Studying Medicine Abroad as a Canadian student: My Journey
Considering studying medicine in the UK? Canadian Medical student Manasa has some top tips and advice on how to make the best application possible.
Choosing medicine is a big decision
Choosing to study medicine was a difficult decision as it’s a career that is all about lifelong learning. It’s a long qualification and training process and is in a general a rigorous degree. However, I had the additional decision to make on whether I wanted to qualify in the UK or Canada.
Studying in Canada meant that you first need to complete your undergraduate degree and then apply for medical school. Following the 4 years in med school would be a variable number of years of residency training. One of the things that appealed to me about the UK was that you could go to medical school right after high school. However, a medical degree would be 5 years instead of 4. After those years, two more years as a foundation doctor and then the route to a consultant in a desired field would start.
Both options had their own ups and downs. For example, it would be around the same amount of tuition to study (with studying in the UK being slightly pricier). However, the final thing that made me choose the UK was that I always wanted to study abroad. Studying the degree, I was passionate about, coupled with doing something I have always wanted to do, seemed to be the best decision.
Do your research
However, I will say that the process to start studying in the UK was lengthy and there were many steps to it. The first thing I did was research. I read articles about what other students did, I watched YouTube videos of people who were applying to study medicine in the UK (Journey2Med, KharmaMedic – also Canadian, Faye Bates and Ali Abdal to name a few) and I also asked around to some friends who I knew went on the same path.
I wanted to make sure I knew all the information and some tips and tricks about the application process.
Steps to applying
Most of the articles and videos I watched focused more on the application process and acceptance rather than the visa process.
Get a UCAS Account
From all that research, the first thing is to create a UCAS account. Everything in the UK is set up nice in terms of university. Everyone makes one application through UCAS, they select the schools they want and then UCAS will send their application to all of them.
The second task was to fill out the information regarding grades. Since the grading system for high school is a bit different, you have to go onto Queen’s website and see which grades they require as a requirement. For medicine, in 2021 they required certain grades in Chemistry and Biology.
For this year, it would be best if the admissions office was contacted directly to know which grades you need. You can also ask your teacher for your predicted grades if you are applying while in grade 12. You most likely will need to get a certain mark in your diplomas to get unconditional acceptance (they might give you a conditional acceptance at first).
Take time over your personal statement
I cannot recommend enough how important it is to start your personal statement as early as possible. The whole idea (for medicine) is why you want to be a doctor and what skills you’ve learned throughout your experiences that will help you. There are tons of resources online that walk you through how to put your answer in a cohesive way.
I recommend using two to three personal experiences (at least one of them being work experience) to show why you want to go into medicine.
Pass the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test)
Queen's Medical school weighs up everything in your application relatively equally, so I wouldn’t worry too much if you got a lower UCAT score than you expected. There are plenty of resources that you can use to study for the UCAT (yes, you can study for it) like PassMed, Modify and there’s tons of practice questions online.
The most challenging part of the UCAT aren’t the questions but answering the questions in a time crunch. It’s a 2-hour exam to answer questions from 5 different topics. I recommend using online software to practice for this exam as they will replicate what it’s like in the best way (rather than books) and get you used to the online calculator.
Ace the interview
Finally, you have the interview left and this was the easier part in my opinion. You still have to learn to answer questions quickly while also drawing on a lot of your knowledge. Additionally, you should learn about the NHS and how it works. There are courses that you could take that boil down the main points you need to know like famous cases, the ethics pillars (and examples) and many more.
After you have all your knowledge behind you, the next step is to just be yourself and smile! Whether its an online or in person, the interviewers want to see what sets you apart from the rest of the candidates, and that could be as simple as asking how their day was.
Applying to medicine itself is a scary thing but don’t let the statistics make you nervous!
Try your best and have faith in yourself!
You’ve worked hard and come all this way, studying medicine at Queen's is absolutely a possibility if the effort is put in.
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Medicine | Undergraduate Student | Canada
I’m a 20-year-old international student from Canada and currently studying Medicine. I figured the best way to combine my love for science, travelling and working with people would be to do international medicine. Outside school, I do classical dance, sculpture and biking!