As my blog is nearly about to hit 15,000 views, I want to add some new features! One being the introduction of medical students from across the UK (and potentially the world!) onto the blog so that you can get varied accounts of the passion for medicine that people from different backgrounds share. So here is a good friend of mine who is about to enter his third year of medicine at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry…
- What made you want to do medicine?
As cliché as it may sound, I’ve always had a keen interest in science, the human body and helping people, and the application of physiological science within healthcare means Medicine really is the best career choice for me. I considered other healthcare careers, such as Nursing or Radiography, but I thought Medicine had the best balance of academics, patient-care, and career opportunities for me.
- How was the process of applying? (Any tips)
I found it very stressful, as I’m sure most other medics would agree! I was frightened of not getting into medical school, so originally began a degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Nottingham because I knew I’d meet the entry requirements. I regretted not applying for Medicine, and quit my course after a few months to pursue my real passion.
I found my choices of medical schools quite limited by the fact I only had Chemistry to AS level and not A2, so couldn’t strategically apply to particular schools based on my strengths (such as UKCAT score, amount of work experience, personal statement etc.) like others did. I also underestimated the amount of preparation necessary for interviews, so my first one was an absolute train wreck! My subsequent ones went much better, and I received an offer to study at Barts and The London!
- What is your medical school like?
Barts is both old-fashioned and modern, which is something I quite like. It’s based in the heart of Whitechapel in east London, a very diverse area with an equally diverse student and patient population. I like the fact it’s close enough to central London without being difficult to commute to from cheaper residential areas.
The school has great connections to various hospitals and practices throughout central/east London and beyond, even out into Essex to places like Southend, Chelmsford and even Colchester. I’m now starting third year (the beginning of my clinical years) so will get to experience a variety of hospital and community clinical settings throughout the rest of my degree. I feel well prepared for clinical years as our school has clinical placements in years 1 and 2 (one day a fortnight, then one day a week), clinical skills are taught in years 1 and 2, and we’re taught the clinical relevance and application of everything we learn.
I also enjoy my school’s mixture of teaching methods – we have PBLs, lectures, self-directed learning sessions, tutorials, laboratory practicals, dissections etc. so there really is something to suit everyone. On the whole, the student pastoral support is also pretty good; I’ve felt very well supported by the staff whenever I’ve had a personal or academic issue.
- Do you have any plans for the future?
Keep studying and try to swim not sink! I’ve got lots of extra-curricular activities for this year so hopefully I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew. I’m very involved in societies and the SU at my university, so hopefully I’ll learn a lot from these roles, gain valuable leadership experience, and progress to even bigger and better things in the years to come.
In terms of career paths, there are lots of areas of Medicine I’m interested in, but in particular are Obs and Gynae, Emergency Medicine, Surgery, and Acute Medicine. I’m trying to gain lots of relevant experience for future training applications, such as attending conferences/events, and hopefully that will pay off!
- Any last comments/tips for future medical students?
If you’re planning to apply, try and be as organised as possible. Do your research, think about which universities/medical schools you’d like to study at and why, play to your strengths (tactical applications based on UKCAT/work experience etc.), and prepare for your interviews. However, amidst all of this, don’t forget why you want to study Medicine in the first place. Be passionate! It’s a difficult journey but you’ll enjoy every (or almost every) moment of it.
Feel free to contact him if you have any queries about applying to Barts or medicine!