Welcome to Medschools Online. If you’re here, you are probably interested in a career as a doctor. If so, you’re at the right place! This website is aimed at anyone who is thinking of studying medicine in the UK and this section helps you to work out where to start.

Working as a doctor

A career in medicine is very varied and there are hundreds of different types of doctor. One of the biggest advantages of studying medicine is the number of options open to you when you qualify. You can specialise in anything from broken bones to skin conditions, mental illness to open heart surgery, or pregnancy to post mortems. What ever type of doctor you would like to be, the first step is to study medicine at university. If you would like to find out more about the different types of doctor, visit our medical careers section.

Studying medicine

If you want to become a practising doctor (GP, hospital doctor etc) in the UK, the first step is to study medicine at university. This is the ONLY way you can legally practise as a doctor in the UK. There are over one hundred universities in the UK, and only 31 of them have degree courses in medicine. Only courses entitled ‘Medicine’ will enable you to become a doctor – other similar courses such as ‘Biomedical Science’ are actually science degrees and, while closely allied to medicine, will not enable you to practise as a doctor. Degrees in medicine usually take 5 years, but some courses last only 4 years, while others take 6 – it depends what type of medicine degree you’re doing. To find out more about what a degree in medicine involves, please visit our course guide section.

Do I really want to be a doctor?

Being a doctor is a big responsibility. The decisions you make and the way you interact with people can make a huge difference to people’s lives, both good and bad. The hours can be long and the work can be emotionally and physically demanding. It’s a good idea to talk to lots of people about whether being a doctor is right for you. Discuss it with your friends and family, teachers or careers advisor to help you come to a decision. Also talk to any doctors that you know, maybe a relative, a family friend or even your own GP. Ask them what they most enjoy about their job, what they least enjoy and what advice they would give to someone thinking about becoming a doctor. However, the best way to find out if you really want to be a doctor is to do work experience.

Work experience

Gaining work experience is an essential part of deciding to become a doctor. As a result, virtually all medical schools expect applicants to have undertaken some health or social care work experience. This might involve following doctors to see what the job really involves (known as shadowing) or volunteering in a hospital, hospice or care home to find out if you really enjoy working with people. Visit our jobs and volunteering section to find out more.

What qualifications do I need?

That entirely depends on the type of course you are applying for. If you’re a school leaver, you’ll probably need predicted A-level grades of at least ABB (or the equivalent) and you’ll probably actually need to get AAB or AAA. If you are a mature student, but haven’t done a degree, the entry requirements are often similar to school leavers but some universities expect you to show evidence of recent study. If you’re a graduate, you’ll probably need at least a 2.1, although some medical schools will sometimes accept a 2.2. Some medical schools only accept certain degree subjects, while others will accept any degree. Our course guide provides much more information on the entry requirements for different courses.

Applying to medical school

All applications to university are handled by UCAS – the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. The application deadline is the 15th October each year for courses starting the following September. You can apply to only 4 medicine courses at the same time. Many medical schools will require you to sit an entrance exam of which there are several different types. Most medical schools will also require you to attend an interview as the final stage of the applications process. To find out more about the applications process, please visit our section on how to apply.

How will I pay for it?

All students starting on university courses from September 2013 will have to pay tuition fees of up to £9000 per year. Most medical courses are expected to charge the full £9000 per year. You will also need to fund all your living expenses for up to 6 years at medical school. However, there is lots of financial help available. There are student loans to cover the tuition fees, additional student loans to help with living expenses, maintenance grants, NHS bursaries, hardship funds, scholarships and private bank loans. Some of these either never have to be repaid (such as grants and bursaries), while others are only repaid after graduation when you are earning. Most doctors can expect to earn at least £1.5 to £2 million over the course of their careers, and have very secure jobs, so even £30,000 of debt will easily be repaid. Don’t let the fear of debt put you off if you really want to be a doctor and you believe you have the ability to do medicine. To find out more, please visit our money matters section.

What are my chances of getting into Medical School?

Getting into medical school is a very competitive process – there are far more people with the required qualifications than the number of places available. You can find statistics on the number of applicants per place in our course guide. It is important to realise that there is always an element of luck involved. There’s nothing you can do about this, but you CAN maximise your possible chances of getting an offer. You need to put a lot of time and effort into your application. Research all the available courses carefully and find which ones you’re eligible for. Put a lot of effort into your personal statement and get your teachers, lectures, friends and family to check it and take on board their criticism. Do some work experience and prepare and practice carefully for your interview. Finally, be honest and genuine. If you don’t succeed first time round, think about why this might be and reapply – some people have succeeded at the third attempt. For more ideas on how to maximise your chances, visit our how to apply section.

Mature students and graduates

Because mature students have additional things to think about, we’ve created an extra guide for them. Go to the graduates and matures section to find out more.