Work in medicine

Advice, information and resources to help you progress your career in medicine

Medicine offers many opportunities such as being part of a respected profession, being of service to your community and saving lives.

Most doctors work in hospitals or general practice,. Others work in areas such as industry, the armed forces, academic medicine and full-time research. You should want to make a real difference and have a concern for the welfare of others as well as good communication and teamwork skills.

Medical training is intellectually and emotionally challenging. You'll need a lot of drive and self-motivation. Work as a doctor is demanding and requires you to be able to cope with pressure every day. It's important at the outset to consider what you're letting yourself in for.

You should convince yourself, and a prospective medical school, that you know what you're facing and show you have the necessary skills and attributes.

Investigate what medical work is really like by talking to professionals including junior doctors and GPs. Ask them about the rewards of the work, their working hours, life-style, and the pressures they face. Speak to graduates studying medicine to find out how they find it.

Applying to study medicine as a graduate

Applications to medical schools are made through UCAS. The closing date is mid-October for entry the following autumn.

There are 3 options for graduates.

A shortened graduate entry course (GEM)

Usually 4 years. Designed specifically for graduates. Some are only open to graduates with a science degree and others are open to graduates with any degree. Some medical schools require specific subjects at A-Level, so visit their websites to find out more.

University Approximate number of places Required aptitude test  Do They Accept Non-Science Degrees?

Barts (QMUL)





Not recruiting for 2023 entry





None required; BMAT (if applying to standard course as well)

Cardiff  Places are only available for students currently on a Feeder Stream course  GAMSAT  No 
Chester  New course - currently open to International applicants only  UCAT  No 

Dundee/St Andrews/ScotGEM




Imperial College London

Course currently suspended while curriculum is being updated



King's College London



















Sheffield  15 (from Widening Participation backgrounds)  UCAT  No 





St George's






GAMSAT for UK applications; GAMSAT or MCAT for International applicants  

Worcester  New course - open to International applicants only  UCAT, GAMSAT or MCAT  Yes 





Pre-entry tests

Most graduate medical schools use standard tests in their application process. These tests are test aptitude rather than educational achievement. Ask each medical school which test they require you to sit. There are 3 main tests:

You'll take these tests under time constraints so consider this when you practise. Network with current graduate medical students and ask them for advice about preparing for admissions tests.

You may find other students' opinions on medical discussion forum websites helpful. The UCAS website also has additional information on admissions tests.

Medical school application process

  • Applications are made through UCAS and the closing date is 15 October each year for courses beginning the following autumn
  • Choose no more than 4 courses – the course code for most of the GEM courses is A101 and it's possible to have a mix of undergraduate and GEM courses within your choices
  • Apply through UCAS as an ‘Individual’
  • Allow at least 2 weeks for your references to be submitted by the deadline – contact your referees to help them provide a relevant reference
  • Explain your reasons for wanting to study the course and why you think that you would make a good doctor in your personal statement – show that you understand what a medical career involves and are aware of current developments
  • Show that you understand what it would be like to work as a doctor and try to get experience in a healthcare setting – this doesn't have to be in a hospital working with doctors as medical schools recognise that this may not be available to all applicants
  • Show an insight into medicine and healthcare gained from general reading and be aware of current issues related to medicine – it might be useful to attend medical careers conferences, or to talk to doctors or current medical students
  • It's essential that you can demonstrate good communication skills and the ability to explain complex information simply and coherently
  • You'll need a logical mind to formulate questions and solve problems
  • You'll need to be self-motivated and able to set your own goals and show independence of thought – you'll also need to work well in a team
  • Show a strong interest in human affairs, and a concern for the welfare of others – can you reassure people, in order to put them at their ease?
  • Be prepared to share what you do in your spare time – not as a list but as a way of highlighting your relevant skills and attributes.
  • You need to be able to communicate, empathise and work well with others – having interests which help you wind down can demonstrate resilience
  • Doctors must demonstrate a high standard of professional responsibility – you should show that you are a reliable and conscientious person

Writing a personal statement for Medical School

Your Medicine Personal Statement needs to be 4,000 characters – which is around 500 words – over 47 lines. Your Medicine Personal Statement should include thefollowing components:

  • Motivation — Why do you want to study Medicine?
  • Exploration — What have you done to learn about it? This could include any wider reading, study or networking than you have conducted.
  • Suitability — Why are you a great fit for Medicine? This would include talking about any work experience, volunteering or extra-curricular activities you have been involved in that would allow you to demonstrate your suitability.

How Can I Get Help With My Personal Statement?

Getting feedback on your Personal Statement is important and you can get support with this.

Medical school interview process

The type of interview structure varies between medical schools. You may experience a traditional panel interview or a multi-mini interview (MMI) format which is being adopted by more and more UK medical schools.

Panel interviews

You may be interviewed by a panel of academics, clinicians and lay people. You may experience more than 1 interview and the length of it can vary from 20 minutes to an hour.

Multi-mini interviews

This format involves a series of stations or rooms where you'll find a scenario or an interviewer to assess a specific attribute. Each station lasts a short amount of time (often 5 minutes). Interviewers will expect you to cover your motivation for medicine, your commitment, your previous caring experience and your ability to reason around an ethical/social issue.

Some medical schools will ask you to work with other interviewees on a group task as part of the selection process. Your personal attributes relevant to studying medicine will be assessed by means of different tasks.

Types of tasks include:

  • A short interview around your motivation to be a doctor
  • An interactive task or role play
  • Data interpretation – for example, interpreting a graph or explaining a numerical concept
  • A Debate task
  • A group task - you may be asked to work with other interviewees

Funding medical school

The funding for the 3 types of courses differs significantly. UK graduate students are currently eligible for more financial support if entering a specific graduate entry programme rather than an undergraduate programme.

Shortened graduate entry course

  • In year one, graduate entry students have to self-fund the first third of their tuition costs and a Student Finance England* loan is available to cover the remaining costs to a maximum charge of £9,250
  • In years 2 to 4, the NHS Bursary pays the first third of tuition costs with a loan from Student Finance England to bridge the remaining costs
  • Graduates can apply to Student Finance England for a full maintenance loan in their first year
  • In the remaining years of the course, you can apply to the NHS Student Bursaries Unit or a means-tested NHS bursary to cover maintenance costs – you can apply for a reduced maintenance loan from Student Finance England

Undergraduate standard entry course (with or without foundation)

  • Graduate students are not eligible to receive a tuition fee loan or maintenance grant regardless of whether or not they have previously received funding
  • Students may be able to apply to Student Finance England for a full, income based, maintenance loan
  • From year 5 onwards, tuition fees will be paid by the NHS Bursary Scheme
  • Students will be eligible to apply for a means-tested NHS bursary to cover maintenance costs from the NHS Student Bursaries Unit, and a reduced maintenance loan from Student Finance England (equivalent to approximately half the full rate)

*Information based on Student Finance England. Wales and Scotland have their own funding arrangements.

Further funding advice

The information here is a guide only. You should seek up-to-date information relevant to your particular circumstances from the sources listed below and check your eligibility against the criteria for bursaries and loans.

Useful resources

Entrance tests


Careers information


Forums and application resources

  • The Medic Portal – advice and resources for everyone interested in a career in medicine
  • theBMJ Student – a monthly medical journal
  • Pastest – includes free UKCAT sample questions
  • Medify – includes free UKCAT and BMAT sample questions and tips for getting into medical school
  • The Student Room – includes forums on medical schools and medicine

Get more guidance on further study after graduation

Get more guidance on further study after graduation

Applying for a PhD

Have a look at our advice on applying for your place in further study.

Female UoP students at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth
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Writing a personal statement for postgraduate study

From why you're interested to where you're heading, explore what to include in your personal statement.

PG student in library
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