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I'm thinking of applying for medical school. Where do I start?

At medicine career and appliations events for 6th form/college students I have helped run, I have been asked this question on several occasions - both by students who are just starting to consider Medicine as a career, and those who feel they do not have appropriate support at their school or college regarding careers. Being in the latter category myself, I fully sympathise.

I advise students that the first thing to think about is whether they would like a career in medicine.  It is well known that applicants must have a good aptitude for science as well as good communication and people skills, but there is more to being a doctor, and I feel that students do have to be realistic about the demands of the profession. It is hard work, it is pressure-filled and may not renumerate them as much as other professional jobs, but it is a career that caries variety like no other.  Doctors have a lot of responsibilty and respect, and all of this leads us to have high job satisfaction levels, and students can as well if they are prepared to put in the hard work.

I would also add that many students feel that the science taught at medical school might be too hard for them.  I would reply that it isn't - the science is not much beyond A-level (especially to begin with) - I would state that the volume of knowledge needed is significantly larger than A-Levels and indeed many other undergraduate degrees.  Students at medical school tend to be supported well by both the school and by fellow students as well, often forming study groups (as I did myself).  Nevertheless, it is not enough to be clever at medical school, candidates must also be hard-working.

I would give students the wealth of my experience at medical school regarding this question - depending upon what they asked.  Put simply however, I would not trade my time at medical school for anything else.

Beyond this, I would advise students about the applications process itself, guiding them through different medical schools and types of courses, UCAS, personal statements, work experience, admissions tests (UKCAT and BMAT) and interview practice.

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