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Medical School in the UK: All You Need to Know

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How to become a medical doctor in the UK

Medicine and Surgery is one of the world’s most lucrative courses of study. By now, you must have heard that getting admission to study medicine and surgery anywhere in the world is usually too competitive. Well, let me re-echo it again to you: Medicine is one of the most competitive courses in the UK to gain entry to. You must know that MBBS is not one of those degrees you can acquire in one night. In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about medical school in the UK and how you can become a medical doctor in the UK.

 

Have you ever wondered why a large number of prospective students get rejected during the application process? This happens because of poor preparation before application. It is not because of the poor selection process. Well, this is exactly why you should continue reading this post. In this post, we provide a guide to everything you need to know about medical school in the UK.

MBBS is one of the most lucrative courses of study in the world. Getting admission to study medicine anywhere in the world is usually a competitive process. Even after getting in, you need absolute discipline and hard work to come out successful. Oh yes, you need long hours of study to succeed. This is not to scare you in any way, but to brace you up for the task ahead. The good news is that all your efforts would be worth it in the end. After all, being a doctor is one of the noblest and most rewarding professions in the world.

Before you embark on this journey, you need a proper guide. You shouldn’t just pack your bags and start heading to any medical school. You have to choose your medical school wisely. To make your mission a little easier and smoother, we’ll present to you all you need to know about your medical school journey in the UK.

How to become a medical doctor in the UK

Before you embark on the journey, note that:

  1. Higher education courses in medicine take considerably longer to complete than your typical three-year bachelor’s.
  2. You need really long hours of dedicated studies to succeed.
  3. When coupled with post-graduate study and specialist training, you may find yourself waiting up to 16 years before you become a doctor.
  4. Either as a student or a practicing doctor, the career is physically and psychologically demanding. You must be ready to give in the commitment it deserves.
  5. The career is all-consuming once you enter your workplace.

 Why Should you Consider going to Medical school in the UK?

Maybe you are a prospective medical student but are still contemplating whether you are making the right career choice. We are not going to explicitly give a yes or no answer to that. In this section, we are going to highlight some of the reasons you should consider pursuing this career path. More so, we will also tell you why you should get your medical training in the UK.

There are numerous reasons why you should consider studying medicine and surgery. For sake of space, we will only highlight a few of such reasons:

  • The job opportunities in the medical career are almost endless all over the world.
  • Medicine is always evolving, so it remains relevant endlessly no matter the human inputs, unlike other careers.
  • If you love working with people, then you should consider this career path.
  • If you have a passion for those who are in need of medical assistance, you should consider the career path.
  • By helping people, you are able to free them of their pain and make them happy. All the time. Wouldn’t that be nice?
  • It’s not only your title that will boost your popularity, but the respect that people will give you is major. Doctors and healthcare professionals are held up as heroes in society and the profession.
  • You will be cutting down on the shortage of doctors in the UK and providing professional care where it is needed.
  • MBBS is one of the highest paying degrees in the UK

Why Study MBBS in the UK?

There are a number of reasons why you should study medicine in the UK. Apart from the fun and excitement of studying in the UK, specifically, the medical training you receive sets the tone for how successful you will become in the medical profession. You should consider having your medical training in the UK for the following reasons:

  • The training system in the UK provides excellent quality instruction.
  • MBBS in the UK offers medical graduation accepted all over the world.
  • The high-quality education in the UK attracts medical aspirants from all the countries. So, you get to mix and learn with others.
  • The UK has an advanced and conducive educational environment for learning.
  • The UK is home to some world-class universities. Won’t you like to get trained in the top colleges and universities?

Different Careers Options in Medicine

As a medical graduate, there are a number of areas of specialty you can delve into. There are well over five dozen such options some of which include:

  • Anesthesia
  • Clinical oncology
  • Clinical radiology
  • Community sexual health and reproductive health
  • Emergency medicine
  • General practice
  • Intensive Care Medicine
  • Medicine
  • Obstetrics and gynaecology
  • Occupational medicine
  • Ophthalmology
  • Paediatrics
  • Pathology
  • Psychiatry
  • Public health
  • Surgery

How to Find the Right Medical School in the UK

One of the most important decisions you have to make early enough the moment you desire to study in the UK is the school you wish to study in. It is important to spend enough time to settle this particular matter before applying to any medical school in the UK.

There are over 40 institutions in the UK accredited by UK Primary Medical Qualifications (PMQs)  and approved by General Medical Council (GMC) to award medical degrees. With this, you see the need to make an extensive investigation to choose an institution you wish to enroll in.

Among the findings, you should make is the entry requirement for the institution. Generally, the entry requirement to medical school is always considerably higher than a shorter-term BSc or BA). In addition, inquire about the learning environment. Find out if the learning environment is best for you.

It’s also important to consider the location of the school to which you are applying. Seeing that you are going to be intensively learning for 6 years with hours of work, factor in whether or not you will feel comfortable living away from home for such a long time.

While you apply, you can choose up to four medical schools. This is, of course, due to the high competitiveness of getting into the medical school. While applying, you can make the fifth choice of another course like biomedical science, in case you are not able to get into medicine in any of the four schools you selected. Application is done via UCAS.

Top Medical schools in the UK

Some of the top medical schools in the UK you can apply to include:

 Course Types you will face

Most med-school course types in the UK fall under one of the three categories listed:

  • Traditional
  • Integrated
  • Problem-Based Learning – PBL

Traditional Courses

Within the first two years in medical school, students will focus on learning different science-based theory courses in medicine in a more traditional lecture setting. Traditional courses expose you to lots of lectures and courses covering five days every week. Most of your weekends might be taken too. As a medical student, you will be taught physiology, biochemistry, and anatomy in detail. These courses are foundational for your medical training.

Then, you will be exposed to clinical settings under the direction of a consultant. So activities you will have to complete include ward rounds and GP placements. Although there will be some tutorials, seminars, and lectures at this stage too, the course will mostly focus on working in practical hands-on situations.

 Integrated Courses

Integrated courses expose you to some clinical work experience from day one. It is now the joint-most joint-most popular course, together with the traditional courses. They are viewed as more adaptable to the shifting landscape of modern medicine. These courses both teach various aspects of scientific theory (in biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy) and also quickly acclimatize students to working life in clinical settings.

An integrated course yields long-term benefits as you gradually grow comfortable with clinical settings rather than being expected to be able to apply 2 years of knowledge readily in high-pressure settings. It teaches scientific theory in traditional courses by topic, rather than by discipline. This is now the recommended approach according to The General Medical Council.

Problem-Based Learning – PBL

These focus on small group work, peer-to-peer learning methods, and a high emphasis on education through problem-solving – and are available from a small number of universities. Problem Based Learning is a comparatively modern method of learning which focuses on solving problems using initiative and proactivity. it helps promote teamwork and acclimatizes students to the multidisciplinary, overlapping nature of the NHS.

PBL often helps students engage with the healthcare service rather than with the underlying scientific theory which underpins medicine.

 Entry Requirements to Medical School in the UK

Undergraduate

If you decide you want to study medicine, you will need to enroll at a medical school, which is often part of a university, but will have strong links to local hospitals and medical practices. To initially study at the undergraduate level, students will need AAA grades, with either Chemistry or Biology a requirement.

International students wishing to study Medicine at the undergraduate level need an IELTS score of no less than 6.5 across all four categories – reading, writing, speaking and listening. Most universities require an overall score of 7.0.

Foundation

Once undergraduate study of two years has been completed, medical students will then move on to Foundation training, lasting another two years. This brings together medical school graduates, other postgraduates, and various health care providers. Once completed, you will move into your specialist training path.

Specialty Training

Once you have completed four years of study, now the serious work begins! You need to work harder to ensure that you secure a place in your chosen area of specialty. Training here can last for anything up to seven years, and upon completion, you will be awarded a Certificate of Completion Training (CCT).

UK Clinical Aptitude Test

The two common tests required for admission into medical school in the UK are the  UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) and BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test). UCAT is an online test that tests different areas including cognitive abilities, attitudes, critical thinking, and logical reasoning.

The test is taken at your local test center, with each subtest in a multiple-choice format. You can find specimen questions on the UCAT website. The BMAT, however, is a written examination with an emphasis on mathematics, science, and logical thinking.

Personal Statement for Medicine

Your personal statement is a crucial part of the application process when wishing to study in the UK. Because of the competitive nature and a limited number of spaces at medical schools, it is vital that your medicine personal statement is of an extremely high standard if you must surmount this stiff competition. Keep in mind that it is not more about your grades, but about you as a person. So, you don’t have to rush it.

A personal statement is an opportunity for you to sell yourself to your prospective school, college, or training provider to illustrate your academic prowess and work experience alongside a genuine passion and fascination for the medical subjects you love. A personal statement can support your application if your exam results are slightly below your expectations or can enhance a strong set of grades for the best chance of acceptance. You are to achieve this in not more than 500 words.

While writing your personal statement, keep in mind that there are a number of professors who are going to read it. You’ll have to write to impress all of them as much as possible. Structure your personal statement very well and use a polite and persuasive tone. Remember that you are trying to show them why you should be selected ahead of the others.

Important topics to cover include:

  • What you wish to achieve as a doctor
  • Work experience at any GP or medical institution and what you achieved
  • Your commitment to medicine and the NHS
  • Your achievements academically
  • Why you will succeed in the course
  • Hobbies and interests

The key things that medical schools will be looking for are evidence of motivation, explorative work experience, and suitability for fitting into their learning environment. The best approach to take in this respect is to break your personal statement down into bits.

Attending an interview

If you’ve been invited for an interview, congratulations! This is indeed no small feat. You must be ready to push still further. It is a step closer to getting admission.

While preparing for the interview, you don’t need to panic. Compose yourself. Get the necessary preparatory materials, read wide, and gather as much information as possible.

They want to get a sense of who you are not just academically, but who you are as a person. So, be absolutely honest with them. You will stand out much more if you give a genuine answer.

After Admission, What Next?

Most offers to medical schools in the UK are conditional and are based on scores you are expected to achieve at A-level. This calls for hard work.

You will have to work really hard to achieve the results that are expected so you can take up your place at medical school.

Keep studying, focus on your exams and ask for help if you feel you need it. There’s no harm in asking your teachers, a family member, or friends for help if you feel you are struggling with your studies or just need someone to talk to.

Start Preparing for Life as a Medical Student

If you are moving out of home or shifting to another part of the country to attend medical school, use all the resources on offer from your university. Sort out your accommodation, attend any pre-course events, and get settled into your new life as a medical student.

It’s also worth looking through all the student finance options, do your research on bursaries, loans, and grants on offer that can help you out during your studies.

Most of all enjoy your success and look forward to starting your journey to becoming a doctor.

Duration of Study

After 5-6 years in medical school, you will take an internship, as well as spend up to 8 years in further training depending on your chosen specialty.

In the UK, taking a degree in medicine is not your final destination to become a recognized doctor. After that, you have to first take a two-year Foundation Course and move to Specialty and General Practice (GP) to finally be entitled as a doctor. In short, it may take to you 10 years or more to become a specialist or a General Practitioner.

Cost of Medical School in the UK

Domestic students in the UK pay an annual tuition fee for medicine of £9,250. International students pay way higher tuition fees that vary from university to university and even from year to year.

As an international student, you should keep a minimum of £10,000 in your account at the very beginning. In some medical programs that are on offer, tuition fees for international students may exceed the amount of £50,000 per year.

Buckingham University is the exception to the rule. It is a private medical school that charges £38,000 a year with no government subsidy.

How much does a Medical Doctor Earn in the UK?

On average, in the UK a medical professional earns over £40,000 per year. There is a wide range of salaries for medical employers based on their duties and responsibilities. An entry job in medicine pays over £20,000 per year, but following your first year on the job, your wage will increase. Some medical professionals may earn over £90,000 per year. For example, a health and medicine consultant earns £92,692 per year.

To see the salary structure of other workers in the UK, read our post on the top 10 highest paying jobs in the UK.

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