Okay so here goes, I have just been accepted onto a graduate entry medical course and upon checking out some of the other sites out there aimed at people wanting to get onto a fast track course, I felt they were a little negative to say the least. So here I am tentatively dipping my toe into blog-land, with the hope of possibly shedding a little light (and hope) as to how to go about applying and what you might expect.
Why Study Medicine?
I decided that medicine was the way to go close to the end of my PhD. I decided to do a PhD after doing an Honours degree in Immunology and unlike most people the thought of doing medicine hadn't really been big in my mind up until then. I wanted to be a scientist and cure the world that way. I went to Oxford to do my PhD having done my degree in Glasgow, and no not because I'm in anyway poncy but because the lab that offered me a studentship were one of the leaders in the field and that just so happened to be there. Having got near the end I was a bit fed up, fed up of feeling detached from the outside world and fed up with going home at night inconsolable because all my cells had died!!! I just felt so removed from the important things in life. I had also realised that despite the fact that my PhD was actually going pretty well I was unlikely to cure the world of anything as was starting to wonder what the point was. That was when I started the think about medicine; well I loved people, still loved medical science and wanted to do something worthwhile. So once I had comforted and reassured all the people who nearly died of shock (boyfriend, parents, supervisor) I started to think about applying - where to apply and how to go about it.
The uni’s I chose to apply to were, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Southampton. Yes, yes I know what you are thinking - Oxbridge and all the connotations that that conjures up! No, the reason I applied there was despite having some pretty big reservations when I first moved there, I had got used to the system in Oxford and didn’t feel at all intimidated by it. Also having gone to both of the open days they both seemed to aiming at creating ‘academic’ doctors, exactly what I saw myself being. Now if I am truly honest my first choice what Cambridge. After three years I was sick of Oxford (it isn’t a very big town) and my boyfriend already lived in Cambridge so that would make life easier for both of us. Anyway to cut a long story short both Oxford and Cambridge made me offers whereas Southampton and Bristol both rejected me without an interview. So there you go, Oxford and Cambridge are supposed to be the elite universities but in the end they were the only ones that wanted me!
Basically so long as you have the `grades` to get in (2:1 degree) it appears to be all down to the personal statement. Experience seems to be important, possibly different kinds of medical experience. I was fortunate because the field that I was working in was very `medicy` meaning I had a lot of medical contacts. I did weekends in A&E, did some GP shadowing, shadowed a renal consultant for the day (during which I passed out but that’s another story) so I had quite wide ranging experience. Like I say I was fortunate to have contacts but hospitals and GP surgeries expect people to contact them about experience so don’t be put off. As for the other things they are looking for, it is difficult to tell but the things I focused on where my commitment to medicine, the applicable skills I had and the fact that I wasn’t a boffin but a well rounded person with other interests. I guess it is important that your statement stands out in the pile from the other hundred so my advice is to try and avoid the contrived sounding ‘want to help people’ sort of stuff.
Then there were the interviews. No actually for Oxford first of all there was the entrance exam. Yes it is hard but you can’t study for it so don’t worry about it. It is mostly data interpretation and problem solving stuff but you will be massively short on time and the people I know that have managed to get in all took the same approach - plan your time and make sure you get to the end of the paper. Don’t spend ages mulling through one question, bash it out and get to the end. Cambridge also has an entrance exam but you don’t have to take it if you have the right qualifications. Anyway then there were the interviews. Cambridge was first and it was a complete b**ch! First of all it was at 8 in the morning (never my best time) and then they were mean and I was rubbish. Oxford was better possibly because I was better prepared and knew what to expect. The questions ranged from the expected, `why do you want to be a doctor`, to `what scientific breakthroughs have allowed stem cell therapy to be considered as a treatment to Alzheimer’s`!! It is difficult to know what they want as like I say I was rubbish in the Cambridge one, although I think one of the tings that might have saved me there was mentioning that I had taught medics at Oxford (one of the things I did from time to time when money got tight).
So that is the story so far. The gods smiled down on me and I got into Cambridge. I have since moved there and, having just passed my PhD viva, am working for the summer at an engineering company where I am paid to try and break bits of chemistry equipment. I start the course in October and, having got my Hep jags sorted out am now wading through the forms for the criminal records check that I have to do. I am also waiting to hear back from the LEA (Local Education Authority) about funding so hopefully I shall have something more to write very soon...........
If you found this page useful please click the +1 button below to tell Google that its a great page!
Please share this page with others, and leave a comment, we value all feedback!
Was this page useful? Do you have something to add? Do you disagree?
If your comments meet our guidelines then we will publish them (you do not need to register!)
Ttradesman - click here to join our network to receive leads from customers in your area
"Thank you for your blog. I found it quite interesting and has helped me in my decision process. Could you also write about how are you finding the course? Thanks"
"you can apply to both Oxford and Camrbidge if you are applying to the graduate entry medicine courst"
"how would you answer if they asked you " why not be a nurse instead of a doctor""
"Very useful reading through personal experience. "
"wat were your gcse results? everyone keeps giving different numbers about wats acceptable, to study medicine at cambridge"
"i went to Cambride for a trip (im in year 10) and the pupils said that you cant apply to Oxford and Cambridge, is this new? Also thanks, I really want to be a Doctor and im studying hard to get in to Cambridge."
"I thought it was impossible to apply to both Oxford and Cambridge... ?"
"This was really helpful for me and made me think applying for Cambridge is a good thing. I'm presently doing a BSc in Human Biology and have started wondering what on earth I'm going to do with it! I never really thought about medicine before because it was too much hard work or required too much responsibility but now I realise that's completely necessary to get anywhere in life. How did you make the final decision that medicine was right for you? It's at least 4yrs on top of what I would already have done but you did a PhD aswell so that's more for you and you still did it. Did you get funding in the end? I'm a bit worried about that as well but I live near Cambridge so I wouldn't have to worry about accomodation. "
"Is there any one to explain me how to gain access to study medicine in Cambridge? What I need to do? do u think guys that 3 A levels is gonna be enough>? What I really should do to be accept?"
"hello, I am wishing to apply to oxford and Cambridge too for a graduate program in medicine. Unlike you, who have extensive research background, I will graduate with a bachelor's of science specialising in forensic science-biology. I was hoping if you could tell me whether your colleagues mostly obtain a PhD degree or some of them have a bachelors? Thank you very much for your help."