Updated: May 5, 2020
By a Birmingham Student
I couldn’t be happier at Birmingham Medical School. The support from the course is so reassuring and the whole school cohort feels very inclusive. This is certainly something that’s been highlighted over the Covid-19 period, where hundreds of students came together to support relief efforts. It feels here that we are all working together to strive for a better future for patients, to work cohesively to support an already incredible NHS and above all enjoy what we do, clinically and otherwise.
Patient contact is hugely important here at Birmingham. The medical school is just footsteps away from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital: the royal centre of Defence Medicine. Furthermore, being situated within the largest healthcare region in Europe, means placements are extremely invaluable to see large variety of patient cases. Getting to placements couldn’t be better, Birmingham possessing the only on-campus university train station in the country. The course itself takes place at the state-of-the-art medical building within the Edgbaston Campus. It is a traditional course, and hugely lecture-based- with the emphasis in the first two years to have a sound understanding of each body system. This is in preparation for clinical teaching at the teaching hospitals for the remaining three years. There is also plenty to do in Birmingham. From the Bullring shopping centre, countless number of restaurants and bars, and a bustling nightlife- what’s not to love.
The school itself has a great MEDSOC with numerous societies to get involved in. Having a social life with your peers is so important to provide support when you need it and also a light relief from an intense degree. Having friends in older years also allows for a bit of perspective and advice. When applying to study medicine, it felt very overwhelming, daunting and unknown. Despite these factors, I think the most important thing I would like to have known if I could go back, is to choose a place that you feel comfortable and somewhere that suits your needs outside of the medicine course. For me, this means having an engaging and social rock-climbing society and having activities I can keep myself busy with when I need a well-earned break from the course. Some of the most talented doctors in our time aren’t reputable because they went to the highest-ranking Medical School, and I disagree with the top priority being to choose somewhere that has the best course or the best reputation. At the end of the day, you’re qualifying as a doctor and no amount of prestige will make one doctor better than another. This is not to say that high ranking universities aren’t desirable, and students should aspire to be at a university that’s right for them.
Tips I would suggest to prospective students:
- Study hard for interviews and be prepared. Being up to date with current medical affairs, guidelines, etc. come in handy to talk about when you’re stuck for an answer as it shows your enthusiasm
- Being a doctor involves continuous learning and development- get into the mindset of self-motivating in order to proactively learn new things. Medicine can be a very tough degree at times, and you need to have an end goal in mind to spur you on when you’re feeling less engaged
- Don’t believe everything you read. I remember hundreds of rumours going around when I was applying about what interviews were like, what questions were asked, how they ranked you, etc. As much as this may be fun gossip, it’s not going to relieve your anxiety about getting offers. Try to filter the information that you need and keep your head above the water! Above all, I would recommend working hard, earning your place at med school, but at the same time keeping your mental wellbeing and personal passions at the forefront of your decisions.