Medicine @ St George’s | Q&A
These questions have been answered by Olivia and Beth, both final year medical students at St George’s.
O = Olivia’s answers; B = Beth’s answers
What’s the London campus like?
O: You couldn’t be closer to the hospital if you tried!
B: No, really, the campus is literally INSIDE the hospital — and yes, it’s the hospital where they film 24 Hours in A&E! I personally found this was so helpful once I started placement, as I felt much more used to a clinical environment.
O: George’s is small, so you’re always seeing people who you know around. All the resources you need from the SU to student services to the library are very close so if you need anything it’s really quick to get between them. Our bar and social spaces have been updated over the past 3 years so there’s lots of space to eat lunch or hang out with friends or do work. It’s a small Uni, only about 5500 students, so there’s almost always someone who you know around.
B: It’s definitely one of the main things I really love about George’s – the majority of the University is situated in Hunter Wing, so you’re constantly running into the other students on site. Because there aren’t that many of us in comparison to other Unis, it can feel like ‘everyone knows everyone’, which although has its downsides (sometimes feels more like a sixth form than a Uni!), creates a really nice sense of community.
What are the pros and cons of studying at the London campus?
O: It’s really small so everything is on site, there’s no trekking between different places for teaching.
B: This changes once you get to clinical years, and start to be placed at different hospitals/GP surgeries in the surrounding areas.
O: However, it’s got great transport links so it’s easy to get to, as it’s 5 minutes walk from Tooting Broadway station on the Northern line.
B: I’ve really appreciated all the transport links, whether it be the night tube after a wild evening or the buses to get me to placement in the morning, it’s really convenient. It seems that because of this, there are quite a number of people who choose to commute.
O: Living in Zone 3 makes rent cheaper than some of the other London Uni’s.
B: Most of us who aren’t commuting live near the hospital, which means it’s easy to walk to Uni or to a friend’s house. There are also some really lovely places in the local area, including Morden Hall Park, Deen City Farm and Tooting Bec Lido (the largest open-air pool in the UK). Not to flex, but Tooting was also voted one of the 10 coolest neighborhoods on earth!
O: It’s a specialist healthcare Uni which means everyone’s on a course that’s related to healthcare or medicine, it was one of the main draws of going to George’s as everyone gets what it’s like, especially the full time course and workload.
B: I feel like it’s also helped me get a better understanding and appreciation of all the different roles in healthcare, particularly the allied health professions.
O: Lot’s of Uni and hospital staff use our SU bar so you have to be prepared to occasionally see people who you’ve worked with.
B: The whole of the team that my friend was on placement with were sat in the bar on a Wednesday night during circles (sports social) and she was in fancy dress…
O: As it’s smaller it doesn’t have as wide a range of facilities and societies as other Uni’s.
B: In terms of facilities, that is something which can be frustrating – often our ‘Home’ hockey pitch actually took longer to get to than the ‘Away’ pitch. Although this wouldn’t have been the case if I’d had a car (the buses took about 3-4x as long as the drive…). London rent prices are a big factor – it was honestly painful hearing my friends from other Unis talk about paying only double figures per week for their accommodation. However, you do get a bigger maintenance loan for living in London.
Normally what are the “work hours” like?
B: Like most medical schools, we have Wednesday afternoons off for sports / society activities.
O: In preclinical years, you normally have 9-5 lectures 2x/ week, dissection room and clinical +/- comms skills on one day a week and CBL and lectures on one day.
B: I’ve tried to put this in a table so you can get a better idea of what’s going on:
It’s very lecture-heavy in pre-clinical years, so that’s something to be aware of.
O: In clinical years, it’s normally 9-5 for placement.
B: Although you still get that Wednesday afternoon off!
What is PBL like?
O: George’s does CBL in the first two years for undergrad, it’s like PBL but instead of making the decisions you discuss what to do and then the case moves on without you choosing an option.
B: We do a different case each week, and the case is themed around what you’ll be learning about in your other sessions, including anatomy and clinical skills.
O: For first year GEPs and all students in their Transition year (first year clinical) you do PBL. You have a different group and tutor every block and each block has a different focus for learning.
B: I found PBL to be so useful for my learning, and really help me at the start of clinical years!
Is it possible to receive an offer of AAA even if St George’s is not your firm choice?
O: All offers from George’s are either A*AA – AAA unless you qualify for adjusted grades. Read more here.
Do they accept applicants who have to retake a year as exams got cancelled this year?
B: Not sure we’d be the best people to answer this I’m afraid. I’d suggest to keep checking the FAQ page for prospective applicants, or get in touch with the Uni through the contact details on that page under the section ‘Who should I contact if I have any more questions?’
Is work experience/volunteering a big thing in the application process?
O: When I was invited to interview (2016 entry) you could write down up to 5 pieces of work experience but length of time is just as important as a variety of different things. For this you need references that detail dates, hours worked and duties done and has to have been done in the past two years. They also want to see your knowledge of your own abilities and limitations and what you’ve learnt from the experience.
B: You might find it helpful to look at the Work Experience section on the ‘Entry Requirements’ page. I completely echo what Olivia has said about showing what you have learnt from the experience. You don’t have to have been shadowing a world-renowned neurosurgeon since you were 5 years old! It’s important to reflect on why the different experiences you’ve had make you a good candidate.
How’s the social life?
O: The bar is always busy and there’s normally loads of society things going on. Most sport clubs have a social on a Wednesday night and there’s GEP Fridays where the graduate medics come together.
B: It’s quite different from other Unis in the sense that there’s not ‘club nights’ in the SU every week, but back when I was going out more we all just went to local clubs instead (Tram / Ministry)! The SU disco nights are honestly my favourites though! I think the social life is very much what you make of it – if you want to throw yourself into a few different societies, you’ll quickly find your time filled up with sports matches and socials. We have George’s families too, who will help you find your feet and let you know what things in the social calendar you should be attending!
Do you do full body dissections and any prosections?
O: If you want to dissect a body, you can apply to go on the Summer Dissection programme.
B: This is a really cool opportunity (if you love anatomy) to do full body dissection.
What resources would you recommend for study?
O: The lecturer’s cover most of the learning objectives in preclinical years after that the Oxford handbooks are good for most general things.
B: One of the biggest things I’d say is don’t buy textbooks before coming to Uni! In my 5 years I’ve only purchased three books. The library is great, and I think because we are a healthcare only Uni, the resources are very tailored to what you need. Once you arrive, your George’s parents will help you out with sending you notes & other great resources!
Are you able to receive extra support when you are in need of it?
O: The disability team is lovely, and really helpful when responding to enquiries. The Students’ Union has a VP Education and Welfare who is there to support students, and SGUL Alumni have been funding an Education and Welfare Support Officer within the SU too.
B: I have a good understanding of the support available, as I’ve spent the last year as the VP Education and Welfare, but also because I’ve been the one looking to receive the support myself. I think as with many things, it can be very dependent on who the people who you speak to, but the majority of the University staff I’ve spoken with about my mental health have been really supportive and helpful.
O: There are lots of different services and people who can help, from the Universities’ counselling service to the Dean for International Students to the Students’ Parents and Carers Empowered Society.
B: Sometimes the most difficult thing is knowing who to go to, and that’s definitely something the VP Education and Welfare can help to do!
What modules do you study in first year (e.g. cardiology, endocrinology)?
B: Disclaimer – I think they may be changing it slightly, so it might be different when you arrive, but the first 2 years of preclinical is split into 4 semesters. The first semester you sort of dip your toe in and do a little bit of everything, and then the remaining 3 you spend going over that in more depth. They are very big on the spiral curriculum!
O: In the second semester you study cardiology, respiratory, endocrinology, alimentary, kidney and body fluids and metabolism.
How well are the lectures delivered?
O: As with everywhere it depends on the lecturer, most of them are really good, we have excellent lecturers for infectious diseases, pharmacology, cardiology and anatomy. They’re the one who I’d consider BNOCs as everyone can remember their names and still talk about their lectures even 4 years on!
B: I think it’s also about personal preference too! But I would really strongly agree that we have fantastic lecturers for Pharmacology (I’m honestly a bit jealous of the new Clinical Pharmacology course!!) and Anatomy especially.
B: I hope this has helped give you a better overview into the course at St George’s! Honestly, I absolutely adore it here, and couldn’t imagine finding somewhere else which was a better fit for me. Good luck with the application process!
Thank you to Olivia and Beth for answering these questions! You can follow them on their social media below:
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