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So you have decided to study medicine

Currently there are around 10 applicants for every available place at Medical School and achieving the grades required for entry is not enough. Your personal qualities are just as important as your academic ability and medical schools want applicants to show evidence of commitment, ability to work effectively under pressure, team-working skills, leadership and compassion.

The following resourses are designed to support you in your journey to Medical School.

Do I have the right grades in the right subjects?

The entry requirements for entry to each university can vary but excellent grades in science subjects such as chemistry and biology are essential. 

Generally speaking you are aiming to achieve  at least 5 Highers, usually at AAAAB or AAABB grades in S5 and SQA Advanced Highers at AB or BBB in S6, however consideration will be given to factors which may affect you achieving these grades.

Scottish Medical Schools are committed to ensuring that a person’s background or life circumstances are not a barrier to them studying medicine.

This means that Medical Schools will consider all circumstances which may prevent you meeting their standard entry requirements and make adjusted offers of entry accordingly.

This process is called contextualised admission and consideration is given to potential barriers such as disability, care experience*, carer responsibilities, refugee status and challenging financial or family circumstances. View more about the Adjusted Entry Criteria for the University of Glasgow.

* Care experienced applicants are people who live/have lived with foster parents/kinship carers or who live/have lived in a residential children’s setting/secure unit.

I’m not a school leaver and I don’t have these highers – can I still apply?

You can find out more about applying to study medicine and links to specific entry requirements for each university, including other accepted academic qualifications here.

You may also apply to study medicine through the ScotGEMS Graduate Entry Programme.

If you are not a University Graduate you may also be able to apply via the Scottish Wider Access Programme here.

Aside from good grades what else do I need?

Having the right grades is just the start of the application process. Most Universities will need you to sit the University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT). UCAT is designed to test your attitudes and identify the professional behaviours required for new doctors and dentists to be successful in their clinical careers.

I don’t think I can afford to study Medicine – is there funding available?

If you are resident in Scotland and study full-time in Scotland, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) should pay your tuition fees. For all enquiries relating to SAAS, please consult them directly.

SAAS student loans

If you are a Scottish student, you can apply for a SAAS student loan when you apply for tuition fee funding. Loan payments are paid monthly; and you should receive the first instalment within 3 or 4 days of registering as a student. Make sure you have enough money to support yourself for those first few days and please check whether the loan payment is in your account before spending money.

Grants

If you are eligible, SAAS can offer supplementary grants or a Young Student’s Bursary. Please consult SAAS for more information on grants.

Further information about SAAS eligibility, support available and how to apply can be found here:

Bursaries, Scholarships and Other Financial Support

You may also be able to apply for additional funding directly from your University. Use the links below to find our more about each universities arrangements:

Does a disability, Illness or mental health condition mean I can’t apply to study medicine?

A disability, chronic illness or mental health condition will not necessarily prevent you from becoming a doctor. The General Medical Council (independent regulator for doctors in the UK) states that “we firmly believe disabled people should be welcomed to the profession and valued for their contribution to patient care”. 

You can also find out more about support available to you here Disability Guidance | Disabled Doctors Network.

Before you submit an application for medical school via UCAS, you should contact medical schools to request advice about your individual circumstances. Each medical school has a disability support adviser who can help.

All Universities offer confidential support services for disabled students.

This includes students with physical and sensory impairments, mental health difficulties and dyslexia.

You can find out more about what support is available by clicking the links below:

Do I need to pass an interview?

Yes, but you will be given guidance and support in advance of your interview and its designed to be a conversation rather than an a question and answer session. 

While each medical school has its own interview process it is a vital part of the application and selection wherever you are applying. There are several sources of interview guidance online and it is worth practising with anyone you can – whether that is family, friends or teachers.

Remember that just like there is no “right” person for medicine, there is rarely a “right” answer in an interview.  It is a conversation and your score will depend much less on what you say but more on how you say it.  Try to have a reason behind any answer you give, make your answers as personal to your own experiences as you can and speak as clearly and confidently as you can. Enthusiasm and commitment are the key things an interviewer will be looking for.

The Royal College of Surgeons (England) has prepared a list of possible questions to help you prepare.

So why do you want to be a Doctor?

Source – Medic Insight Dundee

What’s it like being a medical student?

Once at university there are frequent assessments and you will have a more hectic schedule than most other students, but there is an immense camaraderie amongst fellow medical students and a sense of growing confidence in your own ability. 

Each Medical School has a slightly different structure to their course, but broadly speaking the first couple of years are spent learning the basic science behind human physiology and disease, and the later years are spent learning how to apply this clinically. As you progress through medical school you will not only learn the knowledge to become a doctor but also the skills and attitudes you will need.

You will be taught by doctors, nurses and a whole range of other healthcare professionals and each one is committed to making you the best doctor you can possibly be.

After medical school you will progress through the different grades before qualifying as a Consultant or a General Practitioner – with competitive entry to each grade and post-graduate exams. These things should not put you off but it is important to be aware that the challenges continue long after university.  

You can find out more about training to be a Doctor or visit the NHS Scottish Medical Training website www.scotmt.scot.nhs.uk.

Life as a Medical Student – Video Resources

Each student has their own experience of life at medical school but there are some things which are common to everyone.  There is a huge feeling of being “in it together” and although there are regular challenges the support of your colleagues is always there. Most doctors still consider their time at medical school to be the most enjoyable time of their life.

Here is a selection of interviews with current medical students at Glasgow University to see how they feel about certain aspects of medical school.