University Foundation Programme – UFP

How to get into Medicine

Dr Dani Diaper

Feb 21,2021

Getting into medical school is hard work… it requires all the skills you will need to be a successful doctor, the application process is a chance to start developing these skills early on!


Before you start applying to medical school

You need to be absolutely sure that a career in medicine is what you want. How do you do that?

1. Read books and articles

There are many books out there written by experienced doctors – some are serious, others can be quite funny. They will help to give you an insight into life on the hospital ward. Our medicine department recommends the following reading:

  • This is going to hurt by Adam Kay
  • Do no harm by Henry Marsh
  • Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
  • The Other Side by Kate Granger
  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  • Articles on the BMJ Student website

2. Speak to medics

If you know any medicine students, have a chat with them. Ask what they wish they’d known before they started studying! There are several online forums that you can visit where you can ask medicine students and newly qualified doctors about their studies and careers.

3. Get work experience

The best way to find out if a career in medicine is for you is to get some hands-on experience. It’s unlikely that you’ll be given a scalpel and asked to sit in on surgery, but to be honest, the best way to find out if you have what it takes is to connect with people who need help. Volunteering at a care home or with a charity working with the elderly is a great way to experience truly caring for people and showing your commitment to this career.

4. Reflect on your experiences

Any volunteering work that you do, be sure to write a ‘reflection journal’. In this diary, make a note of what happened, your role, how the situation affected others, how you felt, and how you would approach the situation next time. This is great preparation for a life in medicine.


Applying to medical schools

Once you are certain that you want to further your studies and take the steps towards medicine, you need to start preparing for the application process.

Depending on whether you’re an international (including EU) student or a home student, some medical schools accept application through UCAS, while others allow a direct application.

What’s the difference? Mostly the timescale.

The UCAS deadline for medicine applications is mid-October, whereas direct applications mean you apply directly to the medical school and you have a little longer, sometimes up until February or March.

It can be daunting facing these different application routes. Don’t worry – here on the UFP medicine foundation we have highly experienced staff who can help with every step of your application process


So what kind of preparation do you need to do?

Visit the websites of the different medical schools that you’re interested in. Find out about their teaching methods, their facilities and student support. You may also find that some medical schools require an entrance exam, this may be the UCAT or BMAT examination. Check to see when these entrance exams are held and enrol in good time.

Not all medical schools need you to sit an entrance exam. Some universities, such as Brunel Medical School, University of Central Lancashire, and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, prefer to assess students on their personal statement and interview performance.

medicine foundation year UFP

Personal statement

During the application process, you will send your personal statement to medical schools. The university admissions team will want to know all about you. They want to find out about your motivation for studying medicine… why do you want to be a doctor? They will also want to make sure you understand the role of a medic… the highs and the lows!

The personal statement that you write when applying for a medicine degree will need to be different from a personal statement for other types of degrees (such as a BSc for example). Your medical personal statement should show off your skills and attributes and highlight the research, work experience or volunteering that you have done.

This tends to be something that students find quite tricky, especially if English is a second language, which is why we have a team of staff on hand to help you write a strong statement.


Preparing for medical school interviews

Following your application, you may get called for interview. Different medical schools have different styles of interview.

Some carry out MMIs – multiple mini interviews. This is where you have around 8 short interviews (about 10mins each) within 2hrs – each short interview tests your skills in different areas (such as communication or team work), or explores your motivation for wanting to be a doctor, or examines your ethical understand of different situations.

Other medical schools may have a more traditional panel interview with members of staff. But they will want to know the same kinds of things… what are the main reasons for you wanting to become a doctor? Do you know what this career path entails?

Either way, we’ve got you covered. The staff on the UFP Medicine Pathway will help prepare you for these kinds of questions and give you mock interviews so that when it comes to the real thing… you’ll be at your best!

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