I am currently a graduate entry medical student at Bart’s and The London Medical School. I am in my third year of the four year accelerated graduate entry programme (GEP) course. Before studying Medicine, I completed an undergraduate masters at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL) in Medical Materials (MEng) and achieved a First class honours degree.
The GEP course requires students to learn the first two pre clinical years of the 5-year Medicine course in one year. The next three years of the GEP course are then exactly the same as the last three years of the 5-year course. In the final year, there is also the opportunity to go abroad on an elective placement to study one or more topics of interst to you. At first, I found studying medicine quite a challenge compared to my previous degree. The first year of the course has a strong emphasis on problem based learning (PBL) with two sessions a week, each requiring a couple hours of preparation for. The volume of content was overwhelming at first but I was able to get support from my academic tutor early on, who gave me new practical techniques which really helped. These involved active learning, spaced repetition and using anatomy flashcards. I was also able to form a study group with some friends which made studying less overwhelming. Bart’s have good system in place to support students and monitor their academic performance which is one of the many great things about the university.
Bart’s and The London (Bart’s) is one of the oldest medical schools in the country and has quite a complex history. Essentially, it is the result of a merger between St Bartholomew's Hospital and The London Hospital colleges. This merger began in 1989 and so I constantly get reminded by consultants that they did not attend Bart’s and The London but they simply attended ‘The London’ or ‘St Barts’ medical college. Bart’s then merged with QMUL in 1995 and have been part of the main university since. However, QMUL and Bart’s remain on separate campuses, have separate staff and also have separate student unions. It is no surprise that most staff and students at Bart’s do not identify as members of QMUL. In fact, every year there is a Mergers Cup which is an event where sports clubs from QMUL and Bart’s battle against each other to see who is the better institution. As an ex-QMUL student and current Bart’s student it is always hard to watch these matches but I am happy to say that this year Bart’s won the Merger Cup.
As well as being one of England’s oldest medical schools, it is also one of the countries best medical schools with a high student satisfaction rate. My tips for applying to Bart’s is to make sure you are aware of all the entry requirements before applying and work towards making sure you fulfil them. Study hard to get good A-level grades especially in biology and/ or chemistry. For those applying for the GEP course, try your best to achieve at least an upper second class honours degree or equivalent. If you want to start medicine straight away after your degree, remember to apply in the final year of your course so you can start the September after graduation.
To apply to Bart’s it is also important to have a competitive UCAT score. Check out our blog post on Top 10 UCAT Tips or our UCAT courses if you need help with this. Check you are eligible to apply and if you have a health condition or disability remember to let the medical school know. You will also be required to do a disclosure and barring check and be asked to declare any previous convictions or offences. It is important that you are honest when declaring these as if you do not declare something that comes up on the disclosure and barring check this may cost you your place at medical school. Don’t forget to make sure you fulfil the English language requirements too if English is not your first language.
The last three years of the Medicine degree at Bart’s are the clinical years. These years mainly consist of hospital placements, occasional lecture weeks and little to no PBL. My timetable can change on a weekly basis depending on which hospital I am in and what specialty I am assigned to. We are given a logbook for each placement with a list of tasks to complete and we usually need to get a doctor to sign the logbook as proof we have completed each task. Logbook tasks can include anything from attending a clinic to scrubbing into surgeries. I am currently on my 4-week paediatric placement in Southend Hospital. This is one of the few hospitals outside of London students may be placed at and free accommodation is always provided for students placed outside of London. Here is what I got up to this week:
At 9am, I went to the Paediatric Assessment unit (PAU) to practice taking histories from children and their parents. I took few histories then presented them to the doctor who gave me quite detailed feedback on how I could improve my history taking and what questions I should ask patients in the future. Before lunch, we had teaching in the junior doctor’s office with one of the Paediatric registrars. The teaching in on Non-blanching Rashes and was very interesting and very informative. After lunch, I went to the Paediatric outpatient department to attend a general clinic. Patients presented with a wide variety of problems from back pain to poor asthma control and it was interesting to see how the Consultant managed each case.
At 9am I went to the Paediatric outpatient department to shadow some of the nurses. I had quite a few tasks in my logbook to complete that I knew I could get done with the nurses. I was shown how to weigh children, measure their height and plot their growth which meant I got three things in my logbook ticked off. I also observed the nurses measuring children’s blood pressure and taking bloods which although routine in an adult can be quite traumatic for some kids.
In the afternoon, I attended a Paediatric Basic Life Support (BLS) course and was shown the basics of how to do CPR on a baby and an infant as well as how to respond if a child was choking. In the evening, I managed to get to the gym and get some studying done.
This week I had Wednesday off as we are allowed half a day to focus on our Student Selected Component (SSC). This year my SSC is in the form of an audit project I organised with a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. I met with my project supervisor in the morning and we discussed the next steps for my project.
Wednesday afternoon at Bart’s is protected time off to play sports. I am part of the boat club and so on Wednesday afternoon joined my team mates for a lovely row on the River Thames. There are so many different sports clubs and societies at Bart’s and I encourage you to get involved in one. It is great to keep up fitness levels and definitely helps to combat stress. It is also a great way to meet other students and there is always a social on a Wednesday night at The Griff Inn, our student union bar. I only tend to go on special occasions but it’s nice to know the option of a weekly social with the team is always there!
In the morning, I attended the developmental community clinic and learnt about the developmental milestones children should be achieving and by what age. I learnt how to perform a developmental assessment which was another task I needed to complete as part of my logbook. In the afternoon, we had a follow on from Monday’s teaching session with a different Paediatric doctor, this time the topic was; Causes of Blanching Rash.
On Thursday evenings, I usually go swimming not too far from campus but as I was in Southend this week I gave it a miss. Instead I caught up with some studying and some of my favourite TV shows.
On Friday morning, I attended Grand Round which began at 8:30 am. The focus was on interesting cases seen by junior doctors in the Peadiatric department that week. At 9:30am there was a handover from doctors doing the night shift and then I went with one of the junior doctors to perform newborn baby examinations. This was my favourite part of the Paediatric placement. We examined all the babies that were born in the hospital overnight and that morning to check they were healthy and that there were no issues before letting them go home. On Friday afternoon, I left the hospital early so I could do some work for my part time job at theMSAG. I then went to meet a few of my other medic friends for a drink to celebrate the end of the week.
On weekends I usually spend most of my time relaxing, catching up with friends and studying for any upcoming exams.
I hope you found this useful. Good luck with your application to medical school and I hope you choose Barts!
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