If you’re not sure you definitely want to study medicine, don’t quite have the grades, or want to pursue something related to medicine first to see if you enjoy it, then consider taking a related science degree first. This route into medicine is longer, and more expensive, but offers many advantages. Being older and wiser you are more likely to have maturity and resilience to cope with the course, having developed your study skills during your other degree, and feeling more confident about your decision to study medicine having had more time to think about it and your career goals.
Graduates can enter into the undergraduate degree course – 5 years in length or apply to a graduate course, which is an intense 4-year programme. You will not be able to get a student loan if you apply for graduate entry so this is another consideration. Many medical schools value the extra age, experience and maturity graduates offer so very much value these applicants. Be aware that competition onto the specific 4-year graduate courses is especially tough with fierce competition ratios so you will need a glowing application and at least a 2:1 degree to stand a good chance. You are only able to apply to 4 medical schools through UCAS and 1 other option so put some thought into this 5th option and find out about what course and university you may like to go to if you don’t succeed in your application.
Graduate medicine is increasingly popular. Completing another degree before studying medicine is a beneficial option for many such as those who aren’t completely sure if medicine is for them, or who don’t meet the requirements for entry at the end of Sixth Form. Studying a science course before studying medicine also means that there is more time to mature and develop academically and as a person.
There are currently 16 medical schools that offer graduate courses. Competition for places on these is tough and the teaching is intense (the course is condensed into 4 years). After a first degree students can also apply to the undergraduate medical course (which is 5 years), this is especially helpful after studying a less medically-related first degree and places on the 5 year course are generally less fiercely competitive.
For graduates who are applying after an initial degree the competition is even steeper. It is important to apply to study medicine after giving yourself adequate time to think thoroughly about your decision and your application, time to prepare for the next steps and research into medical careers.
As a graduate you may have more time to make sure that you are making the right decision and to feel more confident that you have the skills and commitment to be a great medical student. In some countries like America they only operate a graduate entry system to medical school. Weigh this against the extra time spent in university and the financial burden of having to fund your studies by yourself as you cannot get a student loan for a second degree. If you are very uncertain then doing a related degree first may be a wise choice as may taking a gap year, but remember that everyone will have a little uncertainty or apprehension about entering medical school.