University subject profile: medicine | Education

What you’ll learn
Medicine degrees are for students ready to make a long-term commitment to becoming a doctor. You’ll spend five years at university (four if you’re on a graduate course), then you’ll work with patients. Further training will be required as you specialise in a particular branch of medicine.

Some courses are divided into pre-clinical and clinical parts; others are more integrated. Some adopt a systems-based approach (the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, etc); others a problem-based approach.

The early part of the course will develop your basic skills and knowledge to prepare you for your hospital experience. There will be teaching in general medicine and surgery, while subsequent years will cover major clinical specialities (such as renal medicine, oncology, and neurology).

By the time you graduate you should be fit to begin on-the-job training. You won’t be expected to know it all, but you should be able to assess a patient and manage treatment. You will understand disease and advise on healthy living.

You should have developed a certain level of compassion for your patients. Delivering bad news to a patient or their family will never be easy, but a caring attitude and an interest in the patient’s needs are important aspects of being a doctor. You will gain an understanding of the legal and ethical issues that come with a career in medicine.

How you’ll learn
You will learn through lectures, seminars, tutorials, lab work and bedside demonstrations. Your study includes hospital placements. Expect a challenging workload, with constant assessment through written and practical (clinical) exams, as well as coursework.

Entry requirements
Most universities demand top grades. If you have good A-levels (or equivalent) in chemistry, biology, maths and physics, you should have all the medical schools open to you.

Work experience in a health or social care setting will help your application. You need to apply early (in October) and you’ll be required to sit a test and attend an interview as part of admissions processes.

What job can you get?
After graduation you’ll begin a two-year training programme in a hospital. You’ll then train to specialise in a specific field, perhaps surgery or general practice. The length of training depends upon what you choose. You always have the option of moving into research.

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