Welcome to the 7th week of the Virtual Medicine Open Day: giving you an insight into each of the UK medical schools and the opportunity to ask current medical students about the realities of studying there!
This post is written by Sara, a first year medical student at King’s College London.
I’ve just completed my first year at KCL and it’s been incredible. I’ll be sharing the experience so far including the teaching, what a week looks like and tips for applying.
- An Overview of Teaching Methods
- Typical Timetable of a 1st year Medical Student at King’s
- The Non-Medical Stuff
- 3 Top Tips For Applying to King’s
An Overview of How We Are Taught
So first year/stage one is heavily focused on the basics of biomedical sciences/medicine. Some of the modules covered include cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, immunology, respiratory physiology, cardiac physiology and anatomy. As KCL uses an integrated approach, we do get clinical teaching during first year but do not attend any placements.
- Lectures: the main method of teaching. All the lectures are recorded and put online onto lecture capture shortly after the lecture which is really useful if you need to re-watch a lecture.
- Tutorials: these consist of small group teaching (about ten students). You’re given a worksheet to complete before and discuss the answers and reasons as a group with a lecturer present.
- Practical sessions: these depend on the module. So for anatomy, we have cadaveric dissections from one session to three sessions per week. With the genetics module, its more lab based where we learn basic techniques such as polymerase chain reaction and western blotting.
- Clinical skills: we learn the basics at this stage such as taking a blood pressure reading, oxygen therapy, urine dipsticks, prescribing and drug administration.
A Typical Timetable of a 1st Year Medic
The timetable does vary significantly week to week, but here’s an example:
The Non-Medical Stuff
King’s has five campuses: Strand, Guy’s, St Thomas’, Waterloo and one in Denmark Hill. During first year, you’ll mainly be at Guy’s Campus which is located right next to London Bridge station. Being located in central London there is always lots to do. The transport links are great so you can get around easily. There’s so much to explore nearby. Tate Modern and Sky Garden are both about a fifteen minute walk away. Borough market is located right next to the campus and there are plenty of food options there and loads of other places nearby. It is pretty easy to find food for any diet type which I know can sometimes be an issue. Overall there are a whole bunch of tourist-like things to do with your new uni friends.
There are a whole range of societies that you can join such as those focused on fundraising, sports societies, cultural, political, volunteering and lots more. These are great for meeting people that aren’t on your course. I personally really enjoy the medical societies as they can be really informative and you get to learn more about specialities early on.
Pros of Studying at King’s
• Cadaveric dissections are the highlight of first year. These are done in small groups so you are able to learn a lot. You can ask your anatomy demonstrator additional questions if you didn’t understand part of the lecture.
• Location means there is always something new and exciting to do. I’ve not yet had a dull moment when it comes to socialising and finding new restaurants/cafés.
• The lecturers are approachable and there is a great support system. For example, you are given a tutor for the year who you meet up with three times a year and discuss any problems you may be having or just for a general catch up.
Cons of Studying at King’s
• There is no first year clinical exposure which is a negative if you’re wanting to get into the clinic as soon as possible. There are other ways to get clinical exposure. For example they run the PEEP scheme (shadowing a psychiatrist) and the emergency medicine society run a program where medical students can observe shifts with the London Ambulance service. Nevertheless, I prefer having a year of learning to ensure I know enough and gain some confidence before getting onto placement.
• Not everyone will find tutorials useful but they are compulsory to attend. This is because the worksheet can sometimes be pretty simple and due to time constraints it can be difficult to attend tutorials. Having said that, I know some people find discussing the topic in a group helpful so it depends on the individual.
3 Top Tips For Applying to King’s
I suppose these can be useful for any med school but the application process for MMI unis in general is quite similar.
1. Make sure you learn a bit about KCL just in case it comes up during an interview. Research the campuses, the teaching methods and about the location.
2. King’s use the MMI method of interviewing. In terms of preparation, I’d suggest brainstorming some answers to typical medical school questions and research recent hot topics in the field. Also, it is important to not allow how one station went affect the next.
3. With the personal statement, I mentioned GP, hospital and pharmacy work experience/volunteering. I know that they focus on what you have learnt from the experiences rather than how many you can list though.
Thank you Sara for such an interesting insight into King’s! Find out more about her on Instagram:
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