I am currently a third-year medical student at the University of Manchester and am based at Royal Preston Hospital. I transferred over to Manchester after completing my preclinical years at the University of St Andrews.
To this day St Andrews is one of my favourite places in the world. The scenic town has incredible architecture and gorgeous beaches. It is the perfect place to be when you’re stressed about your course or exams as there are few things that a stroll along the beach cannot help with.
One of the aspects of the course that aided my learning was its examination structure. Students are regularly examined which means that you must keep on top of your work throughout the year. This style is not suited to everyone, so I’d recommend aspiring medical students to look at the examination structure of their chosen universities when choosing where to attend. In addition, at St Andrews you follow a spiral curriculum which means that you re-cover topics from previous years to consolidate and build on your existing knowledge. This was also an essential aspect of me being able to build the foundation of my knowledge.
Following the three-year St Andrews course, students graduate with a BSc Honours degree in Medicine; from here there is a selection of partner medical schools that students can choose from.
Although the course at St Andrews is defined as a student’s preclinical years, we all still had exposure to the clinical environment throughout our time there and were confident in our clinical examination skills by the time we graduated. In addition, the course is dense, so students can feel reassured that they have covered all the relevant material when entering their partner school once their time at St Andrews is over.
Royal Preston Hospital
The thought of leaving St Andrews and transferring to Preston was initially daunting. However, everyone I spoke to who had followed the same path reassured me that I’d be fine! In many ways Preston and St Andrews are completely different, but surprisingly I was able to find many positive similarities.
Preston has many redeeming qualities, the most important to me being the sense of community. Everyone in the hospital is incredibly friendly, and you build strong friendships with your peers. Following my long summer, I was worried that I’d go into my clinical years having forgotten everything. However, although this is what happened, the staff and other students at the hospital help ease you in, and slowly you find yourself becoming more confident in the clinical environment.
1. Look at the course structure – if you prefer cramming at the end of the year rather than throughout the year, find a university that reflects this style of examination. Examination results are far from everything, but you want your results to accurately reflect your ability.
2. Find a city or town that you love. You are most likely going to spend 5-6 years in the same place, so you want to be somewhere that excites you.
3. Don’t compare yourself to others- you’ll find your own groove and your own way of learning that works best for you. Some people are much quicker at this than others, but university is very different to A-Levels so if it takes a bit of time don’t stress; I’m four years in and I’m still trying to find the most efficient way of studying!