A Complete Guide To Applying For Graduate Entry Medicine

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to applying to Medicine as a graduate, updated for 2019 entry. This Graduate entry Medicine guide is entirely free as part of our commitment to making high-quality information about a career in Medicine free and easily accessible. It will be relevant to people with a graduate degree in any discipline or for people approaching graduation who are interested in applying to either a standard entry Medicine course or a Graduate Entry Medicine programme. We have a separate guide for students who have not yet graduated who are considering transferring in the middle of their degree to study Medicine. This comprehensive guide to graduate entry Medicine covers:

Is applying to Medicine as a graduate right for you? How to come to a decision, fees, funding, work experience and more.
Ways of applying to Medicine as a graduate. Should you apply to a standard entry Medicine course or a Graduate Entry Medicine course? Differences in course structure, funding, fees, advantages & disadvantages of each, how to decide which one to apply to.
A list of medical schools that offer Graduate Entry Medicine programmes for 2019 entry
2019 entry requirements for Graduate Entry Medicine programmes: what degrees do they accept? Do they have A-level requirements for graduates? What admissions tests do they require?
What do admissions tutors expect from graduate applicants to Medicine compared to undergraduate applicants?
• Although not covered in this guide, our comprehensive Graduate entry personal statement blog article on how to write a graduate medicine personal statement covers in detail how to approach writing a personal statement as a graduate.

Beyond the topics listed above which we discuss in this guide, Medicine Answered are here to help you in every step of applying to Medicine as a graduate. From our free 10-step guide to writing a Medicine personal statement as a graduate, to our interview courses created and delivered exclusively by doctors who received all four offers to study Medicine.

Applying to medical school as a graduate is popular and competitive

Applying to Medicine as a graduate is a well-established and popular entry route into UK medical schools. It attracts over 10,000 applications a year. This figure includes graduates applying to accelerated Medicine courses, which are only open to graduates as well as graduates applying to standard entry Medicine courses, where most applicants are college students. In some other countries such as the USA, Medicine is already a postgraduate course. Graduate entry to Medicine will appeal to people who decide to study Medicine later in life or who were either unable to or unsuccessful in applying as an undergraduate. Note that graduate entry Medicine is NOT the same thing as postgraduate Medicine which is an entirely different qualification available to doctors after completing a medical degree.

How to decide if applying to study Medicine as a graduate is for you?

Here are some important things to consider when deciding if applying to Medicine as a graduate is for you:

People’s working lives are becoming increasingly longer, and it is becoming more common to change jobs and careers. The additional period of study needed to graduate as a doctor needs to be viewed in the context of an expected long working life.
• Studying Medicine will mean you will lose the capacity to work full time during that period. There is a loss of potential earnings to consider while balancing this with the good salary and career progression that a medical career provides. How will you cope financially while studying? After you graduate from medical school, there are many further years of training required to become fully qualified, although this is of course paid. How will you feel retraining from the beginning in a new field, especially, if you are in a senior position in your current field?
Do you have the core values and key attributes required to study Medicine? We cover this in our free blog. This blog does not just list the attributes but explains why medical students need them at the point of entry into medical school and why they make someone a good medical student and ultimately a good doctor. Knowing these traits is useful for your graduate entry Medicine application as admissions tutors will be looking for evidence of these traits when deciding which candidates to offer a place. A successful applicant possesses these traits and crucially knows how to show them to admissions tutors. Knowing these attributes will also give you the opportunity to develop them further using your work experience, extracurricular activities and hobbies.
It is not at all unusual to study Medicine as a graduate. In fact, Medicine has a high number of graduates, mature students and people from many backgrounds. That being said, how will you feel studying alongside people who are mainly younger than you? If you study Medicine somewhere like Warwick Medical School, the students will only be graduates.
• As a graduate, you are very likely to have gained experiences and skills which will help you to study Medicine and become a doctor. You will also have had more time to mature as a person and also academically which should help you when studying Medicine.
• Medicine is a highly rewarding and fascinating career that will allow you to have a profound impact on people’s lives. It is a well-paid and well-respected career with excellent prospects. It is also a demanding career – intellectually and at times emotionally. It will almost certainly involve long shifts, weekend work and night shifts. Are you sure that Medicine is the career for you before you take on this significant commitment? Is your decision to study Medicine a well-considered and firm decision that is appropriate for such a significant undertaking or is it something that is likely to change easily? Have you received high-quality careers advice? Have you spoken to doctors and medical students? Have you had work experience? Have you attended open days?
• When applying to medical school, you are not applying to a speciality such as Surgery, General Practice, Psychiatry and so on. You don’t need to know what kind of doctor you want to be and most medical students do not have a firm idea of this or change their minds multiple times. This is fine, as you will have time to make your decision as you are exposed to more things. However, it is absolutely essential that you are firmly committed to Medicine as a career. As a graduate and especially if you are someone who has changed career, you may want to think more deeply than a school-leaver Medicine applicant would about what kind of medical career you want. You do not want to be in the situation where you have begun to study Medicine and find out that there is another non-medical career that you would prefer.
Medicine is an incredibly diverse career. There are a myriad of specialities and subspecialties which tend to attract different types of people and lead to entirely different working lives from one another. Doctors have many roles you may not have thought about. There are doctors in space, on cruise ships, in jungles, working for FTSE 100 companies, international football teams, NASA and more. However, to study Medicine, you must have the all-round skills and attributes common to all doctors. Even if you are adamant that there is a type of doctor you want to be, you will have to study and then work as a doctor in many different specialities and in different types of jobs, some of which have no connection to your final career.
Do you want to apply to an accelerated Graduate Entry Medicine programme that is four years or a standard entry Medicine programme that is 5 or 6 years? Are you aware of the differences in funding of tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and the NHS bursary? These are significantly different between the two types of course. We cover this in the section entitled: advantages and disadvantages of applying to standard entry Medicine programme instead of Graduate Entry Medicine programme.
Do you meet the requirements for the medical school you wish to apply to? If not, do you have a plan to meet them?
Ways of applying to medical school in the UK as a graduate

As a graduate, you can apply to four UK medical schools via UCAS by the October 15th annual deadline. The Medicine courses you can apply to as a graduate include:

Standard entry Medicine courses – Usually five years or less commonly six years (Oxford Medical school, Cambridge School of Medicine, Edinburgh Medical School, UCL medical school, St Andrews Medical School, Imperial School of Medicine are all six-year programmes, usually because they incorporate a BSc into the Medicine degree so you graduate with a Medicine degree and a BSc. In a small number of these courses, graduates can be exempt from taking one of the six years and not doing the BSc, but in most of these courses it is compulsory). These courses are open to non-graduates and graduates. In a very small number of medical schools, if the applicant is a graduate, they may be required to sit an admissions test called the GAMSAT. The UCAS course code for standard entry Medicine courses is A100 or for Manchester Medical School it is A106
Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programmes – Usually four years or rarely five years (e.g. the 5-year Graduate Entry Medicine course at Imperial College School of Medicine for 2019 entry). Graduate Entry Medicine programmes are open only to applicants with a graduate degree. Several medical schools accept degrees from any discipline for entry to their standard or graduate entry Medicine programmes (e.g. Cambridge School of Medicine, Warwick Medical School, Newcastle Medical School, Nottingham Medical School). The UCAS course code for graduate only Medicine programmes is usually A101 or A109 for Imperial School of Medicine.
Medicine with a foundation/pre-clinical/preliminary year – Called by various names, this is for high achieving students who typically gain three A grades at A-level but not in the necessary science subjects or who do not hold a science degree. It can take the form of a five-year standard entry Medicine course with an additional foundation year at the start (making a six-year course). The foundation year teaches basic Sciences and Maths to around A-level standard and then candidates automatically progress onto the standard entry Medicine course as long as they pass the foundation year. An alternative is sometimes the foundation year is taken as a stand-alone one-year course, and applicants must then apply to Medicine. They may be guaranteed an interview if they meet certain progression requirements. The UCAS code for a Medicine with a foundation year course is usually A104.
A combination – This is applying to some accelerated Graduate Entry Medicine programmes and some standard entry Medicine programmes. Some medical schools will automatically consider an applicant for the standard entry Medicine course if they are unsuccessful at gaining a place on that medical school’s Graduate Entry Medicine programme. Others, such as Oxford Medical school do not do this and also restrict candidates to only applying to either the standard entry Medicine course or the Graduate Entry Medicine course.

Applying to Graduate Entry Medicine versus standard entry Medicine

Now we will consider the differences between a graduate applying to standard entry Medicine courses compared to applying to a Graduate Entry Programme. We then list which medical schools offer graduate entry programmes for 2019 entry and discuss their entry requirements.

The structure of Graduate Entry Medicine courses

Graduate Entry Medicine courses are more intensive than undergraduate courses. These courses rely on the increased maturity, self-awareness and study skills of graduates to be able to complete the degree in this accelerated format. The structure of Graduate Entry Medicine courses varies amongst medical schools, but the most common structure involves graduates being taught a separate accelerated curriculum for 1 or 2 years. They then join later year students (e.g. year 3) of the standard entry Medicine course, and from that point onwards everyone is taught together and graduates together. Graduate entry Medicine at Liverpool Medical School and Oxford Medical school are examples of such an approach.

The point at which most medical schools merge the graduate and non-graduate cohorts is usually at the transition stage between all students finishing the non-clinical university-based phase of the course and then starting the clinical phase which is based in a teaching hospital. This transfer from being university-based to being teaching hospital-based will usually be at the start of the second year of a Graduate Entry Medicine programme and the start of the third year of a standard entry Medicine programme. This timing makes the transition smooth and is a logical point to transition as all students are starting the new clinical phase at the same time and are at the same level of knowledge and skills. This contrasts to the Graduate Entry Medicine programme at Warwick Medical School, which is a four-year course, open to graduates from any discipline. Warwick Medical school does not have a standard Entry Medicine programme, so graduate course students do not merge with standard entry medical students.

Advantages and disadvantages of applying to standard entry Medicine programme instead of graduate entry Medicine programme

Advantages:

• You will have a wider choice of medical schools to choose from as not all medical schools offer Graduate Entry Medicine programmes. For 2018 entry, 15 medical schools offer Graduate Entry Medicine programmes.
• The course is usually one or two years longer making it less intensive.
• Holidays are usually longer.
• A year or two extra is small in the context of how long people’s working lives are in modern times.
• Entry is usually less competitive than Graduate Entry Medicine courses, sometimes significantly so.
• Undergraduate medical students are not just college leavers. Most undergraduate programmes have high numbers of mature students and graduate students. Being a graduate and studying Medicine is not at all unusual or uncommon.

Disadvantages:

• The extra time taken to complete a standard entry Medicine degree. This increases the total cost of studying Medicine and also means you will have an additional year or two where you are unable to work full time, so there is a loss of potential earnings to consider.
• Funding. Funding arrangements for graduates are significantly different between graduates on standard entry Medicine courses and graduates on Graduate Entry Medicine programmes. In summary, far more funding is available for graduates on Graduate Entry Medicine courses compared to graduates on standard entry Medicine courses. We will first discuss the differences in tuition fees and then discuss the differences in maintenance loans and the NHS bursary.

Tuition fees for graduate medical students

Graduates on standard entry Medicine courses will have to pay their OWN tuition fees upfront to the medical school until year 5 of the course (they will NOT receive a tuition fee loan from Student Finance England). From the fifth year, the NHS bursary scheme will then pay for the full tuition fees (this is NOT a loan, they will pay your tuition fee in full on your behalf). To qualify for this, students must be ordinarily resident in England. This is significantly different from Graduate Entry Medicine programmes. In Graduate Entry Medicine Programmes, students in their first year will only have to pay upfront approximately the first £3500 of their tuition fee loan. The rest (approximately £6000) of the tuition fee can be paid for by a Student Finance England tuition fee loan. From year two and onwards, the NHS bursary will pay the first approximately £3500 of the tuition fees for students ordinarily resident in England. A student finance England tuition fee loan can be used to pay the rest of the tuition fees (approximately £6000).

The NHS bursary for graduate medical students

Students on Graduate Entry Medicine programmes and all students on standard entry Medicine programmes who are ordinarily resident in England receive funding from the NHS Bursary Scheme (Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland offer broadly similar schemes for residents of their respective countries). However, Graduates on Graduate Entry Medicine courses receive more funding and earlier. The NHS-bursary scheme gives all eligible students a £1000 non-means tested grant (i.e. irrespective of income). It also provides all eligible students with an additional means-tested grant. On standard entry Medicine courses, all eligible students (which includes graduates) receive this funding in year 5 and year 6 (if there is one) of a medical degree. Graduates on Graduate Entry Medicine programmes receive this funding from year 2 of their course, which means that they will receive more total money over the course and earlier than graduates on standard entry Medicine programmes.

Maintenance loans for graduate medical students

Graduate Entry Medicine students ordinarily resident in England can apply for a full maintenance loan from Student Finance England in year 1. From year 2 onwards they can apply for approximately 60% of a full maintenance loan (this is because the NHS bursary provides some money to all students in the form of a non-means tested grant and an additional means-tested grant). Graduates on standard entry Medicine programmes can also apply for student finance maintenance loans, and like GEM students, receive a reduced maintenance loan in years where they receive NHS bursary funding.

Other sources of funding for graduate medical students

There are other sources of funding available to graduate applicants to Medicine. For example, the BMA (British Medical Association; in simple terms the trade union for UK medical students and doctors) and various other organisations and charities offer loans, grants and scholarships. Universities typically offer these types of funding too. Students can also apply for commercial loans.

Which medical schools offer Graduate entry Medicine programmes for 2019 entry?

For last year’s entry (2018 entry or 2019 entry for deferred applications) 15 medical schools offered Graduate Entry Medicine programmes. Eight of these programmes accepted degrees from any subject. The entry guidelines for 2019 entry are currently being updated by medical schools. We will be posting a table shortly as more information becomes available, listing all the UK medical schools which offer Graduate Entry Medicine Programmes for 2019 entry. The table will also include what admissions tests are required to apply to theses Graduate Entry Medicine programmes, if the medical school accepts degrees from any discipline or just certain degrees as well as A-level and GCSE requirements for graduates.

How do admissions tutors view graduates applying to medical school differently to college leavers?

Maturity

Admissions tutors will view graduates as having had more time than college applicants to mature and to develop skills, life experiences and accomplishments. Admission tutors will typically assess graduates in comparison to the calibre of other graduates, even if they are applying to a standard entry Medicine course.

Academic past and current academic capability

The fact that some people mature academically later in life is a well-documented phenomenon. This can mean that older exam results such as GCSE’s and A-levels do not reflect a candidate’s present academic capability. Different medical schools will view older pre-degree results differently. Some still have strict requirements for these results such as Graduate Entry Medicine at Cambridge. Others have few requirements (usually a pass at GCSE Maths and English) and focus on the newer degree results. Some even have no GCSE or A-level requirements for Graduate Medicine applicants. Newcastle Medical School’s Graduate Entry Medicine programme states that A-level and GCSE’s have no direct bearing on the decision to interview or offer a place to applicants. Oxford Medical school state that they do no rigidly look at A-level and GCSE results, recognising that some students are late bloomers, but that they need convincing evidence of academic excellence and that entry is very competitive (you need to consider that almost all other candidates will have excellent pre-degree results). Oxford’s Graduate Entry Medicine programme also requires GCSE biology or double science with possible exceptions for applicants with degrees with a significant amount of bioscience.

Regardless of the policy on pre-degree results, at the time of application, you must have excellent academic abilities and be able to demonstrate this to admissions tutors. This is particularly important for graduates applying to accelerated graduate Medicine programmes.

Academic awards and achievements

Graduate applicants to medical school will have had more opportunities than school leavers to earn awards, publications, presentations and so on. If you have these, then they should be mentioned in your personal statement or reference.

Real work experience & transferable skills

Being under 18 acts as a major barrier for many college applicants to medical school from obtaining medical based work experience. As a graduate, gaining medical work experience should be easier. Additionally, graduates applying to medical school are more likely to have had full-time jobs than non-graduates and may have had a previous career. Graduates applying to medical school must be able to show how their previous degree or career strengthens their medical school application. Even non-health or non-science related degrees and careers will have transferable skills, and it is your responsibility to highlight these to admissions tutors.

Your motivations to pursue a medical career as a graduate

Admissions tutors will want to know why you have chosen to study Medicine now and if applicable why do you want to change your career? Graduate applicants coming from science or health-related background will usually find it easier to explain a pathway to wanting to study Medicine. Graduates with what appear to be unrelated degrees (e.g. architecture) can still be as successful as graduates with health or science background; they will simply need to spend more effort in showing that they have sound reasons for studying Medicine and that they have transferable skills from their previous background.

In some non-medical degrees, admissions tutors main focus is to see if an applicant has the right grades and a basic interest in the course. This is certainly not the case for applying to Medicine where admissions tutors will scrutinise a candidate’s motivations (are they genuine and sustained over a period or merely a phase which may pass?) and interest (are they based on a realistic understanding of a medical career?) for wishing to study Medicine. This is particularly true for graduate applicants. This is because Medicine as a subject and a career is a significant undertaking and one with many privileges and responsibilities. Motivated candidates with a passion for the subject are far more likely to excel in a long degree like Medicine and have a fruitful career than candidates with a weak interest in Medicine who could drop out in the face of even minor setbacks. Medicine also requires a career-long commitment to learning new knowledge and skills and maintaining existing ones. A motivation and passion for Medicine helps greatly in this.

You can show that you have a genuine interest and motivation in Medicine that is based on research and experience, not merely a strong ambition to study Medicine, in several ways. In your personal statement and interview, it is essential that you can backup reasons for wanting to study Medicine with examples of how your experiences and research have confirmed your ambitions. You should also show how you possess the characteristics needed to be a doctor. They key is to “show not tell”. Saying how a 6 month once a week placement at a nursing home whilst studying and having a part-time job demonstrates your reliability, and organisation skills is “showing” tutors that you have these skills. It is far better than “telling” admissions tutors that you have these skills by merely claiming to have them with no evidence.