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An update on medical school admissions 

The Medical Schools Council realises that the decision to cancel formal examinations across the UK has caused a degree of anxiety for applicants to medicine. We would like to reassure applicants that medical schools will treat the grades awarded to you this year in the same way as qualifications awarded in any other year. Graduate entry schools are also monitoring the situation in relation to the cancellation of final examinations associated with undergraduate degrees.

Furthermore, all medical schools will be following the rules set by UCAS in relation to applications. If you meet the conditions of your offer you will have a place at medical school.

There are a number of issues that the education sector as a whole is yet to resolve. These include how appeals against calculated grades will work across the UK and when students will be able to sit exams if they are unhappy with their calculated grade. The impact of these issues on medical admissions is unclear but medical schools are actively engaging in these discussions and are working hard to develop solutions that are fair to applicants. As we get further information we will share this with you. You should also continue to check the website of the medical school you hold an offer with.

Gaining relevant experience to study medicine 

It is a difficult time to try and gain relevant experience in healthcare. The NHS is focusing on dealing with the pandemic, outreach programs have been put on hold, and most paid employment opportunities have been stopped too.

In these circumstances, first time applicants to medicine will all be in the same situation. All medical schools are aware that the opportunities open to you have been affected and will take this into account. Consequently, medical schools will have to adapt their expectations to the situation applicants find themselves in.

You should make sure to check the medical school's website for updates on work experience. Additionally, you should keep in mind that clinical work experience is not generally a requirement for applying to medical school in any year.

It is important to remember why medical schools look for work experience in an application; this in turn can help you think of the numerous ways that you can demonstrate that you have acquired relevant experience. They want to see that you understand what a career in medicine involves. Work experience, and other related experiences, are only as valuable as the way you talk about them. While you will be expected to show some understanding of what it is like to be a doctor, part of this involves demonstrating that you know what it is like to work in a responsible role, particularly with the public.

The Medical Schools Council has published guidance for gaining relevant experience during the pandemic. The guidance includes practical tips on how to gain relevant experience in healthcare, including recommendations on: 

  • Keeping a reflective diary on what is happening in the news
  • Making use of online resources which provide an insight into the health sector 
  • Volunteering in your spare time, if you are able to

Read our full guidance here.

Resources for students 

For those considering studying medicine, there are some free online resources available that will give you a taste of what working in healthcare is all about.

  • Brighton and Sussex Medical School has created a free virtual work experience course which explores several different medical specialities
  • The Royal College of General Practitioners has created an interactive platform called Observe GP which highlights the many different aspects of working in primary care
  • The NHS Health Careers website provides insight into different careers and specialties within the health sector
  • The King's Fund offer a free online course which provides insight into how the health system in England really works