Shadowing a DoctorAugust 16, 2012
The requirements for medical school vary depending on the school and the type of course a student is intending to study. Generally, medical schools offer bachelor degrees in medicine and surgery, which are called either: MBBS, MBBS/BSc, MBChB, MBBCh or BMBS. However, all these medical degrees are normally referred to as just an MB, and all will qualify a medical graduate to become a doctor.
Different medical schools have different requirements for entry. However, in the UK, all medical schools offer the same quality of education and no single university is classed as being any better than any other is. Usually, the more difficult schools to get places at are those with a smaller capacity, or those located in areas such as London, where many people prefer to study.
All medical schools require some form of formal qualification. The most traditional route into medical school is for students to apply for entry during their A-levels. Most medical schools expect at least one A-level to be in a science, typically chemistry, while some schools insist on both chemistry and biology. Grade requirements can vary from medical school to medical school, but usually at least one A is required; with other grades no lower than a B. Some medical schools even insist on three A grades, especially from the most sought after universities such as Cambridge. However, a few medical schools do except students with lower grades or those without an A-level in science, but these usually involve a student having to complete a foundation year before the normal degree programme.
Not all students go the A-level route. Mature students who have taken part in an Access course or other form of further education are often accepted into medical school. These students can bring more life experience and work-related skills that are just as relevant to the work as a doctor, as formal academic qualifications.
Formal qualifications are not the only prerequisite for securing a place in medical school. Most courses require candidates to have completed some form of medical work experience. This can take the shape of voluntary work in a medical setting, a formal work placement, gap year medical work abroad, or even paid work such as working part time as a porter. This is because medical degrees are long and arduous and require strict discipline and dedication to complete, so candidates that have shown an interest or passion for the profession are more likely to succeed in getting a place than those that have not.
Interview and exams
Nearly all medical schools expect a candidate to sit a formal interview. This is usually to find out if a student has the desired passion and commitment for a career in medicine. No medical school wants to see candidates drop out before completion or decide after graduation that they no longer wish to work in medicine. Health services invest a lot of funding to people’s medical education, so expect to see a return on this investment. Some schools even make candidates sit a formal exam, normally the UKCAT (The UK Clinical Aptitude Test) or the BMAT (The Bio-Medical Admissions Test). Taking these tests is usually dependent on the type of medical degree a candidate is taking.