|Publisher:||Bpp Learning Media Ltd (Medical)|
|Edition description:||Second Edition|
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Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM)
A Step-by-Step Guide to Winning a Place at Medical School
By Graham Blackman, Matt Green
BPP University School of HealthCopyright © 2016 BPP Learning Media Ltd
All rights reserved.
Medicine is the science and practice of diagnosing, treating and preventing disease and has existed for thousands of years. Since those early days, Medicine has progressed at an astonishing rate and many millions have benefited from its advances – from the development of effective pain relief to the introduction of vaccines. Medicine can be an extremely rewarding career and combined with a huge range of opportunities to practise, research and teach Medicine, it is not surprising that it continues to be one of the most competitive professions to enter.
To become a doctor, the first rung on the ladder is to attain a medical degree, which provides the necessary qualification to pursue a career in either Medicine or Surgery. There are various types of degree courses in Medicine and your eligibility to apply for these courses will depend on your particular academic background. This introductory chapter provides a short background to Graduate Entry Medicine and what graduate students bring to Medicine. The chapter then discusses some of the major considerations for applicants to Graduate Entry Medicine, as well as outlining the stages of the application process.
What is Graduate Entry Medicine?
Graduate Entry Medicine, also referred to as Fast-track, Accelerated or Professional Entry Medicine, is a relatively recent development in the UK. It offers graduates in the Sciences, Humanities and Arts the opportunity to complete a medical degree in four years, rather than the five or six years of a standard medical degree. The introduction of the course has created an opening for many individuals who would otherwise not consider studying Medicine as a graduate. This includes individuals who were unsuccessful in applying to study Medicine as a school leaver, as well as those who only considered Medicine as a career option during or after their first degree.
Although the course offers a fantastic way into Medicine for many individuals, there are a number of hurdles to be negotiated before you are able to call yourself a doctor. The condensed nature of the course means that it is, by definition, more challenging than a standard medical degree. Also, demand for places on the course is extremely high and, as a consequence, many strong applicants are turned away each year. However, for the well-organised applicant, with the right academic and personal attributes – do not despair! Every year, many hundreds of applicants succeed in being awarded places on Graduate Entry Medicine courses and take their first step towards becoming a doctor. There are no guaranteed methods to securing a place on a Graduate Entry Medicine course, but undoubtedly, thorough preparation is vital to producing your strongest possible application.
Background to Graduate Entry Medicine
There is a long tradition of graduates returning to study Medicine as a second degree, with traditionally around 10 to 15% of Undergraduate Medicine courses consisting of graduates. For a long time, this was the only route into the profession for graduates; however, this changed with the introduction of Graduate Entry Medicine in 2000. Two factors were particularly instrumental in the development of Graduate Entry Medicine in the UK. One was the predicted shortfall in the number of newly qualified doctors graduating from UK medical schools as the demand for doctors working in the National Health Service (NHS) increased. The other was the drive to increase the diversity of new doctors, as it had long been recognised that the intake of medical schools tended to be over-represented by students from more affluent backgrounds (Department of Health, 1997).
From the small number of medical schools initially offering the course, there are now 13 Graduate Entry Medicine courses in the UK. All of the courses are based in England, with the exception of Swansea Medical School in Wales. Currently, 11% of all medical students are enrolled on Graduate Entry Medicine courses and while there is no indication that Undergraduate Medicine is to be phased out, the proportion of medical students on graduate entry courses is likely to expand.
What graduates bring to Medicine
Graduates differ from undergraduates studying Medicine in a number of important ways. Perhaps the most notable quality that graduates bring is additional life experience gained through their previous degree, and in some cases previous careers. This generally equips graduates with a more realistic perception of what a career in Medicine entails and greater confidence that it is the right career for them. This can often manifest itself as graduate students appearing more focused and enthusiastic than their undergraduate counterparts.
As previously mentioned, graduate entry students tend to come from a more diverse background than their undergraduate colleagues. The age at which graduates start Medicine varies widely, with some starting in their early 20s soon after finishing their first degree, and others starting in their 30s (or even 40s) having pursued a different career. Graduates' academic backgrounds also vary widely, with some medical schools accepting graduates with any prior degree. These factors combine to create an eclectic mix of individuals with a far greater range of life experiences than a typical undergraduate cohort.
Finally, graduates bring with them a specific knowledge base, or skill set, that can be particularly helpful towards a medical degree. For example, graduates in the biological sciences will have a strong basis in physiology and pathology, and this acts as a foundation on which to add the clinical elements of Medicine. Applicants who have studied one of the allied medical specialties, such as Nursing and Physiotherapy, will have extensive clinical experience of different medical conditions. In a different but equally valuable way, graduates with a background in the Humanities and Arts will have valuable skills in critical appraisal that are crucial in the current age of evidence-based Medicine.
Considerations as a graduate
As a graduate, the decision to study Medicine can be more complex than as a school leaver. For example, you are more likely to be financially independent and therefore not have the support of your family for the duration of your degree. A significant proportion of applicants will have a partner or dependants, which adds a further level of complexity. For those who have worked for several years, the practicalities of becoming a student again should not be discounted; for example, you may no longer be able to afford some of the luxuries you have become accustomed to.
Another unique consideration for graduates is deciding whether to apply for Graduate Entry Medicine or the standard five-year course. There are a number of factors to consider, such as the greater time commitment on the standard course and the greater intensity and competitiveness on the graduate entry course. Another key consideration is the financial outlay involved in undertaking the two courses – an issue that has become particularly relevant since the rise in tuition fees in 2012.
Once this decision has been made, the applicant must then decide which medical schools to apply to. Each medical school has its own entry requirements and selection processes, making this decision crucial to ensure you maximise your chances of being accepted on to a course. Detailed information on each of the 13 graduate entry courses, including eligibility criteria, is available in Chapter 4.
Applying to Medicine
The application process for Medicine, on either the undergraduate or graduate entry course, is both long and demanding compared to most degree courses. One reason for this is that medical school Admissions Officers act as gatekeepers not only to the medical school but to the medical profession in general. Therefore, a major role for medical schools during the admissions process is identifying those individuals considered to possess the right personal characteristics, as outlined in the General Medical Council's (GMC's) publication Tomorrow's Doctors (2009).
So as a prospective medical student, what are the main stages involved in the application process? Firstly, having decided which degree course and which medical schools to apply to, you will need to submit an online application via UCAS. In addition, you are likely to need to sit one or more of the standardised entrance exams.
Assuming that your written application and entrance exam impress your chosen medical schools sufficiently, you will then be invited to take part in one or more interviews. Regardless of your written application, without a strong interview you are unlikely to receive an offer. Excellent communication skills are one of the most important qualities for a future doctor and the interview is still considered by many to be the most valid way to assess this characteristic.
Following this stage of the process, the medical school will decide whether or not to offer you a place on the course. If an offer is made, it is usually on the provision of certain conditions, such as gaining a particular degree classification if you have not yet graduated. If you do not receive an offer, or fail to meet the conditions of the offer, you will be faced with deciding whether or not to reapply the following year. There are exceptions to this pathway, such as some medical schools not taking into account entrance exam results; however, these courses are in the minority.
A tough process certainly, but is it worth it? Absolutely. Despite the challenges faced when applying to medical school, once accepted you are on the first step to becoming a member of one of the most highly regarded professions. The degree still offers an almost guarantee of a job at the end and a structured career pathway to follow. In addition, the variety of jobs available to a qualified doctor is almost endless, meaning that there will almost certainly be a specialty that will suit your temperament and interests. An excellent starting point to get a flavour of the different specialties available with a medical degree is the NHS website on medical careers.
The last 16 years has seen the emergence of Graduate Entry Medicine in the UK and there are now 13 medical schools offering the course.
Competition is particularly high, with many more applicants than places; therefore careful preparation is crucial to success.
Graduate entry students bring with them many valuable assets drawn from their previous degree and life experiences, making them particularly attractive to medical schools.
As a graduate applicant, there are several additional considerations you may have, such as:
– Whether to apply to graduate or undergraduate Medicine
– Whether you will be able to finance the course with an existing student debt
The application process typically involves taking one or more entrance examinations, along with the submission of a UCAS application.
Once shortlisted, you will then proceed to interview, which – if successful – will lead to an offer being made by the medical school.
www.medschoolsonline.co.uk www.gmc-uk.org/education www.medicalcareers.nhs.uk www.dh.gov.uk/health/category/publications Department of Health (1997) Planning the medical workforce. London: Medical Workforce Standing Advisory Committee.CHAPTER 2
Is Graduate Entry Medicine right for you?
As a graduate wishing to study Medicine, one of the first decisions you will make is choosing which type of degree course to apply to. This decision can have a major influence on where you eventually study, how long for and what form the teaching will take. This chapter provides an outline of the entry routes available to graduates applying to study Medicine, highlighting the key features of the different courses to enable you to determine which would suit you best. The chapter also covers the practicalities of applying to medical school as a graduate, as well as common concerns encountered, such as the eligibility of your degree. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the relative strengths and drawbacks of Graduate Entry Medicine compared with Undergraduate Medicine.
Entry routes into Medicine
As a graduate, there are three entry routes to gaining a medical degree from a British university: the six-year foundation course, the standard five-year course and the four-year Graduate Entry Medicine course. Each is briefly described here.
Six-year foundation course
The six-year foundation course is open to applicants with or without a degree. It is offered by a limited number of universities and typically includes a 'pre-med' year, which is aimed at individuals without the necessary science A levels to gain entry on to the four- or five-year courses. Students study the basic Sciences (such as Chemistry and Biology) in the first year before joining students starting the five-year course. Generally, the academic entry criteria for the six-year course is equivalent to, or slightly below, that of the five-year course. However, some courses have specific criteria regarding applicants' geographical location and social background. If you are considering applying to the six-year course, you should contact the admissions offices of the medical schools you are interested in applying to directly, as only some will accept graduates.
Five-year undergraduate course
The five-year course is also open to applicants with or without a degree; however, the majority of students on the course are school leavers with A level qualifications predominantly in the Sciences. The number of graduate students on the five-year course varies markedly between universities, for example, graduates from as many as 20% of students at the University of East Anglia Medical School. Conversely, at some medical schools such as St George's, graduate students are ineligible to apply to the five-year course.
The five-year course also provides the opportunity to gain an additional degree by extending the course by a year, known as an intercalated degree. Studying for an intercalated degree enables students to undertake study in a particular field, usually in a subject related to Medicine, such as Anatomy or Medical Ethics. However, very few graduates pursue this option given that they already possess a Bachelor's degree as a minimum. Some universities, such as Imperial College, only offer a six-year course whereby an intercalated degree is a compulsory component of the undergraduate course.
Regarding academic entrance criteria, most universities require three to four good A level passes (typically grade A), with Chemistry as an essential subject. Although having a degree is not essential for entry on to the five-year course, most universities state that where a degree is offered, at least a 2:1 classification should have been predicted or achieved. If you have obtained a good degree classification and possess a Chemistry A level but your A level grades do not meet the course requirements, it is worthwhile contacting the admissions office directly to discuss your individual situation, as some universities will accept slightly lower A level results if these are compensated by a good degree classification.
Four-year graduate entry course
Finally, the four-year Graduate Entry Medicine course, which is the focus for the remainder of the chapter, is the most intensive of the three options given the accelerated nature of the programme. On most courses, students cover the first two years of the five-year syllabus in one year, before entering the third year of the five-year course. Some graduate entry courses allow students to intercalate during the course, to gain a Bachelor's or a Master's degree; however, this option is rarely taken up by graduates.
Private UK-based medical colleges
In recent years, a number of private medical colleges have established campuses in the UK. Students on these courses undertake part or all of their study in the UK; however, these courses lead to a primary medical qualification awarded by an overseas university. These courses are not registered or licensed by the GMC, therefore, medical graduates on these courses are not licensed to practise in the UK upon completion of the course.
Furthermore, the degrees do not entitle graduates to sit the Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB) test, which is the main route by which international medical graduates are granted permission to practise in the UK.
Private UK-based medical colleges are therefore not a viable option to applicants wishing to practise Medicine in the UK. For those who are still interested in this option, it is highly recommended that you undergo a serious period of research before opting for this route in view of the less stringent regulations of these courses and subsequent restrictions on where you would be eligible to practise.
Excerpted from Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) by Graham Blackman, Matt Green. Copyright © 2016 BPP Learning Media Ltd. Excerpted by permission of BPP University School of Health.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
About the Publisher ix
About the Editors x
About the Contributors xi
Preface to the second edition xvii
Preface to the first edition xviii
Chapter 1 Introduction 1
What is Graduate Entry Medicine? 2
Background to Graduate Entry Medicine 3
What graduates bring to Medicine 4
Considerations as a graduate 4
Applying to Medicine 5
Chapter 2 Is Graduate Entry Medicine right for you? 9
Entry routes into Medicine 10
Six-year foundation course 10
Five-year undergraduate course 11
Four-year graduate entry course 11
Private UK-based medical colleges 12
What is the difference between Graduate Entry Medicine and Undergraduate Medicine? 12
Can I study Graduate Entry Medicine if I have an Arts degree? 15
What if I obtained a 2:2 degree? 15
Is there an upper age limit for the Graduate Entry Medicine course? 16
I have children - can I still study Graduate Entry Medicine? 16
How competitive is Graduate Entry Medicine? 17
Should I apply to Graduate Entry Medicine or the five-year course? 18
Who make better doctors - undergraduate or graduate entry students? 19
Chapter 3 An overview of Graduate Entry Medicine 23
Course structure 25
Learning style 26
Problem-based learning: how does it work? 27
PBL and your application 29
What are the challenges of PBL? 29
Integrated versus traditional curricula 30
Integrating with the undergraduate course 31
Advantages of intercalation as a Graduate Entry Medicine student 32
Disadvantages of intercalation as a Graduate Entry Medicine student 33
The medical elective 34
Chapter 4 Choosing a medical school 39
University and course description 40
Course ranking 40
Student review 41
Medical schools 42
Barts and The London 42
University of Birmingham 44
University of Cambridge 47
Imperial College London 51
King's College London 53
University of Liverpool 56
Newcastle University 59
The University of Nottingham 62
University of Oxford 64
University of Southampton 67
St George's, University of London 70
Swansea University 73
University of Warwick 75
Chapter 5 The UCAS application and personal statement 79
When to apply 80
How to apply 80
Personal details 82
Further notes for applicants 84
Applicants to Oxford and Cambridge 84
International students 84
Deferred entry 85
Criminal records 85
Occupational health 86
What happens after you apply? 86
Replying to offers 86
The personal statement 87
Work experience 90
Other information 91
Extra-curricular activities 92
Concluding statement and final checks 93
Chapter 6 Work experience and extra-curricular activities 95
Why is work experience important? 96
Essential qualities 97
What is the most valuable type of work experience? 98
Hospital volunteering 100
Hospice volunteering 100
Paid employment 101
Befriending services 101
Working with people with disabilities 102
Working in a nursing home 102
Working with younger children 102
Reflecting on your experiences 103
Extra-curricular activities 104
Fundraising for charitable organisations 104
Playing a sport or learning a new hobby 105
Chapter 7 Admissions tests 107
The UKCAT 108
What is the UKCAT? 108
Content of the UKCAT 109
Who requires the UKCAT and how to register 110
Preparing for the UKCAT 111
Tips for success in the UKCAT 112
The GAMSAT 113
What is the GAMSAT? 113
Content of the GAMSAT 113
The GAMSAT score 115
Who requires the GAMSAT and how to register 115
Preparing for the GAMSAT 116
Tips for success in the GAMSAT 117
The BMAT 117
What is the BMAT? 117
Content of the BMAT 118
Who requires the BMAT? 118
Registration and important dates 119
Tips for success in the BMAT 119
Chapter 8 The medical school interview 121
Tomorrow's Doctors 122
The selection process 123
Barts and the London 123
University of Birmingham 124
University of Cambridge 124
Imperial College London 124
King's College London 124
University of Liverpool 125
Newcastle University 125
The University of Nottingham 125
University of Oxford 126
University of Southampton 126
St George's, University of London 126
Swansea University 126
University of Warwick 127
Interview questions 127
Types of questions 128
Fact-based questions 130
Ethics-based questions 131
Practical issues 133
Body language 133
Chapter 9 Medical careers 137
The Foundation Programme 138
Application to the Foundation Programme 138
Selection to the Foundation Programme 139
Objectives of foundation training 140
Foundation Year 1 140
Foundation Year 2 141
Specialty training 142
Uncoupled training 142
Run-through training 143
Application and competition for specialities 143
Membership exams and completion of specialist training 144
General Practice 145
Becoming a GP 146
Hospital Consultant 147
Becoming a Consultant 148
Academic Medicine 149
Becoming an Academic Clinician 149
Other careers in Medicine 150
Specialty doctors 151
Oral and maxillofacial surgery 151
Working in developing countries 152
The Armed Forces 152
Prison health service 152
Chapter 10 Financial concerns 155
Entrance exams 157
Tuition fees 157
Travel costs 158
Course materials 158
Medical elective 158
Living costs 159
Student loan 159
NHS bursary 161
University grants, bursaries and scholarships 162
Professional/career development loans 163
Part-time and summer work 163
Access to Learning Fund 164
Students with children 164
The Armed Forces 164
Doctors' salaries 165
Chapter 11 Coping as a mature student 167
Returning as a graduate student 168
Coping with being a student again 169
Extra-curricular activities 171
Communication skills 172
Balancing medical school and a family 173
Working part-time as a Graduate Entry Medicine student 174
Chapter 12 After an unsuccessful UCAS application 177
Coping with an unsuccessful application 178
Why was I unsuccessful? 179
Options available to unsuccessful candidates 179
Applying to Undergraduate Medicine 180
Applying to an alternative healthcare profession 181
Reapplying to Graduate Entry Medicine 185
What to do next? 185
Improving your application 186
Pre-interview stage 186
Interview stage 188
Post-interview stage 189