Medical School Interviews: What to expect

Hello again everyone. I would like to apologise for my lack of posts since starting second year, it has been very hectic with lots of interesting things going on. I am going to try to post on a regular basis as much as possible, but as hopefully you can appreciate it is much easier said than done. Saying that if anyone has any specific questions or posts they want to see feel free to contact me (my email is in the contact section).

I am going to be doing a 3 part series on medical school interviews. I am obviously no expert on this, but I feel like having gone through the process I can share my advice to help people who are going through this for the first time (for many of you this may even be your first ever interview). I understand right now a lot of people have interview invitations and are anxiously preparing for those, or a lot of you are waiting for interview invites to come in. All I can say here is try not to panic whatever the outcome, medical school applications are a long process and stressing now is not going to help you.

Why do medical schools interview?

To some people this may seem like a no brainer, but I get asked this question quite a lot. I feel by knowing why medical schools interview candidates it prepares you much better for the type of things to expect on the day.

Medical schools interview applicants for many different reasons as outlined below:

  • To be able to meet the applicant in person and assess their communication skills.
  • To allow the applicant to elaborate on certain aspects of their UCAS application.
  • To see if the applicant has the skills and personality suited to a career in medicine and has an understanding and interest in the medical field.
  • To give each applicant a fair chance of an offer (believe it or not some applicants have their personal statement written for them).
  • To ensure that the applicant meets/exceeds the standards expected of a medical student.

I think it is very important to stress that interviews are not there to catch you out, every interviewer wants you to succeed and hence questions will most likely not be harsh or mean in any way. Yes there will be some hard and thought provoking questions asked to you, but all of these are just assess the 5 criteria explained above. Unfortunately not every applicant interviewed will be offerred a place, this is due to the large amounts of competition for places in medicine. I want to highlight to applicants who may be disheartened with a post interview rejection that it is nothing personal and in no way means that you are not good enough for medicine, it just means that on the day someone else performed slightly better. Take home message here is dont be disheartened or scared by medical school interviews or post interview rejections, its just one step on the path to becoming a doctor which everyone goes through.

What to expect from a medical school interview?

Every medical school interviews at different times and in different ways. It is now widely accepted that there are 3 major types of medicine interview:

  • Oxbridge interviews
  • MMI
  • Panel based interviews

Multiple mini interviews

Most medical schools are now using MMI, this is a fairly new format and is very different to a traditional interview setting. MMI’s consist of a number of short stations each with different interviewers which you will rotate around during your interview. Each station will have a different theme and stations can consist of:

  • interviewer asking traditional interview questions.
  • exploration of the personal statement or work experience.
  • ethical scenarios or dilemmas which aim to get you to discuss and solve problems.
  • Numerical and data analysis skills stations.
  • Role play scenarios which aim to simulate certain aspects of being a doctor (common ones include breaking bad news or how to deal with an angry patient).
  • discussion or tasks involving all of the other applicants.

Not every MMI will contain all of those, but some will crop up and its important to be prepared for every possibility especially is you are easily panicked when caught off guard. The hardest part about these interviews is trying to get all your thoughts out in the timeframe, Considering you have made it to interview the medical school definetly have seen potential in you, but its now practising and learning how to verbalise your though processes and feelings in a short space of time (and this is what most people struggle with). MMIs traditionally last a couple of hours, and can be very physically and emotionally draining. Ensure beforehand you have eaten well and have water with you.

Universities which offer MMI interviews include: Aberdeen, Birmingham, BSMS, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Exeter, HYMS, Keele, KCL, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, UEA, Nottingham, QUB, Sheffield, St Andrews, SGUL and Warwick. 

Panel interviews

Panel interviews involve you (the applicant) and a panel of 1 or more interviewers, and they can be very intimidating. Each panel lasts a different amount of time depending upon the medical school and they aim to ask candidates specific questions relating to many different topics such as:

  • Motivation to study medicine.
  • Motivation to study at that particular medical school/university.
  • Knowledge of the NHS, the medical profession and the medical school curriculum.
  • Understanding of medical ethics and current topics of medical interest.
  • The applicants interests and achievements outside and inside of academia.
  • The applicants work experience and voluntary work.

The interviewers are looking for an applicants who have teamwork, leadership, responsibility, critical thinking, problem solving, communication and empathy skills and traits. Look at panel interviews as if you are having a chat with somebody rather than somebody assessing you, that way you are more likely to relax helping you to think and express your thoughts clearly.

Universities which offer panel interviews include: Barts, Glasgow, Imperial, Plymouth, Southampton, Swansea, UCL.

Oxbridge

Many people have heard crazy stories about oxbridge interviews, but in reality they are just a slightly different panel interview style. Oxbridge interviews are effectively a simulation of a tutorial which is a method used in teaching at the colleges. These interviews hence are geared towards science and ethical questions (as well as some personal questions) which get you brain working to solve problems. At these interviews its important to speak your thought processes aloud, and take each problem step by step. If you try to jump into the answer often you will become flustered and mix yourself up, oxbridge are looking at how you think and how you reason with your ideas here, not about whether you get the answer right or wrong.

For oxbridge interviews it is important to be prepared for tricky questions, and be confident in your answers even if they turn out to be wrong (or really you just have no idea).

Preparing for medical school interviews

Now hopefully the type of interviews and the purpose of them is much clearer to you, and you may be feeling a little more at ease with what to expect from each type of interview. I have to say this guide is not comprehensive, but gives you a basic idea of the different interview styles and what they entail.

It is very important to be prepared for a medical school interview. Although many will tell you that you cannot say what you will be asked (this is true) and hence cannot prepare (not true), I always reccomend spending some time before your interview preparing for every possibility. I will be exploring this is more detail in my next edition of this 3 part series.

Right now I want to urge every single medical applicant out there that its is very early days. We are in mid-november and medical schools will be interviewed until march (as they do every year), right now its important to stay calm, and keep going with your school work, after all an offer is great but you still need the grades.

Best of luck with your applications,

Nat x

 

 

 

 

Back to reality: starting second year of medical school.

As many of you may know, I am a Cardiff medical student, and 2 weeks ago I sat down in my very first 9am class of 2nd year. I am sat today in the comfort of my room after just completing my first case of year 2 and wanted to spend a little bit of time reflecting on the past year at medical school and looking on into the future.

I also at the end of this post am going to share a few hints and tips (or dos and donts) for the freshers who may naively make the same mistakes I did, well fear not freshers because I am going to set things straight!

Reflecting upon first year…

My first year of medical school went by in the blink of an eye, it honestly feels like it was just yesterday when naive young me sat in this huge lecture theatre to be told I was “the 1%” who made it through the interview stages and got my place on this very seat to study medicine. Its actually quite crazy that it was a whole year ago.

I remember starting first term last year and suddenly feeling the immense weight of all the work being thrown onto my shoulders, I was not expecting anything they threw at me and quite frankly trying to stay afloat was very difficult. I would spend endless hours each night trying and horrifically failing to memorise all the processes and molecules involved in the krebs cycle, and I remember sitting in my room at gone midnight thinking to myself that I made a huge mistake choosing medicine. I honestly was so wrong, but in the moment everything just got to much.

Christmas rolled around and I welcomed the 3 weeks off to study for my first ever exams. I remember returning in January and sitting 2 HUGE exam papers, and somehow managing to scrape a pass in one of them (we wont talk about the other one…), That was a very proud moment for me.

I then began second term very positively, CBL kicked in and everything was going super well, I did some research projects as part of my course on some very current issues, joined a choir and even had some evenings off every now and then. But soon summer exams crept up on me and I felt like I was drowning again. I remember quite clearly sitting at my desk some evenings and staring at pages of notes I had written with no clue as to when I had even learnt any of this material, let alone having to understand it all. Lets just say I must have got my act together (not sure how) and I did manage to pass second year with a very respectable 67% average in my exams (and I was ranked in the top 25% of my year!), so it wasn’t all that bad!

Year 1 was the best and worst year of my life, I cried (A lot), laughed (even more than a lot) and shared some of the happiest memories with some amazing friends that I had made. Looking back now yes of course I would have done things differently, but my older and wiser self knows where I went wrong. Overall year 1 was the making of me as an adult, and as a medical student, and I wouldnt change it (even with all the bad times).

My advice to freshers

Coming into medical school is such a huge life change, most of you will be leaving home to a new and exciting (but also very big and scary) place, and a lot of you will have to learn how to adjust to university teaching and work, I just wanted to share a few of my tips with you all so you dont fall into the same traps as I did.

  1. DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS: all the way through college as prospective medical students you are used to comparing yourself to everyone else, because thats what applying to medicine does to you. To ensure you are applying to the correct medical schools for you hours upon hours have probably been spent (even if you wont admit it) scouring the student room looking at how well everyone else did on the UKCAT, and how many more A*s they have at GCSE. In medicine it is very easy to do the same thing, but I promise you that it is not healthy at all. back in school it was very likely that you were used to being the top of the class, now you have entered medical school nearly everyone who is in your year is also used to being the same thing. Everything strives for their own personal goals and that is absolutely fine, but dont start comparing the amount of work you do to someone else or comparing scores on tests with other people as it is not productive nor good for your mental wellbeing. I would say strive to better yourself rather than compare yourself, set your own personal goals to beat and dont get disheartened when your score isnt at the top of the year, because it will happen, just know that a pass is a pass and you will still be that doctor you dreamed of being one day.
  2. Dont buy every textbook: It is so easy to fill your bookshelf up with beautiful (and expensive) medical textbooks before you start university, but dont buy every single book from the list. I would personally reccomend you try out the books before you buy them and see which ones you will use and which ones you dont like, everyone has different preferences and trust me spending £40+ on a textbook which you will use twice is just not worth it.
  3. Take time for YOU! its super easy when starting medical school to go mad and study all the time, and you may feel like the amount of work is never-ending, but it is so so important that you take time for yourself to go to societies, chill with friends and have that film night you have been talking about for 3 weeks. Medicine is a stressful, time consuming and complex degree, and it is so easy to get carried away and hold your breath under the sea of work hanging over you, but please dont forget to come up for air once in a while. Enjoy these years, as in a couple of years time you will be on placement and it is highly likely you will have less and less time for yourself as the years go on.
  4. Chat to your lecturers: A lot of students will just passively sit in a lecture and when they dont understand something will easily brush over it. But your lecturers are there to teach you and often a lot of them would love for you to ask the questions and get the explanations, dont be afraid to approach them in person or via email to discuss any confusion you may be feeling. It is much better to get it sorted straight away than to be confused 2 days before the exam unsure where to turn.
  5. Revise smart: this is by far one of the most important points I will make. Coming from A-levels or a past degree, you will be very used to how to revise to pass the exams to get you into medicine, but remember now your here, your learning information to utilise during your vocation, and with such a large volume of information to take in it is important that you learn how to revise smart. Often for many people their old study buddy (past papers) no longer exists, and it is important that you take the mock exams during your first year as a time to practice different revision methods for when it counts, I can say for 99% of people how they revised previously is unlikely to work for medicine, so start early. A key point is also that you are never ever going to be able to know everything in such great detail as you may be used to with A-levels, hence you need to learn to revise smart and prioritise things which you have covered a lot and in more detail, look at it this way, it is much more likely that the topic you spent a whole week on is going to be examined on than the 1 slide during a random lecture in first week, so get prioritizing and make sure you know what is more likely to appear.

There are so many things I could say here, But above are my key staples of advice for every fresher out there.

Looking forward

Having completed my first 2 weeks of year 2 I am feeling very excited about this year to come, I have clinical exams coming at the end of this year plus my first chance to experience finals as a second year. I am still getting used to introducing myself though, I keep walking into clinical skills saying “hello my name is Natalie and I am a fir… sorry second year medical student”, that will just never ring right with me, how did I get from GCSE results day to here?

Looking ahead I cannot wait to get stuck in!

 

Nat x

 

 

Applying to medicine using your strengths: Decoding university admissions policies.

Applying to medicine can be one of the most confusing and stressful times. Your faced with a sea of applicants who have amazing grades and entrance exams scores, are baffled into confusion by each universities admissions policy and are just unsure what will make the cut.

Each year thousands of people apply to medicine, competition ratios are incredibly high with many more applicants to offers, and around 60% of applicants will get 4 rejections when applying to medicine due to this. Hence it is so important to give yourself the best shot at getting an offer, the best way to do this is to apply to medical schools where your credentials stand out. For example applying to a medical school which only uses the UKCAT to score candidates for interview when you have a score over 800 will mean you will be selected for sure, whereas if you apply with a score below 600 you will not be competitive.

During my application cycle I really struggled to ‘decode’ the admissions policies of each university, and it was hard to know not only what they were looking for, but also what would be good enough to be competitive there. One of the major regrets of my application was not understanding these admissions policies and applying to places where my application just drowned in a see of other more qualified people, but I didnt know that at the time.

What I have created is a document which collates all of the information found on the university admissions policies for GCSEs, Alevels and entrance exams at each medical school for A100 and placed them together so it is easy to see at a glance where you will not stand out and where you are likely to be a strong applicant. This document is made by myself completely, but does not replace any university admissions document and the information in this document may not be completely accurate and up to date, so can I ask anyone that uses it to ensure before going any further you check the universities website to double check your requirements meet the standard.

I hope this document helps people, TSR have a resource very similar but sadly it is a little out of date hence why I felt it important to make a more up to date version.

2017 entry NRM2707 admissions policy document: 

A100 2017 entry admissions policies (NRM2707-FDB)

PLEASE NOTE! SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY HAVE UPDATED THEIR ADMISSIONS POLICY AND NOW RANK THE HIGHEST UKCAT SCORES FOR INTERVIEW, I WILL UPDATE THE DOCUMENT ASAP BUT I AM CURRENTLY AWAY WITH NO ACCESS TO A COMPUTER!

When asked for password just select open the document as read only!

I hope this helps anyone applying to medicine and helps ease confusion by having everything in one place. Please if you notice any incorrect information contact me so I can edit it to prevent the spread of incorrect information. Please read the disclaimer on the first page!

Natalie x

What is it like to study under a lecture-based curriculum?

As you may be aware if you have read my previous blog post I have just completed year 1 of medicine at Cardiff university, which is a predominantly CBL based course style in the pre-clinical years. So you may now be wondering how on earth I am going to be able to tell you what a lecture based curriculum is like because I haven’t witnessed one, but this is where it gets a little complex.

Most universities for medicine will brand their course structure with a single title such as CBL/PBL/lecture-based, but just because the main style of teaching on the course falls under the 1 method doesn’t mean you will not experience another method also. At Cardiff during the autumn semester of year 1 all medical students undergo a programme of 3 modules named ‘Platform for clinical sciences’ which is not in CBL format, it is in fact a lecture based style of teaching. So for 3 months of my year 1 study I did experience a lecture based course style, and this post is going to be my reflection on that experience as well as guide to what it is really like studying under this type of curriculum.

What does a lecture based curriculum even mean?

I have covered in a previous post the many different types of course structures across the medical schools in the UK. As a brief summary, a lecture based curriculum is exactly what it says on the tin. Medical students will spend the majority of their pre-clinical years learning the pre-clinical sciences through all year lectures, small group tutorials, seminars and lab teachings. This course style requires much less independant study and self inquiry and relies much more on the students engaging and taking in the material delivered to them in these structured classes.

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Teaching delivered through lab sessions. 

As stated in my previous post sometimes this course style can mean a lack of patient contact and clinical exposure in pre-clinical years, but for me this was not the case as clinical skills and some very early patient contact sessions were timetabled into our week to help us prepare for clinical practice early on.

My experience of a lecture-based curriculum.

As I only witnessed this method of teaching for 3 months It was like a whirlwind to me, I was new to medical school, freshers was in full swing and I was also having a tough time adjusting to life without my family around me, so I apologise if the details are lacking here.

PCS as it was known by students is the rigorous programme of 3 modules undertaken in autumn term of year 1 at Cardiff medical school. From my understanding its aim seems to be to bring all students from various different backgrounds and education systems together and up to speed as well as give us a very good grounding in the basics (but it didnt seem very basic at the time) of the pre-clinical sciences so we could apply our knowledge and build on it further during case based learning. The 3 module programme was neither systems based nor science based to me, but this may have been because it was very fast paced and we moved from topic to topic very quickly. Each module did have a theme though so it wasn’t all that crazy.

A typical week in the life of a lecture based student can be seen below, I have modified one of my timetables to show you the average contact hours as well as the variety of learning methods encompassed into one week. What may be different to many other courses is that Cardiff cover the majority of the core anatomy teaching within PCS, hence it may seem like we have a lot of anatomy sessions, this may not be the case at other medical schools who do not aim to give students the majority of the core anatomical teaching within a short space of time.

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A general overview of a lecture based medical students week.

Above was an average timetable for me during my first term at medical school, if you have counted it clocks up 26 hours of timetabled study which is broken down into lectures (6 hours), anatomy lab (6 hours), physiology labs (3 hours), small group tutorials (9 hours) and clinical skills teaching (2 hours). Obviously this is not at all representative of every lecture based curriculum, especially if your thinking of heading to oxbridge where supervisions are scheduled into the week, but it is a good idea of the kind of things you will be doing if you chose this curriculum style.

What was this like as a learning environment?

From a personal standpoint after a whole year of trying to make it work, lectures just are not the right learning environment for me. I struggle to focus on listening for long periods of time and I find my focus is much greater when I am actively studying. Saying this I found that attending the lectures and recording them as well as listening and trying to take notes made the information much easier to study, but it didn’t necessarily stick the first time. I took much better to the small groups, lab teaching and anatomy teaching. The small group teaching was particularly great because it allowed me to build on the information from lectures and solve the problems surrounding these in smaller groups with close guidance from an academic in this field. I did find that at the end of the day I had to review a lot of the material from lectures and groups to truly understand it all, hence this made the days very long and tiring, but it was worth it when it all finally clicked.

This style of curriculum is incredibly full on, hefty contact hours as well as little time scheduled for independant study meant I was always behind in terms of where I wanted my understanding to be, and I can definetly say this course style did not suit me at all. A lot of information was covered in a very short amount of time and I was always running to catch up.

Looking back on this style of learning now though having been through CBL, it providing me with a great foundation knowledge bank of pre-clinical science and has made my life so much easier in case group as the content we are covering is just building on things we have already covered. Hence in reflection whilst it was such a slog going through the long hours and lack of sleep, it was worth it to have that solid basis for further study.

How do you cope with the workload and full timetable?

I am not going to lie, the timetable and workload I witnessed whilst following this curriculum was very intense, and hence it required a lot of forward thinking and planning.

It is really important to plan out your days with your timetable in mind to be able to review your lecture material and other resources as well as study and frankly for myself just keep up. I found it best to plan my week in advance, giving myself slots for study, review and also FREE TIME! I cannot stress the importance of balance when following this curriculum, it is so easy to end up locked away in your room/library drowning in books, but you need to make time for yourself and know your limits.

Looking back now I approached this term with the wrong mindset of trying to make notes on absolutely everything, and whilst this did benefit me during CBL, it was impossible to keep up with alongside this very full timetable. Hence to cope with the workload of this curriculum I advise you annotate your lectures during the actual lecture and only make brief notes to consolidate things you dont know. This also frees some time up to do things you enjoy as well as study when exams are around the corner.

The workload was very straining, particularly because one single 50 minute lecture would cover a whole chapters worth of information in a textbook, and with multiple of these a week it can often feel slightly suffocating upon review. My best advice here is stop panicking and just try your best to take notes during the lectures and then on the weekend spend a good couple of hours reviewing it all and making sure you understand everything.

Is a lecture based course for me?

Before coming to medical school I thought I would really enjoy a lecture based course, but having experienced it I would have to say I do prefer a more self inquiry based CBL /PBL structure. For me people who enjoy being given information directly to learn rather than having to motivate themselves and search for the information themselves would be more suited to this style of course. Also if you have a deep interest in the pre-clinical sciences then a lecture based course may cover more of this in greater detail, and hence it may appeal to you. My advice as always is check out every single universities course at an open day or via a prospectus before you apply and find out what you like the sound of and what interests you.

 

This is my experience of a lecture based curriculum. Although it was brief and will differ from other medical schools which adopt this technique throughout their entire curriculum, I hope it was a useful insight into a more traditional course style. It didn’t personally work for me, but hopefully from above you can get a sense of what its like and whether you personally would suit this course style.

Nat x

Medical school course structures: is there a difference?

When browsing the websites and prospectus documents of medical schools all across the UK, when describing their course structure often there are many words and phrases which are used: PBL, CBL, Integrated, Traditional. What do they really mean? Are they the same at each medical school? Which one suits me best? Well this blog post will hopefully help anyone confused with the course types and hopefully will point you in the direction of the course type which may suit you best.

I will be covering various different aspects of the course in this post including:

  • Method of delivery
  • Process by which material is covered
  • Clinical exposure

please note that you can only compare and contrast courses within these 3 categories. 

Problem Based learning (PBL) and Case Based learning (CBL).

A lot of medical schools in the UK have adopted the PBL method of teaching, originally pioneered in Canada and first introduced into the UK in the 90’s by Manchester medical school. It has a very similar cousin in terms of course structure, this is the CBL method of teaching, pioneered in the USA and adopted by Cardiff medical school recently in the UK.  

Generally PBL and CBL share many similarities and sometimes its very hard to distinguish between the two teaching methods, hence below I am going to group them together when describing what they entail and how they are delivered. I will address their differences in a later section.

What does a PBL/CBL course structure entail?

Most PBL/CBL courses offered by medical schools are very similar, most run on a 1 week/2 week rotation of problems/cases and they follow a set structure as described below.

Students will meet in a small group with a facilitator for the first session of PBL/CBL. The problem/case will then be introduced to the students and they will be given some time to brainstorm their ideas and generate learning outcomes for the case. Some medical schools provide learning outcomes at the start of the case, some provide them for use at the end of the case and some do not give learning outcomes at all.

The students will then continue the week/2 week period by attending lectures, seminars, small groups and labs to fulfil their learning outcomes. As well as the timetabled activity PBL/CBL requires a great deal of self directed study to answer the learning outcomes, hence self motivation by students is very important in a PBL/CBL styled course.

Students will then meet again in their small group with their facilitator to share their ideas and answer their learning outcomes.

PBL:CBL

Basic outline of a PBL/CBL style course

As I stated before every university has a different take on the PBL/CBL styled course, hence I am going to be doing a blog post specifically about my experiences with CBL as a Cardiff student so you can get the idea of what its really like to study under this curriculum.

Differences between PBL and CBL.

Generally speaking (having spoken to my colleagues at various medical schools) PBL and CBL seem to be more similar than different, but it is important to remember that they are different learning styles and so do have some differences which can be seen.

PBL is described as an open enquiry method which allows students to discuss all topics and tangents of the problem faced with little or no guidance from the facilitator. This can be problematic if the group go off an a tangent, and can sometimes mean that the problem in question will never be answered totally – hence the conclusion may be false. Also with PBL often the learning outcomes are never officially defined and the timetabled teaching may not be as directed to the problems material. One positive is PBL does well to enhance a students problem solving skills.

CBL on the other hand is described as a guided enquiry which targets students to certain areas of the case given to generate specific learning outcomes. Facilitators generally play a more active role in keeping the session on task, and sometimes will bring up topics to guide the session, this means the learning outcomes and outcome obtained from CBL at the end of the case is most likely correct. Timetabled teaching backs up the learning outcomes very well and often official learning outcomes are provided. One downside to CBL is that its less like solving a problem as enquiry is solely directed at a purpose.

Even with saying the above I have seen students who describe PBL exactly the same as how I describe CBL as taught by my medical school, so it completely depends on the school you attend.

Lecture based course styles.

Many medical schools describe their courses as traditional lecture based or even science based, and this can often mean different things at different institutions.

These courses usually have a great deal of focus on the pre-clinical sciences and students follow a rigorous programme of all year lectures, small group and lab teaching. Hence these course types have much less independant study and self inquiry. Lecture/science based courses give students a very strong grounding in the preclinical sciences, but often a lack of early clinical exposure can make the transition from pre-clinical to clinical medicine more daunting.

Process by which material is covered. 

Material can be covered in two main ways for a medicine course:

  • Subject-based/traditional: Material is covered in subjects such as anatomy, pathology, physiology, histology etc. These courses are now very rare as the teaching method is not as fluid as the system-based counterpart, but often this method works very well with traditional lecture based courses.
  • System-based: material is covered by body system, bringing together anatomy, pathology, physiology and histology to cover each body system individually and in turn. This is the much more popular method used nowadays by medical schools as it is more fluid and proves more logical to the students who undertake it. I personally feel this allows for a more focussed approach and prevents confusion.

 

Clinical exposure.

Nowadays the word ‘Integrated’ is found in most medical schools course description. Integrated means that in preclinical years there will be some clinical contact and for clinical years it means that lectures and small groups will be integrated into their clinical practice. 

Most medical schools now boast some form of early patient contact as it is very important for students to link preclinical sciences with their clinical application as well as develop an evidence based approach to learning.

Very few medical schools now have the deeply defined pre-clinical and clinical years.

 

So what do I look for in a course?

All of the above features can be found in various combinations at the medical schools across the UK, For example my medical school (Cardiff) use an integrated CBL systems based approach, whereas when viewing medical schools I also witnessed a traditional lecture based course with barely any integration. But the important thing is identifying which course is right for you.

The best way to do this is to visit university open days and talk to students on the course your interested in, but below is a general guide of what traits tend to suit each course style:

  • CBL/PBL: Enjoys self directed study. Willing to motivate themselves to work outside of timetabled teaching. Likes to share ideas within a group setting to aid their learning. Does not enjoy being ‘Spoonfed’ information to a great extent via lectures. Does not enjoy/feel lectures are a great way of learning for them. Prefers learning within a smaller group. 
  • Lecture based: Prefers being spoonfed information. Dislikes self-directed learning. Feels they cannot motivate themselves adequately for self-directed study.

As for integration, it is really the applicants choice as to whether they prefer early clinical contact or not. Most medical schools do now have some form of early clinical contact and less of a distinction between preclinical and clinical medicine, but there are some courses out there which are more distinct (less integrated).

 

This really is a basic outline of all of the course styles for applicants which may be feeling a little confused when browsing medical schools. As I stated before tomorrow I will release a blog post on what its like to follow a CBL/PBL style course and my feelings on that for anyone interested.