Studying medicine bilingually
Studying medicine bilingually

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Studying medicine bilingually

How do I apply for medicine?

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The most traditional way of getting into medical school is to apply in the sixth form with GCSE results and those GCSE results score then and an applicant goes through the system of application to the university, interview and a conditional offer made. But also, it’s important to remember that you can get into university with A Level results already in the bag and also after graduating from another degree. You can do the traditional medical school course which relies on having a sound scientific knowledge, but if you haven’t chosen those subjects at GCSE level, it’s important to remember that there’s another course that can be done with a pre-medical foundation year so that people can get into medical school with humanities type subjects. That course isn’t a course for having failed to do well in the science subjects, it’s a course for somebody who’s happened to have chosen inappropriate subjects at an early level.
Then when you get into medical school, we’ll look at the academic aspect, the non-academic aspect as well as an interview programme. The academic side looks at GCSE results, A Level results if they’re already obtained and a degree result as well and it must be at least a 2.1 in another subject. When we look at non-academic achievements, we’re looking at work experience, voluntary work, any experience that shows an ability to work in a team, communication skills et cetera.
So, if we look at work experience, it can be anything. It could be work experience in a hospital, which is a traditional way that medical students come into medical school but it’s important to remember that there are some areas of the country without a district general hospital, for example, Powys in Wales, and those students making an application to medical school can do things like working at nursing homes, special needs schools, nurseries, GP practices, veterinary surgeries, but we’ve also had students who’ve worked in customer services at B&Q or some of the other shops where they have to deal with the general public and have the ability to resolve conflict, and having a student who’s able to do well at working in a team so part of a sports team, a Duke of Edinburgh award, working with children, teaching them how to do sports, is also a good way where you can lead and show the ability to communicate with people of all age groups, really. Then we look at things like membership of the Urdd or Young Farmers, and being able to debate in public speaking competitions. All these are good skills because if you look at GMC standards, what we’re looking at is for somebody who’s academic, who’s able to maintain trust with a patient, who’s able to work within a team and have good communication skills. So, all these things are not necessarily seen on just a week’s work experience in a hospital.
If we’re looking at the type of qualifications, then we score the nine best GCSEs and they must include a science, mathematics and Welsh or English. If A Levels are brought into the mix, then we add the scores of the A Levels on top of those GCSE scores. And in A Levels, so if we’re going to the traditional medical school course, two of those subjects must be science. If they’re not biology or chemistry, then biology or chemistry must have been taken at an AS Level. And when we’re looking at somebody who’s coming into medical school with a degree, they must have had and achieved a qualification of 2.1 or more at degree level to be considered for medicine.
I think from an interview perspective, in Cardiff we’ve changed to a multiple mini interview process, one where it’s like speed dating, where the applicant goes around nine different stations and has a particular question at each station. It makes it fairer, it makes it more transparent and it gives a broader examination of that applicant’s abilities. So, we’re looking at leadership skills, looking at how well they know Wales, looking at their interest in healthcare, looking at their breadth of reading and also how they communicate during each of those stations and by meeting nine different people who are made up of medical staff, academic staff and students, by having relationships with nine different people in their interview process, it should be a fairer reflection of how they are personally. Of course, some people do get nervous after their first interview with the first person out of the nine, but it’s important to move on from that station and start each station afresh. It’s important that applicants to medicine show that they’ve got a breadth of experience. Doctors aren’t all about academic achievement and we want to produce young doctors who have a good work-life balance and show that they are able to communicate well with all ranges of ages within the public and all backgrounds so it’s important for us when we receive applications to medical school to have young people who have a solid background and know their community and are good at academic work and show that they have a good work-life balance and have a stress-relieving outlet, for example, sport or music.
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There are several paths to studying medicine at Cardiff University. Cardiff is the only university where you can study medicine bilingually at an undergraduate level. You can also apply for the graduate medicine degree at Swansea University where some material is offered bilingually. You can:

  • apply straight from A-Levels
  • apply with another degree
  • start with a feeder degree, for example biomedical sciences.

Don’t give up if you don’t have the necessary GCSEs. With a bit of perseverance, you can still follow your dream of studying medicine.

For the most up to date details of the academic requirements for admission, make sure you check online or contact Cardiff Medical School at: [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] to have a chat about your situation.

You will be accepted to study medicine on the basis of three scores:

  • academic qualifications
  • non-academic qualifications
  • an interview.

Exceptional circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis with every application.

In addition to the required academic qualifications, applicants are assessed on a range of other non-academic criteria. You need to be able to show the selectors that you have:

  • insight into medicine as a career; for example, through work experience
  • a caring attitude and sense of social awareness; for example, through voluntary work in a hospice
  • a sense of responsibility; for example, through a role such as team captain or head of a society
  • a balanced approach to life; for example, having interests outside of your studies
  • evidence of self-directed learning; for example the Baccalaureate Individual Investigation
  • team-working skills; for example, through membership of a club.

The important thing is demonstrating what you’ve learnt through these experiences, and being able to articulate what has motivated you to pursue a career in medicine.


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