In the UK, there are a multitude of medical schools, each with unique selling points (and drawbacks!) This can make it hard to select just four, for your UCAS application. When it came to picking the universities I applied to, here are a few things I considered.
- Entrance exams: when it came to picking the universities I applied to, one thing that became immediately obvious, was the split between BMAT and UKCAT universities. I quickly realised that I wasn’t ready to add preparation for two entrance examinations, to my already very large workload. I decided to only take one, the BMAT, which quickly narrowed down my choices.
- Location: This isn’t the most important criterion, but I personally felt that I didn’t want to travel too far from home. I had always dreamed of living in London, and also liked that Cambridge wasn’t miles away (around two hour in a car), so focused on universities in these areas.
- Opportunity to intercalate: I had always like science, and loved the idea of being able to work towards a separate bachelors degree, while studying for medicine. I wanted to go to a university where, not only, was there the option to intercalate, but that most of the students, if not all, did. I wasn’t too keen on being left behind by the rest of my classmates, so chose universities where this was common.
- Traditional course: When I initially started looking at medical schools, I really liked the look of the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) course, as it seemed to be very hands on, and have a clinical focus, from the very beginning. However after speaking to my father (who is also a doctor), I quickly realised that, perhaps, a more traditional course, with basic science to begin with, followed by more clinical teaching, would suit me more. It’s important to consider the way that you learn, and the kind of doctor you want to be, particularly with regards to research, in order to work out which of these approaches, is right for you.
- Dissection: I decided very early on that I probably wanted to be a surgeon. Therefore, the focus anatomy teaching, particularly the opportunity to learn from dissection, as opposed to prosections, was very important to me. Again, this is something that very few universities offered, helping to narrow my choices.
- Where I felt most at home: This was the most important factor of deciding where I applied. Medicine is a long degree, so it’s important to pick a university that you can see yourself loving for a long time. This was the ultimate deciding point for me, and the reason that I chose to apply to only 3 universities. Make sure you go to open days, and meet as many students and lecturers, as you can, at the universities you’re considering.
These are just a few of things that helped me decided where I would apply. Hopefully they help you! If there are other points that you have considered, let me know in the comments below!