By Paul Defty
· Leicester is 2 years pre-clinical – ‘lecture based learning’ with equal guided group-work and small amounts of set self-study. Most of the content comes from lectures and is then reviewed in group work and some dissection when appropriate. This is then supported by patient-contact. We go on clinical placements that range from the Royal Infirmary in Leicester to the far corners of the East Midlands.
· 3 years of clinical placement, based in hospitals or GP, with roughly 6 days of scheduled teaching on campus which have end of year exams
· UNITS - I wouldn’t worry too much about this because medical schools nationally have to meet a set of guidelines at some point within the course. At least for Leicester only having a brief understanding about the course like phase 1 (years 1&2 - pre-clinical) and phase 2 (years 3 - 5) is enough.
· A theme throughout the 2 years is population and social science - learning about public health and studies. There are also a few standalone days of teaching which are used to cover specific things such as stroke week or 2 days on medical ethics and law.
· Technology is a key selling point at Leicester. All first- year students are provided with iPads, which is a really effective method to make comprehensive notes. The George Davies Centre is teeming with the latest technology to create a buzzing student atmosphere.
· The theme of technology continues in the dissection room that is equipped with Apple TVs and recording equipment- as well as being given the privilege to consolidate what we learn in textbooks. There is no better way to learn anatomy. Also, take some time to read about Mrs Horace- it is certainly something Leicester has over other medical schools across the country.
· A major part of medical school is practicing our clinical skills in the
state-of-the-art simulation centre where we have the freedom to make mistakes and iron them out before clinical years begin.
What are exams like?
· In years 1 & 2 we have January and summer exams - which does mean revising over Christmas but also some marks in the bag before the end of year exams - the years are weighted more towards the summer exams.
· There’s SBA (single best answer / multiple choice) done on the iPad we’re given and SAQ (short answer questions - no more than 6 marks I think) on paper. I think they’ve introduced a formative essay on reflection into year 1 and have done in year 2 as well though this might change.
· Alongside the summer exams there’s 2 slightly different visual tests: the IUA and IUPA and in year 1 a formative OSCE and year 2 a summative OSCE. The IUA stands for integrated understanding assessment and IPUA is integrated practical understanding assessment, the IUA is a multiple-choice anatomy & picture based from other units. The IPUA is similar but spoken and covers year 2 units with links to year 1 answers are probably a bit longer because you have to say them.
How do I feel?
· It’s fair to say studying medicine is testing and very stressful at times. But overall, I have had a brilliant time. Being a medic is great. I especially love the fast pace that the course is taught at, and how we are continuously building on what we learnt from the previous semester.
· I find the content which we are taught interesting (mostly) but our 3rd semester was fast paced due to its volume, which unfortunately is necessary to fit everything in and I have heard of other med schools having a ‘worst semester’. The upside of semester 3 it that it is very interesting because we study 5 body systems and have been able to practice working in the first 2 semesters.
· Being a medic is more than just studying. For the first 2 years, I have still had plenty of time to play for the University and Medics badminton team and to experience the Leicester nightlife. Everyone is really approachable, and the size of the year-group makes us quite tight-knit. Highlights of the social calendar include the formal MedSoc balls, and the weekly sports socials.
· Leicester is a small city, but it has so much the offer. It is very multicultural, and the food-scene is phenomenal. For instance, the Golden Mile is the go-to place for a curry.
· The majority of student halls are in Oadby which is about a twenty minute bus-ride from uni. The student village is super-chilled and provides a great opportunity to meet friends from other courses.
· The location of the university is something I looked at when applying. It’s central location meant it is easy to go home. This does only happen once a semester, but it certainly cuts down on the 4-hour trips across the country I would have made otherwise.
When applying make sure you meet the minimum entry requirements & do some research to try and find out whether you’re likely to get an interview based on your results / UCAT. The information you find may not be entirely accurate, so check a variety of resources. From my experience Leicester was fairly open about what the interview stations were going to be like and what they would be looking for in a personal statement.
Tips and Advice
· Be prepared to work hard (when you need to)
· Reflection is fairly important as it shows you’ve thought about what you’ve done and why it’s important
· Ask for help if you’re struggling - with work, in general or for any reason
· Be honest – definitely at the interview, don’t be afraid to say if you don’t know something but think about it first.
· Join a society - and maybe a non-medic one too, good to stay busy, probably have more fun, and make some friends who can talk about things which aren’t medicine
· Start things early - whilst applying that’d be personal statements and interview prep. For me, that doesn’t mean finish them early just start doing a little bit a few months before
· Practice saying things - whilst it can be easy to think you know certain things, saying them out loud will help you get ideas out of your head & show any gaps
· Start reading around the subject. What interests you? Is it a book about a heart-surgeon? Maybe a psychiatrist? Explore the field.