By Sebastian Mitchell
Before coming to Imperial College School of Medicine (ICSM), I hadn’t the slightest clue about where I wanted to go. All I knew that along as the uni wasn’t surrounded with fields, end on end, aka all of Lincolnshire (where I’m from), I would be just fine. My university decisions were based on course structure and location. I ended up going to Imperial, due to the pre-clinical/clinical traditional learning split and being in the centre of a city with endless things to do.
However, from being at Imperial for the last 2 years there is so much I’ve discovered, that I wish I’d known before coming. This would’ve made my decision much sounder. Firstly, unlike other universities who have one big student union governing how subjects are run, ICSM has a separate student union just for medicine. They run everything in the medical school from events and note banks, (I haven’t had to write a page of notes from lectures, I’ve just used older years notes and flashcards) to separate medical societies. This meant rather than just getting to know your year, you’d get to speak to many different people from other years for advice. This certainly helps when getting through medical school.
Another thing I wish I had known was just how far away some of the first-year accommodation/placements were. Sadly, with accommodation in London, it will be very expensive (you do get slightly more on the student loan), but one thing I didn’t take account for is travel. Some accommodation is as far as a 45-minute tube ride away from the Hammersmith / South Kensington campus. Furthermore, when you get into the later years (likely you’ll be based around the Hammersmith area) placements can be up to an hour commute to get to. However, all placements are within London though, so no need to stay at other hospitals accommodation, as you can get to most hospitals via commuting).
One thing to note is that the course structure at Imperial has changed and is now a more team-based learning style rather than going heavy on the lectures. As well as that, interviews are now conducted as MMIs rather than the traditional panel interview. With interviews, I’d just advise on being yourself and learning answers to the traditional questions such as “Why do you want to do Medicine”. Go in with a smile and be honest with your answers (nothing worse than getting caught up in a lie). People say Medical school is hard and yes, it is. Being organised is key to getting through,but you have so much time on to do socials and societies, so make sure to take full advantage of this. Best of luck with your application and I hope to see you on the other side!