Shadowing a DoctorJanuary 28, 2015
Nowadays, many people are deciding to go into medicine following a degree. Whether it be that they didn’t get in the first time, so decided to do a degree in a related subject first, or making a career change later in life, it is becoming a more popular route into the career.
If you choose to do this, there are 2 options you have: you could apply to a typical 5 year course, or an accelerated graduate entry course lasting 4 years. There are pros and cons to either option, and what might be right for one may not be right for another.
If choosing to apply for a 5 year course, there are significant financial implications, in that you will have to pay the tuition fees for years 1-4 yourself, with no help from student finance. An NHS bursary will pay your fees in year 5. You can however get some help from student finance in years 1-4 for living costs. If applying for for graduate entry courses you are entitled to some financial help from student finance. In year 1, you will have to pay £3,375, with the rest of the tuition fee being paid by a loan. In years 2 to 4, an NHS bursary will pay £3,375 towards the fees, and the rest again being paid by a loan. Therefore, the difference between the 2 courses can be the difference of being £3,375 or £36,000 out of pocket.
Competition to both courses is fierce. Some say that graduate courses are more competitive, because there are fewer places (Warwick has the biggest intake of graduate medical schools, with 177 places, yet had nearly 2000 applicants for 2015 entry). However, if applying to a 5 year course, you will also be competing with all school leaving applicants for a place.
Most medical schools ask for a degree with a minimum 2:1 classification. Some medical schools specify that your degree is related to a science or health related subject. Some also ask for specific requirements; Leicester for instance asks for at least a year’s paid work experience in a caring role. Similarly, Universities differ on which admissions test they require. Some use the UKCAT, the scores from which each university uses differently. It tests your verbal, numerical and abstract reasoning, decision analysis and situational judgment. Others require the GAMSAT, a 6 hour exam that tests your reasoning in the humanities and social sciences, essay writing and communication skills, and reasoning in the physical sciences. A score of 55 in each section is usually required as a minimum. Universities however will set a baseline score depending upon average results, which will vary every year. Finally the BMAT tests you on aptitude skills in problem solving and data analysis, scientific knowledge and a writing test to assess the ability to communicate ideas. All three tests require preparation, and which test you take ultimately depends upon which universities you wish to apply to.
If you decide to apply to medicine as a graduate, it is critical that you do your research, and find out which route is best for you. Be sure to consider your choices carefully. Although it is a rigorous application process, many people are successful and go on to enjoy a fulfilling career in medicine.