the main ones. They are special scientific and reasoning tests designed to measure your suitability to study medicine or veterinary science at university.

BMAT: Two multiple choice sections and one essay question from a choice of four. Your ability to apply scientific knowledge from school science and maths up to GCSE level will be tested.

UKCAT: No knowledge-based questions at all. This test is split into four sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, abstract reasoning and decision analysis.

It’s important to remember that both your BMAT result and UKCAT score are only one part of your application. Although you might find out your UKCAT score before you apply to university, please don’t let this affect your choices too much – the university will still be looking at other parts of your application.

Similarly, don’t apply to a medical or dental school just because they don’t require the BMAT or UKCAT; there are far more important considerations to take into account.

After graduation from medical school, doctors undertake clinical apprenticeships which start at the foundation house officer grade and continue until you become a consultant or a GP.

There are over 60 different specialities as a doctor, all of which are different. For example community-based doctors like GPs have daily face-to-face contact with patients, while other doctors might focus on scientific research that involves less patient contact. Your medical training will give you the opportunity to discover which appeals to you most and can involve studying abroad.

You could work for the NHS, the armed forces, the Home Office, as a prison doctor, and many others.

Alternative Routes into Medicine

Graduate Entry Programme (GEP): 4-year qualification completed after graduating with a scientific degree. If you gain a 2.1 or higher in a subject such as Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry and Natural Sciences, then you would be eligible to apply for the GEP.

Alternative careers in healthcare: Clinical Psychologist, Healthcare Scientist, Anaesthetist, Nurse, Optometrist, Physiotherapist, Pharmacist, Radiographer, Dental Health, Healthcare Scientist and many more!

Retaking & Reapplying. Have your universities increased their standard offer since last year? When reapplying, look back over your UCAS form and personal statement and look for ways to improve your application. The universities will want to know what you have done in your year out to make yourself a more attractive candidate. Maybe you could combine your year out with a part-time job within the healthcare sector.

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