By Wes McLoughlin
I started at Edinburgh in 2017 and have thoroughly enjoyed the three years that have followed. I
will encourage anyone thinking of studying medicine to consider applying here!
Edinburgh: A multicultural capital
Edinburgh is a compact capital city with just over 500,000 people, and very walkable, buses run regularly to all parts of it. Unlike other places in Scotland (Glasgow!), it doesn’t rain too much. It has a diverse population, so you’ll get exposure to all types of patients. Most of the city has cycle lanes and nature is at your doorstep, with one popular park being the extinct volcano that is Arthur’s Seat. Being the second-most visited city in the UK, there’s all sorts of attractions, food and experiences to try. Coming from England, one of the best things I’ve learnt is how to ceilidh! (a must try!). Whilst Scotland is similar to the UK, it has its own unique flair. When holidays roll round, in the summer there’s the month-long fringe, the military tattoo and in winter the large Christmas Market – you’ll have no shortage of friends visiting!
Edinburgh Medical School: International, friendly and close-knit
One of the first things I noticed in freshers, was how friendly everyone on the course was. Because it’s not too big (~200), you’ll know most medics in your year in no time. Almost all year groups are tight-knit and supportive. Whilst the course is more traditional, there is some PBL and there’s early exposure to patients with weekly GP visits. We also have AcFams (academic families) where Y2 medics adopt Y1 medic “children”, giving them advice, celebrating adoption/weddings with (optional) clubbing and giving them food! Among many balls, there’s the annual Medic one (surprisingly affordable at £25-30) with a ceilidh, food, champers etc.
Opportunities: manifold and accessible
Intercalation runs in 3rd year, with the choice of more than 20 degrees. Whilst, other medical schools run this, the benefit of it being compulsory is that everyone gets the chance to experience research and people don’t have to leave friends etc to get an extra degree (worth extra points in FY1!). There are so many opportunities, especially with all the world- class research going on in the university. Most lecturers are extremely approachable and helpful. I’ve been fortunate to complete two summer research projects, presenting them at conferences and there’s even vacation scholarships available for research (£250 pw, 6-8 wks). Other opportunities are around joining one of the 30+ medic societies, 300+ student societies or starting your own! There are also large-scale public events that you can take part in, for example I was a panellist on the annual Edinburgh Medical Debate (Nov 2019) that sold ~900 tickets.
Admissions: preparation and getting in!
Whilst the admissions process has changed a bit since I applied, especially with the addition of interviews. I think the same general advice can be applied. Basic preparation for interviews can include getting a parent, teacher or friend to ask you questions, and practicing discussing ethical scenarios (eg. 4 pillars of ethics), work experience and views. When it comes to personal statements, being concise is valuable – for each sentence ask: (i) why is this important, (ii) what do I want the admission tutors to get from this, (iii) am I repeating myself, (iv) is it necessary? Beyond this, revising for exams and prepping for the UKCAT should be more than enough. Also, if you don’t get in straight away, don’t lose heart. Many medical schools, like Edinburgh, also have a waiting list if others don’t make their offers!