Medicine @ Leicester | Q&A
These questions have been answered by Muhammad Lorgat and Liv, both 2nd year medical students at Leicester.
Muhammad’s questions + answers:
What do they look for in an application?
I’ll give a short run down of the main points, however, if you would like this in much greater detail, do check out the website, there’s a bunch of great resources on there.
Everyone has to meet the minimum academic requirements, i.e. grades at GCSE(B or 6) and predicted A Levels(AAA), and the UCAT(at a 50:50 weighting).
Therefore Leicester is quite a balanced application process, if you’ve done fairly well in your GCSE’s and UCAT.
Graduates must have at least an upper second class honours, with B in Chemistry or Biology in A Level.
There are also a range of requirements for other situations, including those that have done IB, taken resits, or Access applicants(again check the website for more detailed info)
Your UCAT result is given a score, for example a person with more than 3200 gets 32 points, and between 2500-2549 gets 25 points.
8 GCSE’s are scored(Eng Lang, Chem and Bio plus 4 others, out of 32) with an A* or 8/9 getting 4 points, an A 3 points, and a B 1 point.
For graduates, there is a similar scoring system, if you got an A/A* you get 10 points, and an obtained 1st class degree gives 5 points versus 3 points for a 2:1 obtained.
Personal statements do not usually count to the scoring of applicants, except in the situation of a borderline candidate or a tie-break. Among the things they would look for is the motivation to study Medicine, commitment, and work experience.
Interviews are MMIs with 8 timed stations, and 1 admin station. They assess verbal and written communication, problem solving, and listening, amongst other qualities.
Just for illustration, the minimum score to be offered an interview for 2019 for home/EU undergraduates was 54.5(out of 64) and those with an interview score of 95 and above(out of 135) were given an offer.
What’s medicine with a foundation year like?
I didn’t do a foundation year, so I asked my friend Muhammad Patel for his thoughts:
Majority of the foundation year reintroduced and built on ideas that were taught during college, so it managed challenge my learning while keeping me interested in the content being delivered.
The great thing about the foundation year was that they introduced patient contact, which I was not expecting. They gave us independency in communicating with our allocated patient which gave us a true sense of what being a medical student is like.
Going into the foundation year I was afraid that we may not be treated as medical students, but I was glad to see that what the course leads had planned was a contradiction to my worries.
Do you get clinical exposure within the first year?
Yes you do. Although the first 2 years are ‘pre-clinical’ years(and years 3-5 being all clinical placements) there is some clinical exposure.
They call it the VECE-very early clinical experience. You spend 1 week each in a hospital and a GP practice. These can be in, or out of, Leicester. The quality of learning experience can vary depending on where you go, the ward you are at, the doctors there, and the patients and clinics that you get to see.
Apart from this, all consultation, diagnostic, and history taking skills are done in CHDD sessions, using either actors acting as patients, or role playing within our groups.
Clinical skills such as taking blood pressure and other basic observations, and first aid training, are done fairly early on in the course too.
Does Leicester use PBL teaching?
I don’t think Leicester’s teaching is advertised as just PBL, but more of an integrated model.
In the first 2 pre-clinical years at Uni, we generally have lectures, and then group work (or dissection) afterwards.
The sessions usually weave into each other, and build on previous knowledge too.
Our group work sessions are more structured, this can include what you may think of as PBL-like situations and cases. But rather than our learning being guided by a case, say every week, we have certain topics or Units of study, and the cases fit around those.
How do you find the belbin group work system?
Honestly, the Belbin group work system has been my favourite bit of the first 2 pre-clinical years at Leicester.
I think Leicester is the only Uni that uses this system to assign the groups, and the test you take before starting assesses your team working and learning styles, and hopefully puts you in a group with people that can complement that style.
Obviously, there is variation in how people find it, but in my case, it was very positive.
I got to meet, hang out, and become friends with people I otherwise maybe wouldn’t have. We have a great team spirit of getting the work done, but also being slightly chaotic and crazy with our various conversations and tangents.
My Belbin will definitely be one of the most memorable things that I will take away from my Leicester Medical School Experience.
From the group work, do you set learning objectives/assignments and then go through them again or is it more of a consolidation task?
Group work is more of a consolidation task. Of course, there is variation between different Units in the specifics, but overall there is a general way that group work is structured.
We have a workbook for every Unit, and for each group work session there is a set of tasks and questions, which can mostly be easily completed within the allotted time.
For example, the CardioVascular System Session 10 on Heart Failure will have a case of a patient with left-sided heart failure, and then we have a set of questions to answer related to the patient and the condition.
Each room of 4 groups has a CTF(clinical teaching fellow), who has taken time out from their clinical work, that we can ask for assistance and run through the questions, talk about any interesting cases, or ways of thinking about certain topics, general advice and a person to chat to a bit more informally.
Outside of the scheduled lessons, how much time do you think you have to spend doing extra studying?
I think our curriculum is quite unique in this aspect in that for the first 2 pre-clinical years, we essentially have half-days 90% of the time.
The first years are in in the morning(9 to 1), and second years come in in the afternoon(2 to 6).
For the days where we have extra sessions, these can be smaller Units, or CHDD (consultation and diagnostic skills): for which in second year we have 3 sessions a term in hospital, practising history taking and examination skills.
So we have quite a lot of free time to do any extra studying. I think the general rule is to mirror how many hours/sessions we have in Uni with independent study. This is really doable, as a second year all my ‘extra’ independent study was done from 9 till 12 in the morning, with a couple of hours free before lectures at 2, and the whole evening free.
Everyone has their own ‘timetable’ and way of going about independent study, so it is really nice to have that flexibility to accommodate for other events, societies, and things we have going on in our lives.
Of course, in placement years we transition into a more full on timetable, and I am assuming there is less of a need to do too much extra studying in the sense of making notes, reading textbooks, and revising for exams(to compensate for having more timetabled hours).
What’s the role of technology in medical teaching?
Technology plays a central role in teaching in the first 2 years at Leicester Medical School. Everyone is provided with a free ipad(the latest release) and 99% of students will use these for our work at Uni. If you stepped into our lecture theatre, or even the Med building, you would see a sea of ipads with cases in all colours of the rainbow. Most students also buy an apple pencil, which is a bit pricey but the best thing for the job.
All lectures, workbooks, group work sessions are online, we use blackboard, for us to access at any time. Lectures are also recorded for you to watch again later if you missed it due to illness, or if you just zoned out for a few minutes.
In every group work room there are a few TV’s, our CTF’s may put small presentations on there, or show us extra resources, and we can use screen share to put up our screens for more people to see what’s going on on an individual’s ipad.
For clinical placement years, which I haven’t started yet, I hope we can continue to use our ipads to take notes, and the Med School is also working to make their clinical skills workbook(DOPS) an online version, reducing the need for carrying around a big logbook.
Liv’s questions + answers:
Do you use iPads frequently?
Yes! Our iPads are given to us in our first week of Medical School and so far I have never been without it at university. I have just completed Phase 1; the first two years, which are mostly lecture and group work based. During this time I used my iPad to download all lecture slides, to create any notes using my Apple Pencil, and we are given workbooks to download for our group work too. I begin my third year and Phase 2 in September, where I’d say iPads are used less frequently, but we still have workbooks to complete and I will use it for my independent learning too.
What are the exams like?
Whilst I certainly don’t like exams as much as the next person, I feel that Leicester’s exam style is fair and well organised. During Phase 1, we have End of Semester Assessments (ESAs) which are in January and May at the end of each term. These assessments examine all the content learnt up until that exam; ESA1 covers the 1st term of Year 1, ESA2 1st and 2nd term of Year 1, ESA3 Year 1 and 1st term Year 2 and so on..
We have several different formats for our exams too. Our written papers consist of a Short Answer Question (SAQ) paper, like those written papers sat in school exams, as well as a Single Best Answer (SBA) paper which is multiple choice using our iPads. We also have one anatomy exam at the end of first year, and another in second year known as an Integrated Understanding Assessment. We also have a formative (mock) OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) in first year, and a summative one at the end of second year which assesses your history taking, consultation skills but mainly prepares you for the many OSCEs you will be doing in Phase 2!
In Phase 2; Years 3-5, there is a formative assessment at the end of each block. The style of the exam depends on the type of placement so it could be any combination of SAQ, SBA or an OSCE. These help you to stay on top of your revision and see what you have learnt from this block, or need to improve on. There is then a summative End of Year exam in the same format as Phase 1 exams.
How does the grading system work?
Medicine is not a classified degree. Very much like grade boundaries in A Level exams, the exam pass marks are adjusted based on the performance of the year as a whole. Following marking, the pass mark is set and a student’s results are based on whether they have achieved a ‘satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory’ mark. In addition to this, the year is ranked into ‘deciles’ with Decile 1 meaning you have scored in the top 10% of the year, and 10 being the bottom 10%.
Is it a case of getting cut if you don’t pass the end of year exams or can you re-take?
Yes there is the option to resit your exams. If your overall performance from all the exams sat that academic year is deemed unsatisfactory you have the option to take a resit paper later in the summer. If you pass this you can progress to the following year, however if you do not it is at the discretion of the Board of Examiners and the Medical School to allow you to resit the year, but you can only resit the year once.
How expensive are the living arrangements?
During my first year, I lived in the student village in Oadby which is a 10 minute bus journey from the university, and there is also student accommodation in the city too.
Prices of first year halls range from £87 – £170 per week depending on which halls, catered or self-catered, ensuite or shared bathroom, or even a private studio flat.
After halls I moved into private accommodation sharing a house with friends which has cost around £95 a week including bills.
In terms of other costs of living, I have found Leicester to be a great student-friendly place to live. It very much depends on your budget, what you enjoy doing in your spare time, and whether you have a car and require petrol money too. I find my rent, food shopping, taxis and things such as meals out with friends to all be affordable.
Do you have any tips for Leicester interviews?
Leicester interviews follow the MMI format. To prepare for my interview, I familiarised myself with the themes they would be assessing, which can be found here: https://le.ac.uk/medicine/study/applying/interviews
I then used these as headings to make notes, ensuring I always linked back to my own experiences as examples. I made notes from my personal statement to prepare for any questions about me and my motivation to study Medicine, and read up on a lot of recent news articles and ethical dilemmas.
What thing surprised you the most about Leicester?
I think the city itself was what surprised me the most.
Originally, I had applied to other medical schools and instead applied to Leicester for Biological Sciences as my insurance; I didn’t get my firm offer following A Levels so came to Leicester to study Physiology, and was extremely lucky to be able to transfer to Medicine after a year. Admittedly, I didn’t even look round Leicester until my Offer Holder Day and immediately loved the university campus and the small compact city. It is definitely very student friendly, there is a big shopping centre and lots of quirky bars, restaurants and clubs mean it has a great nightlife. We also have the football and rugby stadiums, a bouldering wall and trampolining park, and many different art classes too.
Any tips for gap year/international applicants?
The medical school is incredibly diverse with students coming from a range of backgrounds; we have school leavers, gap year students, as well as lots of international and graduate students. My tips would be to make the most of any opportunities you have to help strengthen your application. If you are a gap year student, find some paid work in a healthcare environment or even better, work abroad. If you are an international student perhaps you can find some unique work experience in your home country. For example, I was fortunate enough to spend 2 weeks in a small less well-known city in the USA, which allowed me to demonstrate my knowledge of the private healthcare system compared to the NHS, the importance of health education, and proved to be invaluable in my interview.
Thank you to Liv and Muhammad for answering these questions! You can get in touch with them both on their social media:
Liv’s happy for you to contact her if you have any other questions or if you want to learn about her transfer to medicine from another course.
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