1.5 Different routes into medicine

There are several ways to pursue a career in medicine and this chapter will serve as a brief overview of these options. They are then explored in more detail in other chapters within this section.

Students who are sure that they would like to become doctors can enter medical school on completion of their A-levels. It is worth bearing in mind that they will need to fulfil other criteria to be able to win a place, such as performing well during their interview and demonstrating their interest by organising appropriate work experience. Their entry into medical school is also dependent on them achieving the A-level grades as stated in their university offers.

Students who miss their university offers due to lower A-level grades can apply to do a foundation year at several universities. These programmes have lower entry requirements and serve as academic preparation for students to be able to apply to medical school afterwards.


Not everyone’s first degree is a medical degree! Graduates who have completed previous university degrees can also apply to medical school, with the option of either joining an undergraduate programme which lasts five years or a graduate entry programme which lasts four years.

For those who have taken a break from studies or do not have the right A-levels to apply to medical school, access courses are a way to ensure that they reach the right level of scientific knowledge required to pursue medicine. This just goes to show that even if you’ve embarked on a completely different career, you can still apply to medicine if you feel it is the right choice for you.

If you are interested in oral and maxillofacial surgery, you will be required to go to medical school to acquire your medical degree after qualifying as a dentist. The only difference of this situation compared to those that have already been mentioned is that these dentists enter medical school at the start of the clinical year, rather than having to go through the preclinical years as well.

From the spectrum of routes which are available if you are interested in getting into medical school, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider applying if you are genuinely interested and believe that it is the right career choice for you.

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