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Medicine is a very competitive field, offering a rewarding career and a wide range of specialties once you have completed your foundation training.
Find out about careers in medicine from:
These sites include details of the different medical specialties, including key skills and competencies, training, video-casts and case studies, career pathways and top tips for medical students.
Keep up to date with reporting of medical/scientific and health developments, ethical, political and social issues related to medicine:
This career path could offer an alternative option to medical school, for graduates with a science-related first degree. The two years' intensive training focuses on general adult medicine rather than specialty care. Physician Associates take medical histories, do physicial examinations, request and interpret tests, and diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, working in GP surgeries, Accident and Emergency departments and on some hospital wards. See the Health Careers website, the Faculty of Physician Associates or HYMS' MSc Physician Associate Studies for more information.
Consider the skills and personal qualities needed in this sector. These are likely to include:
Do you possess these skills and qualities? Can you demonstrate that you have them? Can you find ways to develop them? If you are considering working in a clinical role, how do you know that you will be comfortable in this environment?
You might like to take the NHS test to see what health careers would suit you.
You will need some work experience in a healthcare setting to demonstrate your commitment and understanding of working in medicine. You need to observe professionals at work, but this can be difficult to arrange and may only be possible for a limited time period. Try to find opportunities to work with children and adults in social and health care settings. Consider residential homes, day centres, hospices, voluntary organisations and health care support work. You could try:
It is particularly important to reflect on any work experience and be able to discuss what you learnt from it.
Hear from graduate medical students about getting Health Care Assistant (HCA) work experience before applying to medical school.
For graduates, there are two different training routes: the traditional 5 year undergraduate degree (which may have a quota for the number of graduate places), and the 4 year graduate entry degree; there are also some 6 year programmes with a foundation year for applicants without appropriate entry qualifications. Most graduate entry programmes prefer candidates with a relevant degree (2:1 or higher), but some recruit from any degree discipline. You may find this presentation helpful (correct as at February 2020) Graduate entry into medicine 2020 (PDF , 1,368kb)
Medical schools have different approaches to training, particularly the way that clinical training is organised and whether a problem based learning (PBL), traditional, or blended approach is used. Think carefully about what would suit you best, visit university open days and explore these websites to make an informed choice:
The majority of medical schools will interview shortlisted applicants. This may be a panel interview, but an increasing number of medical schools are now using multiple mini interviews (MMIs) for a more practical assessment of your suitability. See the Medical Schools Council for more on this interview format.
Have a look at the reference books in the Information Room of Careers and Placements:
After medical school, you will need to complete the two year foundation programme to gain experience in different specialties before deciding where you want to specialise in the longer term. This training can take between three and eight years depending on the specialty.