A medicine degree is essentially your path to becoming a doctor – whether you want to be working in a local practice or you hope to one day be carrying out complex operations – and it involves the study of everything from human anatomy to the application of a wide range of different treatments.
Medicine is obviously a hugely important subject, as it plays a key role in the development of health within society. As well as curing the sick and preventing diseases, medicine is also responsible for amazing scientific discoveries, and the constant advancement of different treatment methods.
What A-Levels Do You Need to Study Medicine?
Medicine is a tough one – possibly the toughest – to get on to. The entry standards are very high, with most universities requiring you to have AAA at A-Level or AB at Scottish Advanced Higher.
requires AAA for their University of East Anglia , whereas Medicine MB BS requires A*AA for their Queen Mary, UoL . Medicine MB BS
These grades will most often need to be in Chemistry and Biology/Human Biology – and must include a pass in the practical element - and a third must come from an academic subject (General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted subjects). You should check
for specific entry requirements. individual course pages
Top Tips to Make Your Application Stand Out
What Are Your Study Options?
Your typical degree in medicine will last for five years instead of the standard three (a medical degree at Oxford will last for six) and contact hours will be significantly higher than other types of degree (up around the 25-30 hours per week mark).
Although that might seem intense, lecturers want to make sure you’re as well-trained as possible before you’re unleashed on the public (something you’ll almost certainly be grateful of if you’re ever under the knife yourself).
Courses tend to involve an even mix of theoretical, lecture- and lab-based learning, and clinical placements; you’ll usually start off learning the ropes in your first couple of years before moving into placements (shadowing doctors on the job) for the second half of your degree.
Although medicine courses are traditionally quite tough to get on to, it is also possible to get on to a foundation course, if you don’t have quite the right A-Levels. This basically means your degree will last for an extra year, and the first year will be spent catching you up on the things you missed at A-Level.
Why Study Health & Medicine?
Here’s a list of all the serious and not-so-serious reasons why you should study a Medicine degree:
1. The Money Ain’t Bad
Obviously money shouldn't be the deciding reason to study something, and isn't for most people, but it definitely helps.
Trainee doctors' basic starting salary in their first foundation year is £27,146. And then it jumps to £31,422 in the second year. For those in specialist training the basic salary is anywhere between £37,191 and £47,132.
More senior consultants can earn a basic salary of up to £105,042 whilst GPs earn upwards of £57,655. That isn't a bad wage – let's be honest, it's really good – for doing something that you hopefully enjoy. (Source:
) Health Careers
You might think that with studying medicine, you become a doctor and that's that. But after two years of study and two years of practical foundation training, you can choose a specialist area.
Medicine itself is an umbrella term for a long list of specialist areas like cardiology, dermatology and neurology too. In fact, there are
including psychiatry, radiology, surgery and anaesthesia. Basically there really is something for everyone when studying medicine. over 60 areas of specialism
Samantha James who studied at
, says: Cardiff University "Every week you learn about a different speciality and can see yourself doing it. It's very hard to not be fickle because it's all so interesting and diverse. I know that I could never get bored doing medicine because the patients will be different and medicine is constantly evolving."
There is plenty of opportunity after graduation, too. You could end up working in a GP surgery, a hospital, at an institute of science, in public health care or somewhere else entirely.
Until humans stop getting ill or into accidents, we will always need medical roles. Because of this, most medicine students are in work within six months of graduation. In fact, according to the latest HESA Employment of Leavers data, only 0.3% of medicine graduates are unemployed six months after finishing their degree.
4. Balance Between Theoretical and Practical Learning
It should come as no surprise that there’s a hefty amount of work to do for a medicine degree: people's lives will be in your hands, after all. But for those who dread hundreds of essays and reading lists longer than most toddlers' Christmas lists, a large chunk of a medicine degree is actually work placements.
The placements are normally done on university campus hospitals, and will expose you to the different available specialities, as well as giving you the opportunity to interact with patients.
5. Life Changing Career
How many people can come home after a long day at work and know they've really changed someone's life? They might have even saved somebody's life. A career in medicine gives you the chance to make a difference in society, whether that be in hospital operating or in a lab working on new remedies and vaccinations.
"Medicine really is an absolute privilege. To be allowed into someone's life and to be trusted by someone is really special and you do feel like you can make a change. You are in a special position where you can make a difference."
People who work in medicine are a hugely important part of society, and the respect that comes along with the profession may be a reason for you to study medicine.
Plus, if ever there’s a situation where someone’s feeling faint, you’ll be able to intervene – you’ll say, ‘excuse me, I’m a doctor’ and the crowd will part – and everyone will think you’re a hero.
After Your Degree
The majority of medicine graduates end up working for the NHS and can eventually go on to specialise in anything from radiology to brain surgery. You could also go into psychiatry or stay on at university and go into the field of biomedical research.
Q & A with a Medicine student
Charlotte Hayden studied a Medicine MBChB at the Medical School. We caught up with her during her final year of study... University of Leicester's
What have you enjoyed the most about your course?
The integrated nature of the curriculum, which helps form links between organ systems, basic sciences and clinical practice. I’ve also enjoyed having the option to pursue other areas of interest through SSCs and intercalation – I’m currently studying extra units in Health Sciences.
What key modules did you study in the first year?
Biological molecules, genetics, mechanisms of disease (pathology), membranes and receptors (cellular biology), metabolism (biochemistry), tissues of the body (histology), health and disease in populations (epidemiology, basic statistics, public health), musculoskeletal system (anatomy), cardiovascular system (basic physiology), health in the community and inter-professional education.
What are you hoping to do after you’ve graduated?
I’m currently undecided, but am considering careers in hospital medicine, as a GP or in anaesthetics. Either way, I have plenty of time to make up my mind, since medicine degrees are so long!
How has the course helped you achieve your ambitions so far?
The course has been very varied and allowed for me to get involved with many projects along the way to test and further my interest in different areas. There is good communication of further opportunities such as support to attend conferences, present projects at events etc, and many opportunities to get involved with extracurricular activities too.
Student Story: How I Applied to Study Medicine In One Month
Amna Hussain went from wanting to be a secondary school teacher to wanting to be a doctor, with only one month left to go before the 15th October UCAS deadline…
Deciding on the career that’s best for you can be an overwhelming and, at times, confusing decision to make. After all, it’s going to affect your whole life and, with little experience of what jobs in different areas are actually like, you may find yourself torn between two choices, or totally baffled or, if you’re like me, a last-minute mind-changer. And I’m here to tell you that that’s okay!
Here are my top tips for getting a strong medical application in quickly, based on my own experience:
STEP 1 - Decide and Commit
Once I realised that YES, I want to be working in hospitals looking after unwell human beings for the rest of my life, I committed to it and made sure I was working towards that goal every day. After all, I only had four weeks to go and had to make the most of it and use my time effectively. Being a last-minute mind-changer means you need focus, determination and faith in yourself.
STEP 2 - UKCAT
Prioritise this as it requires registration, preparation, practice and has a closing date! I gave myself two weeks to prepare for the UKCAT and registered my exam date for late September.
During those two weeks, I prepared every day, using all practice papers and question banks I had available to me and dividing my time between untimed and timed practice. But remember to not overwork yourself! You do not want to be exhausted on test day. My revision plan consisted of half-days of preparation, with the rest of my time completely UKCAT-free.
STEP 3: Personal Statement
This goes alongside Step 2, not after!
is a long, arduous process and needs to be on-going alongside all other preparation. Thankfully my personal statement didn’t need massive changes as I had prepared a statement for Biomedical Sciences, the plan being to do a science-based degree of interest, followed by a PGCE teaching qualification. Personal statement writing
Re-use what you can, adapt what you’ve already written, and add points that are more relevant to med school. Let your personal statement be an honest and accurate reflection of why you want to study Medicine and why they should pick you.
STEP 4: BMAT
This is where my plan didn’t work. As the exam was not until November, I left preparation too late. Bottom line, whilst two weeks preparation can be sufficient for the UKCAT if you work hard, for the BMAT it just didn’t seem to cut it. Being a more content-based exam and designed to be more academically-challenging, it needs more preparation time. I suggest at least a month or more of revision and practice!
Also note: BMAT now have a test-sitting available in September which most universities that accept the November BMAT Test also accept.
So, is it possible to apply to study Medicine with only a month to go? YES. Was I successful? Yes – I went on to study Medicine at
, BARTS Medical School. Can you do it too? Absolutely yes. Good Luck! Queen Mary University
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