Getting started to study medicine as a second degree Overview Medicine is about helping people - treating illness, providing advice and reassurance, and seeing the effects of both ill health and good health from the patient's point of view. You have to examine the symptoms presented by a patient, and consider a range of possible diagnoses of their cause. You must test your diagnosis, decide on the best course of treatment, and monitor progress. This demands an enquiring mind, the capacity to acquire and maintain high levels of knowledge which have to be constantly up-to-date, and the ability to relate to people as individuals each with their own health needs. If you have that passion to improve people’s lives and the determination to reach the highest standards you will have a wide range of career opportunities. You can follow a path to one of many specialties, from working in a hospital as a surgeon to being based in the community as a GP. The training and support available to you in the NHS can help you get to the very top of your chosen career. Within the practice of medicine itself, there are over 60 different specialties; your medical training will give you the opportunity to discover which appeals to you most. You will find resources on this area in the Careers Resource Centre in section C. For more in depth information on this career go to www.prospects.ac.uk/links/occupations. How do I train? There are four types of course available to applicants who already have a degree. 1. Graduate entry programmes (GEPs) are designed specifically for people who have already done an undergraduate degree. The qualification is the same as that gained by taking the standard medical course but the course is usually over a shorter four-year period. The pros can include more interactive learning, more patient contact from an early stage and an NHS bursary (including tuition fees) from years two to four. The cons include fierce competition, shorter holidays and a more intense workload during the course. Competition for entry to these courses is very strong as only approximately half the institutions offering the standard medical degree offer 4 year courses. Entry requirements All medical schools, except Nottingham and St George’s, require at least a 2:1 at first degree. Many, but not all, institutions require that degree to be in biological/biomedical or life sciences. All but Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Southampton require applicants to sit UKCAT, BMAT or GMSAT. Check admissions procedures; some of these institutions are considering introducing a test in future years. Those courses which do not require applicants to sit a test often do require high passes in GCSE and A Levels (or equivalent) e.g. the University of Liverpool requires graduate entrants to have a combination of three A-levels including biology and chemistry and one AS-level, at a minimum of BBB(B). Some courses (including Liverpool) require applicants to be graduates when applying thereby enforcing a mandatory year off between graduation and commencing the MBChB. Ideally this year would be spent gaining relevant experience. It may be a useful period of gathering funds. 2. Standard medical degrees. These medical courses are designed primarily for school leavers; most medical schools now allocate a number of places for graduate applicants. There are a larger number of courses to choose from with 30 institutions offering standard medical degrees. These degrees last five or sometimes six years depending on the medical school. www.liv.ac.uk/careers The six-year courses are those which either include a ‘pre-medical’ year for those without traditional science A levels or those that formally include the opportunity to study an intercalated BSc degree as part of the course. Competition is strong as with graduate courses. Entry Requirements Most courses will look for at least a 2:1 in first degree. Degree subject is less likely to be an issue but relevant A levels will be sought. Almost all medical schools, (at writing all except Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol) require applicants to sit entrance test (UKCAT or GAMSAT). As for the GEP, Liverpool requires applicants to be graduates when applying. 3. Foundation courses. Some UK medical schools offer six-year programmes for applicants with non-science backgrounds. These courses usually either begin with one year of science-based teaching, after which students join the standard five-year programme at the medical school, or, spread the work of the normal degree over a longer period of time. These courses are usually designed to widen access to the medical profession and may be aimed at people from: a particular part of the country (e.g. Kings and East Anglia prioritise local applicants); less advantaged backgrounds (e.g. a social background which is traditionally under represented in the health sector); or applicants who do not have a scientific background. The University of Liverpool, in collaboration with Carmel College St Helens, offers a ‘Foundation to Health Studies’ programme. The programme is targeted at applications with significant appropriate workplace experience or with related vocational rather than traditional A Levels. Successful completion to the specified standard ensures automatic progression onto the medical degree. Entry Requirements Having more than one science A level or a degree in a scientific subject may make you ineligible for these courses. In contrast, some six-year courses (currently Southampton, Nottingham and Kings) do require science qualifications. Make sure you read through the criteria for each course carefully. 4. Access to Medicine Courses. Access courses are designed for those who do not possess the necessary qualifications for entry to medical school. Most medical schools will consider applications from students who complete these courses to a required standard. However, access courses do not usually guarantee entry to a medical degree programme and not all medical schools recognise all access courses. Check which courses are accepted by the universities you are interested in. Visit https://ava.qaa.ac.uk/SubSites/PublicSearch/search.aspx for more information on access courses available across the UK. Application for all degree courses is via UCAS. The closing date for UCAS applications is the 15 October each year. Visit UCAS www.ucas.ac.uk for details of how and where to apply. Choosing a course Your course preference will be influenced by a number of different factors. Consider the following: The number of places available on each five or four-year courses. Whether there are quotas for graduate entry to the five-year courses. The entry requirements and whether there are additional exam requirements e.g. GAMSAT or UKCAT, but note that entry requirements can change on an annual basis. The nature of the course, whether ‘traditional’ or ‘problem based’, for instance Liverpool or Glasgow are problem based courses whilst Sheffield is a mixture of both. The financial considerations. The Merseyside perspective Liverpool has a large and well established medical school and accepts both graduate and non-graduate applicants. For up to date information on academic entrance requirements for entry to the Liverpool programmes visit www.liv.ac.uk/sme/prospective/entry_mbchb.htm and read the University of Liverpool admissions policy www.liv.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/applying/Institutional_Policy.pdf. Appropriate candidates seeking entry on a second degree on either the four or five-year courses at Liverpool are all interviewed. Successful applicants will show a thoughtful, caring, compassionate approach to medicine, wide interests and a good record of achievement, demonstrate teamwork skills, leadership potential and strong commitment to their career. During the 15-minute structured interview, carried out by two interviewers, you will be assessed on your motivation and, especially on the four-year course, your academic ability to both benefit from and contribute to the course plus the tenacity to cope with five/six years of further intensive study plus your non-academic ‘soft’ skills. It is essential that your decision to undertake the degree in medicine be confirmed as a current decision, backed up by current and meaningful health care experience gained over a reasonable length of time. The University of Liverpool currently does not require candidates to sit any other examination. It relies solely on the UCAS application form and an interview. The University of Liverpool, in collaboration with Carmel College, St Helens, offers a ‘Foundation to Health Studies’ programme. The programme is targeted at applications with significant appropriate workplace experience or with related vocational rather than traditional A Levels. Successful completion to the specified standard ensures automatic progression onto the medical degree. Applicants who complete a recognised ‘Access to Medicine’ course with a distinction grade may be considered for entry on to the five-year medicine course. How to increase your chances of getting in Medical schools look for a range of things in their graduate recruits – including: Degree and other academic requirements: as detailed above and in individual course literature. Work experience: Different schools will look for different levels of work experience but you should get as much healthcare experience as possible before applying to medical school. Strong personal statement: Showing evidence of personal qualities required to be a good doctor, reflection on work experience, good motivation and strong personality but aware of your own limits, self promotion and a strong willingness to learn. In order to make your application a successful one you need to be able to: substantiate your reasons for choosing medicine as a career; evidence the necessary skills and qualities; demonstrate appropriate academic skills; have recent and relevant work experience.; show an awareness of training and CPD issues; and show an awareness of issues in healthcare, health ethics and the NHS. Med Schools Online www.medschoolsonline.co.uk is a good site to look at with details of how and when to apply, where to get experience and how to write a personal statement for medicine. The Guardian has a useful article on skills required for medicine www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/jul/08/students.highereducation. Key considerations Entrance tests Many medical schools (currently all but Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge and Southampton) require applicants to sit an entrance test in addition to submitting their UCAS application. The main tests are UKCAT and GAMSAT. The quickest way to find out about the tests is to go to the ’Before You Apply’ section of UCAS www.ucas.ac.uk. You should note the dates for registration and testing; these are often early. Both Oxford and Cambridge have their own application form and Warwick has an additional, supplementary application form. How can you prepare for the tests? You can do practice questions. The websites all carry information and you can order materials through UCAS. If sitting the GAMSAT, get your chemistry and biology up to scratch by doing an A level or through self study or through a personal tutor. You could consider a privately run preparatory course but this can be expensive. An example is www.gradmed.co.uk. Read a leaflet produced by the University of Warwick Careers Service which charts which schools use tests, prices and skills sought. www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/careers/findingajob/sector/healthcare/graduateentrymedicine/guide_for_studentsjan09.pdf Funding At the moment there are significant funding advantages for graduates living in England and Wales, to apply for a four-year course as the Department of Health (DoH) will pay tuition fees for years two, three and four and applicants may be entitled to a means tested bursary for those years of study, thus only the first-year of the course is fully self- funded. You can apply to the Student Loans Company for assistance with maintenance costs for the first-year of the course. Funding is changing for the year 2012/13 so need to check lasts situation with each medical school and the NHS website for 2011 and 2012 entry www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/details/Default.aspx?Id=557. Also note slightly different regulations regarding tuition fees apply to applicants living in Scotland and Northern Ireland who wish to study in England. You should enquire of the appropriate NHS Student Awards Unit for guidance. NHS guidance on financial support for students on degree courses in medicine www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/details/Default.aspx?Id=557 The BMA www.bma.org.uk publish a booklet ‘Finance for Medical Students’. Further information is also available in the Careers Resource Centre, filed in Section C of the occupational (yellow) files. Further information Key resources Med School Online www.medschoolsonline.co.uk - great starting point for all your research. Set up by graduate medical students to help new applicants through the process of applying to medical school. UCAS www.ucas.ac.uk Graduate entry code is A101 except Kings which is A102. The British Medical Association www.bma.org.uk has a guide called ‘Becoming a Doctor’ which can be found in the ‘Careers, education and training’ section. NHS student grant site www.nhsstudentgrants.co.uk So you want to be a doctor www.wanttobeadoctor.co.uk Professional bodies and other useful links NHS Careers information website www.nhscareers.nhs.uk with a helpline 0845 6060655. The Council for Heads of Medical Schools www.chms.ac.uk links to all the university medical school sites. General Medical Council website www.gmc-uk.org. UCAS website www.ucas.co.uk. University of Liverpool Faculty of Medicine website www.liv.ac.uk/FacultyMedicine. University of Liverpool School of Medical Education www.liv.ac.uk/sme . Carmel College for information re Year 0 Foundation Degree www.carmel.ac.uk. www.cardiff.ac.uk and then search ‘Curriculum 2000’ for summary of all medical school entrance requirements, last reviewed in 2004. Commercial medical career support website again with good links www.apply2medicine.co.uk. Student forums and magazines/journals www.medschoolsonline.co.uk – course guides, includes admission ratios, news section, sample personal statements and student forum. www.newmediamedicine.com - medical information website www.wanttobeadoctor.co.uk – Leeds University medical students’ site that is guide to admissions process for any university. www.admissionsforum.net . www.thestudentroom.co.uk – general information including medicine. www.medical-student.co.uk – medical student newspaper. www.studentdoctor.net – US student site. www.studentbmj.com – student focus medical articles/issues. www.bmj.bmjjournals.com – general medical information www.brightjournals.com – articles, quizzes and information on medical and allied health professions. www.lmssonline.co.uk - Liverpool medical students’ website. www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/jul/08/students.highereducation - useful article on what skills are required for medicine. For a list of websites that advertise graduate jobs in this career area visit: www.liv.ac.uk/careers/students/explore/occupations/health/medicine.htm The Careers & Employability Service Get in touch; ask questions, we’re here to help. We’re located on the first floor of the Student Services Centre, next to the Guild of Students. You can also find us in Careers Express in the courtyard of the Guild of Students. Call in, give us a call, drop us an email or visit our website if there’s anything else you need to know. Careers & Employability Service University of Liverpool Tel: 0151 794 4647 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.liv.ac.uk/careers Visit our website for our latest opening hours © University of Liverpool Careers & Employability Service, September 2011 This document is available in alternative formats on request. Please ask us for details. You are advised to check material facts. We try to ensure that information given is up-to-date but we are aware that information is subject to change. Any links are used to provide further information and are not intended to signify that we endorse such websites and/or their content.