Applying to Medical School
The first step to becoming a surgeon is to get into medical school, where you’ll complete an undergraduate degree in medicine lasting five to six years. There are over 30 medical schools (attached to universities) throughout the UK with varying entry requirements. So how should you pick which medical schools to apply for?
It’s worth considering the following:
Do you want to spend the next five years (or more) there? Every medical school is different and you should choose one where you think you will be happy, not just with the course, but also with the area. It's worth considering the pros and cons of both campus-based and city universities.
The course itself
At most medical schools, you can also do an elective – spending several months overseas or in the UK working, studying medicine or researching. Many medical schools offer an Intercalated BSc as part of a 6-year course. This means you complete an additional, normally related, honours degree. It is a good chance to explore a topic that interests you and helps to develop your research and laboratory skills.
What is the style of teaching and assessment?
Some medical schools provide “traditional courses”, others provide “problem-based learning” courses. On a traditional course, the first two years are spent in lectures and the final years spent in clinical placements, being taught by doctors in small groups at a local hospital. The other type of medical course uses problem based learning, which are more integrated. You will be taught in small groups where you will be presented with a clinical scenario. This will trigger questions, which you and your group have to think about, research and discuss.
Will you get the required grades?
The application process
All applications are handled by the University and Colleges Application Service (UCAS). Their website provides a list of all medical degrees available in the UK, along with minimum entry requirements. It’s also advisable to look at individual medical schools' websites for more information.
You can apply to any medical degree that interests you - up to a maximum of four. Once you’ve decided where to apply, you’ll need to start writing your application form.
Doing a medical degree can be expensive, but there are a number of sources of support to help with this.
Bursaries: Most Medical Students qualify for a NHS bursary to cover fees in the 5th and if applicable 6th Year.
Student Loans: Everyone can apply for a loan from the Student Loans Company to cover tuition fees. On top of loans for fees, students can apply for a maintenance loan for living costs. Student loans from the government are means tested, depending on your family income. It is worth bearing in mind that, although medical school loans seem large you pay them back automatically from your salary when you start earning £15K; junior doctors starting salary is around £20K. If after 25 years you have any loan left to pay this is automatically written off by the government.
Grants: Depending on the result of your means testing and where you choose to study, you may also qualify for a grant, which you do not have to pay back. If you qualify for a grant you can only apply for the non-income assessed loan as well.
For more information on fees and help with budgeting at university we recommend looking at UNIAID's Student Calculator.