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So you want to be a Doctor?

Updated: Feb 17

Many of the students who approach us to discuss their university applications do so because they are applying for one of the most competitive and selective courses available – namely Medical School. This year, more than ever, students were motivated to apply to study Medicine; not only because it was a long held dream but with the Covid pandemic continuing to rage and daily bulletins about the heroic feats that Doctors were being called on to perform in challenging times, there was further inspiration to pursue one of the oldest and most respected of professions.

This year, a record 23,710 people applied to study Medicine, up by 6% on last year. However, with a limit of approximately 7,000 places available, there will be many students who will be sadly disappointed.

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For many students their ambition to study medicine is driven by a desire to help people. Sometimes it can be helpful to unpack this statement and work out exactly what they mean by this, as in fact there are many different ways of delivering on this noble goal.

For example, would they be equally as fulfilled helping people by being on the cutting edge of developing new medicines? Look at the scientists developing a corona vaccine around the world who are helping all of us to feel hopeful that we will be able to defeat this virus and regain some semblance of normality. Maybe this need to ‘help people’ can be achieved by working in a laboratory as a research scientist.

For those who are fascinated about how the human body works then it may be worth considering Physiology. This degree overlaps with medicine by studying pharmacology, neuroscience and anatomy. Students will also conduct experiments such as working out how exercise effects how the body functions or what triggers high blood pressure, working in a lab setting dissecting and working with real specimens. Many physiologists go onto to work in hospitals as clinical scientists or go into research.

If you are considering studying medicine, please view our webinar about 'Preparing for Medicine'

Psychology degrees have witnessed a huge growth in applications and it is now the fourth most popular degree. One in 24 of all graduates in 2018 graduated with a Psychology degree. This is partly due to the breadth that this degree offers, with the opportunity to explore this discipline from a developmental, social or educational perspective.

Students who also have a passion for biology may combine this with their interest in psychology and choose to study Neuroscience, specifically focusing on how the brain works. This degree also incorporates aspects of medicine studying anatomy, physiology and pharmacology. This degree can lead to careers in both primary healthcare or research into crucial areas such as neurogenerative diseases or mental health.

Biochemistry is another degree worth considering, particularly for those who have enjoyed studying chemistry for A Level or IB. This course studies the biological processes of life at the cellular and molecular level and investigates the causes of diseases in humans, animal and plants, experimenting and designing treatments and cures.

Contact us on +971 44385276 to find out more about how our expert consultants help students prepare for a Medical school application.

An interest in chemistry may also lead to a degree in Pharmacology; this is the study of drugs and how they impact on the human body. Pharmacologists help people by discovering new drugs, improving current drugs and working out how individuals respond to different drugs. Many of the areas that are covered in medicine are also studied as part of a Pharmacology degree, pathology, biomedicine and physiology are all key modules.

There are many other medically allied degree paths that will give students the satisfaction of helping others. They range from Medical Physics, which uses the concepts, theories and methodologies of physics to treat disease or Biomechanics, studying how the different elements of the body work together to produce movement or Genetics, where the study of the structure and function of genes can lead to breakthroughs in understanding inherited diseases and new medical treatments.

Medically aligned degrees will not only offer a parallel pathway to medicine but in some cases maybe a better alternative to being a Doctor, without the expense of a long training and a realisation that being a Medic can be an overwhelming challenge at times. The additional benefit of an allied degree is that if the burning desire to study medicine remains unquenched, a degree in one of these areas will be the perfect platform to apply for post graduate medicine.


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