How did you decide on your current career? Did you nurture a dream from a young age and see it through? Did you decide in school when you realised that you had an aptitude for certain subjects? Did you choose a course at University, thoroughly hate it, graduate and decide to do something else? In our latest addition to The Hub, ‘Getting Into – ’ we share information regarding getting into specific careers from professionals in the discipline. In this article, Chidi Amadi, a medical student shares information about getting into Medicine in the UK.
APH: What is your current role?
CA: I am a final year medical Student at King’s College London (from August 2015).
When did you realise you wanted to be a doctor and what steps did you take to get there?
I realised I wanted to be a doctor when I was 16, after my GCSE results (10 A*s and 5 As). I was informed by my school that I was the only student to gain 3 A*s in Triple Science. I combined this outcome with parental guidance, my love for science and a desire to enter a prestigious challenging career … and the passion for medicine was born. The journey to getting into Medicine starts from your GCSE’s and not just A’ Levels.
The steps I took to get here were choosing my A levels appropriately. Chemistry is compulsory, Maths and Biology are desirable – I strongly recommend those three. Your fourth should preferably be a humanities (geography, history or economics) or a language. Getting into medical school is highly competitive, so realistically, you should achieve A’s and A*’s in your A’ Level subjects.
Secondly, I arranged work experience early (hospital, GP and care home). Thirdly, I made sure I was in close contact with those ahead of me i.e. medical undergraduates at the time, newly qualified doctors as I realised that they were best placed to advise me. This was particularly important in preparing for the interview.
How would you answer the question ‘Why would you like to study Medicine?’ Most prospective medical student’s response to that question relates to wanting to care for sick people but you could also do that as a nurse or pharmacist. This is where the advice of those in the profession can prove invaluable. More information on preparing for interviews can be found here.
In your opinion, what are the important skills and personal attributes to succeed in Medicine?
Medicine is a long course and an even longer career to embark upon so you must be ready for the challenge. It needs dedication, consistency and the ability to think laterally. Working as a doctor involves problem solving, often using an indirect and creative approach. Beyond subject knowledge, to succeed in the medical profession, you must also have excellent communication skills – especially listening. Further information about skills required can be found here.
Can you describe a typical working day?
9-12: Ward round (presenting patients’ cases to Consultants and seniors as they review them)
12-1: Lunch break
1-4: Clinics with consultants, teaching with seniors or self-directed ward activity
What do you like the most and least about your job?
Like the most – the diversity of what needs to be learnt.
Like the least – I can’t remember when I slept before 1am.
What do you wish someone else had told you before you embarked on your academic/professional journey?
That I should be prepared to be challenged beyond my preconceived limits.
What advice would you share with anyone interested in studying Medicine and how can one get in?
Motivation – If you want a title, money, or fame then please do not study Medicine. You will save yourself a lot of time, effort and save patients a lot of headache which come from unenthusiastic doctors. Assess your interest in studying Medicine and ensure it is genuine – a real interest with a primary focus. Medicine has to be something that you really want to do.
Preparation – I would advise also that you start your journey early! Prepare a strong personal statement, get some work experience and start your UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) and Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT) revision even before the start of your AS level exams. ‘The early bird catches the worm.’
For more information on getting into Medicine in the UK, please visit the Medical Schools Council guide for students.
Chidi Amadi is a final year medical student at the GKT School of Medical Education, King’s College London.
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