Study Medicine, why & how to study
If you want a job where you never stop learning and new discoveries are constantly being made, then Medicine could be for you.
Medical practice is generally defined as the science and practice of diagnosing, treating, and preventing disease. Today, it's carried out by doctors, nurses, surgeons and physicians.
Medicine is a broad term for a variety of practices that have evolved to maintain and restore health by preventing and treating illness, including pharmaceuticals, psychotherapy, and surgery.
This guide focuses on pre-clinical and clinical medicine. ‘Pre-clinical medicine’ refers to underlying knowledge such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry or molecular biology. Clinical medicine is diagnosing and treating conditions in patients. Both are studied as part of a Medicine MB degree.
Medicine as a subject area includes a wider range of degrees than simply medicine and surgery. Undergraduate degrees could include:
- Applied Medical Sciences BSc
- Cardiac Physiology BSc
- Infectious Diseases BSc
- Medicine MB ChB
- Operating Department Practice BSc
For those wanting to practice as a doctor, options for a Medicine MB degree include a preliminary or gateway year (which may be integrated) and January start dates. October application required.
You’ll need top grades for entry to a Medicine MB degree. Typical requirements are from 128–160 UCAS points, although contextual admissions will be lower. They include the qualifications below:
- A Levels: A*A*A–ABB (AAA is common)
- BTECs: not accepted
- Scottish Highers: AAAABB–AAAAB (Advanced Highers: AAA–BBB)
- International Baccalaureate: 42–32
- Universities will usually ask that you have studied: biology and chemistry at A Level (or equivalent)
Other good subjects to have studied include:
- Maths and physics
- General studies and critical thinking A Levels aren't accepted by some unis
Experience that would look good on your application:
- Observation, shadowing or talking to doctors at a GP practice or hospital – if this hasn’t been possible, check for online virtual work experience or videos
- Volunteering or work in a care setting like a care home, hospice, school or service provider, particularly supporting people who have health conditions
- Finding out more about the career and topical issues via the Medical Schools Council or British Medical Journal websites, news sites like the Guardian, TED talks, or podcasts
- Summer schools, if available – check the Medical Schools Council and Sutton Trust websites
Other requirements for this subject include:
- Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
- Admission tests (BMAT, UCAT, or for graduate entry, GAMSAT)
- Due to the nature of this work, you’ll need to complete Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (PVG scheme in Scotland)
Typical modules in a Medicine MB degree may include:
- Medical cell biology and genetics
- Pathological processes
- Health behaviours, musculoskeletal, respiratory and digestive systems
- Evidence based medicine and research methods
- Clinical procedural skills
- Ethics and law in clinical practice
- Mechanisms of drug action
- Biology of disease
- Preparing for patients
Courses are assessed using a wide range of methods across the many years of study, including:
- Anatomy practice
- Online tests
- Reflective essays
- Simulation exercises
- Verbal presentations
- Written assignments
Medicine may be a challenging area to work in, but job satisfaction from a career in medicine is high. Most doctors agree there is no greater joy than curing a patient.
- Medical knowledge and the practical skills to treat illnesses, diseases or long-term health conditions affecting patients
- Understanding of medications, their interactions with the body, and contraindications
- Skills and attributes developed while working in a high-pressure environment
- Communication and team working
- Decision making and leadership
- Managing high-pressure situations
- Problem solving
- Research and reflective practice
- Medical schools and their degrees must be approved by the General Medical Council (GMC) for you to provisionally register as a doctor on completion of your studies
I knew I wanted a career in a field that is dynamic: constantly changing and evolving in terms of its knowledge and capabilities, seeking to question more, discover more, and deliver more, one which requires you to think, be active and on your feet, and to solve problems.
Nick, University of Birmingham
Medicine graduates have one of the highest starting salaries at around £33,500 (in the second year of Foundation training). Specialise, and you’ll earn up to £77,500. Consultants in the NHS are paid £84,500–£114,000, depending on how many years they’ve completed as a consultant.
On the other hand, you might prefer to work outside hospital in general practice. GPs who are salaried are paid £62,000–£94,000. A GP who is partner in a practice is self-employed – which means their working contract differs, but they can also share in the profits of the practice depending on how it performs. An average income might be around £105,000.
Study Medicine, and aside from work as a GP or hospital doctor, options include specialisms, a move sideways into management, education or research. Or you could do something completely different. Roles could include:
- Civil servant (fast stream)
- Clinical research
- Consultant anaesthetist
- Expedition medical officer
- Forensic medical examiner
- Genetic scientist
- Health service manager
- International aid medic
- Medical charity clinical director
- Medical journalist
- Public health consultant
If you have a first degree, you may be able to take a graduate-entry medical course to qualify as a doctor. Most medical schools require a 2:1 and some require an undergraduate degree in a related subject.
Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:
- Cancer Science MPhil/DPhil
- Cardiovascular and Respiratory Healthcare PGCert/PGDip/MSc
- Doctor of Medicine MD
- Genomic Medicine MSt
- Surgery PhD
Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:
- Biomedical Sciences
- Medical Technology & Bioengineering
- Paramedic Science
- Pharmacology & Pharmacy
- Therapeutic Radiographer
If you’ve got any questions about studying Medicine, you can email our experts at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to hear from you!