Why I chose to study medicine at university

medicine student at university

Why I chose to study medicine at university

Everyone has different reasons for wanting to study medicine – some people are born into families of doctors, some people seek a really rewarding career and for some it’s for more personal reasons. For me, it was quite simple really – I was always fairly bright at school with an aptitude for science, and I enjoyed chatting and getting to know people. When it came to choosing a career, I combined all of these things and medicine seemed to be the clear answer.

Why medicine at Leeds University?

Deciding which university to study at was a big decision for me, especially knowing that I was going to be there for five years! I made an exhaustive lists of pros and cons for all the possible and best medical schools and starting planning what felt like a tour of England for the open days.

To save you a little bit of time I’ll tell you why I chose Leeds. Leeds is a traditional course but it’s also very clinical – this means you’re not stuck in the lecture theatre all the time, and you get to go on placement once a week to a hospital/GP practice, even in first year. This is a really great way to get experience of a clinical setting.

Leeds medics can also intercalate, which is when you take a year out of studying medicine and get a BSc in a specialised subject of your choice. The course is one of the only five in the UK that still offers full body dissection, which is one of the best ways to learn anatomy. One of the things I love most about Leeds medicine is that you don’t have January exams, so whilst we do work hard, we do get to have a nice, relaxing and well-deserved Christmas break.

I didn’t just pick Leeds for the course though, the city itself is perfect for student living. It’s a compact city so that you can get around everywhere easily, either on foot, by bike or by bus, and it’s got a massive shopping centre and high street full of great shops and restaurants. Leeds is also well known for its great night life, which for a lot of people is a big part of their university experience, and it doesn’t disappoint.

What’s the workload like?

Medicine is a challenging course and there is a big workload. There are times when it feels like too much, but you get through it, and at the end of the day it’s what’s going to make you into a motivated, determined and successful doctor.

You’ll be happy to know that Leeds does what it can to make the course as manageable as possible, and this includes not timetabling us 9-5 every single day! In the first couple of years most of your time is spent in lecture theatres learning about the core body systems, diseases and medical science. This is nicely balanced out with about 3 group work sessions a week, anatomy lectures, one dissection session each week and plenty of self-directed learning time.

Leeds really focuses on ensuring that they produce doctors who are not only good at science, but who can also communicate well with their patients and demonstrate empathy and sympathy to give the best care possible. They understand that not everyone is born with these skills and to help us over the five years we cover modules on:

  • Campus to Clinic – learning about ethics, mental health and medical law
  • RESS – this is an opportunity to learn about research and work alongside professional researchers on your own projects
  • Individuals and populations – learning about public health and understanding others

For these subjects you have a few lectures, small group work sessions and an essay about once a term. It might sound like a lot, but if you can achieve the A level grades needed to get into medicine, you will be completely capable of doing well on the course.

How much choice do you get about what you study?

As I said earlier, a lot of your time as a Leeds medic is spent learning about the core body systems, diseases and medical science simply because you need to know all of it to qualify, but you do get some say in what you study.

Every so often you will be set a project to be completed or an essay which requires doing some research, and you are given a list of choices as to what these can be about. For example, this term I am completing a 2-week project about sign language, whereas some of my friends will be doing their projects with Leeds Ambulance service, and others are learning about sports medicine.

Are there any societies linked to medicine at Leeds?

Despite the university itself having hundreds of societies, the Leeds medical school has plenty of its own, with the biggest and best one probably being MedSoc.

MedSoc hosts loads of fun events throughout the year, including a welcome social, a huge fancy dress cocktail party, a Christmas party, a spring ball and a summer barbeque.

The other big society is the Medical Students’ Representative Council (MSRC) which is run by students to make sure everything at the medical school is as good as it can be. In my opinion, one of the best programmes set up by MSRC is the Medic Undergraduate Mentoring Scheme (MUMS). When you join Leeds, you are assigned medic parents who are in the year above, and medic siblings who are in your year group and this forms your MUMS medic family. Your family is a great way to get to know some other people on the course to get answers to any questions you have about pretty much anything.

As if all of that isn’t enough, the medical school has a bunch of its own sports societies, performing arts societies and academic societies which all host their own events and socials, and you’re free to join as many as you like. I’d never skied before coming to University, but now I’m part of the medics’ ski society and last year went on the trip to Alp D’huez which was amazing – especially because I never thought I’d get the opportunity to go!

I fell in love with Leeds University when I went on my open day and am still loving it! The course is well structured, social and interesting. Studying medicine anywhere will always be amazing, but personally I can’t imagine being anywhere other than Leeds.

Written by - Jane G.

Studying medicine at Leeds University