Medicine @ Dundee | Q&A

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These questions have been answered by Sarah Yasin, a 2nd year medical student at Dundee.

What options for SSCs do you have and are rural placements an option?

SSC(student selected components) options vary each year, a list of 40 or so topics is released at the start of the academic year. Students can then submit their top 5 choices into an online programme from which the medical school then appoints students a SSC.  Most often they try their best to give students their first choice however in a year group of 160 (approximately) this is not always possible. 

Rural placements is an option which I believe is more associated with Aberdeen’s medical school however as a student if rural medicine is a branch of  medicine which interests you then this can always be discussed with the medical school and if possible then arrangements can be made.

What is the best area to stay in Dundee when studying medicine?

Choosing where to stay is very much a personal choice, I had mentioned some student accommodations available in first year on my blog post. If you are opting to stay on campus in first year then I would recommend Heathfield or Belmont Flats, the other accommodations (Seabraes and Belmont Towers) would also be great options however i haven’t had  any personal experience hence why they aren’t ones I can recommend. All student accommodation organised by the University is brilliant so there should be no concerns. If you choose to stay in private accommodation then the most popular ones that I have heard of from other students are properties on and around Blackness Ave or Perth Road however choosing your accommodation is a personal decision so i would advise trying to pop over to Dundee and check out the city and properties that you are viewing and also check  to see where the nearest bus stops are or parking spaces if you  wish to drive.

As you have said there’s no minimum cut-off, will a UCAT score of around 2400 be considered for an interview?

Unfortunately I can’t guarantee whether a certain UCAT score would get an interview or not as the UCAT is only one element of the application process so your grades and personal statement are also important factors to take into consideration. I would advise contacting the university’s admissions department and maybe ask if they can share what UCAT scores received interviews last year and which was the lowest UCAT score to receive an offer. Sorry I  know my answer is vague but it is just one of those things that I can’t guarantee for certain.

Do you have any preparation tips for MMIs?

So for MMI preparation, one thing I always tell applying students is to view the 10 MMI stations as 10 different opportunities, each station in the MMI has a new interviewer who hasn’t met you before nor do they know how you performed at previous stations. So smile and start afresh with each station trying to forget about the previous one. It is common to mess up at least one of the stations, for me it was my first one so the important thing to do is remember that one bad station doesn’t necessarily equate to a whole bad interview. 

I would definitely have a read of the University’s medical school website especially in preparation for answering a question like why did you choose to apply to Dundee? 

I would also recommend having a look over your personal statement as many medical schools like to discuss these at interviews. 

Role play and activity/puzzle stations are also quite common and it is important that these stations are meant to test your people and communication skills, often the actor at the station will get upset or angry and the best thing to do is remain calm, patient and try to understand why they are feeling the way they are. Similarly to how a doctor wouldn’t dismiss their patients’ concerns and feelings you must always respect the individual and their situation. Also always try to reassure the person in front of you, if they make a mistake then maybe say something like “Don’t worry you’re doing well” as it provides some reassurance to others, just think of what you would like to hear if you were in their position. If someone is angry then maybe say “I understand this is difficult for you so let’s try to solve this together”, instead of giving a solution which sometimes you may need to do, working with the person allows them to take ownership of the situation. 

It is also important to remember that the stations are there to test your skills in terms of handling the activity but also to see how you respond to challenges so try not to get upset or worked up and remain calm, trying your best.

How did you find the jump from advanced highers to uni?

There is definitely a difference particularly in the style of teaching, from my personal experience I found that when I started university it was the self directed teaching that took some time to understand. Lecturers in university regardless of the degree expect students to take responsibility for their teaching however I found there is a huge amount of support available in university from the medical school to your peers. Everyone is always more than happy to help so if you do encounter any problems or need any help then I would always recommend talking to someone.

What websites/materials are helpful when studying?

There is a huge range of materials available to medical students, to name a few you can look at Pastest and Passmedicine both of which are question banks that you can work through when revising and preparing for exams. Many people also use Anki or Brainscape to prepare flashcards to revise content  from lectures. For OSCEs which are your practical exams, I find the University’s Youtube page (Dundee Clinical Skills) extremely beneficial as you can watch  tutors perform examinations and also Geeky Medics has some brilliant resources. 

In terms of buying medical books I would recommend waiting until you have started medical school as each University has their own textbooks that work best  with their curriculum and also since textbooks are very pricey many universities have bought online versions of them which can be accessed by all students or alternatively they are available in the university library. 

Where is the majority of the course spent? On campus/ninewells?

A lot of time during the first 8 weeks of first year which is Principles is spent on campus with afternoon tutorials often at Ninewells however once you get to the Systems block so that’s Respiratory, Cardiovascular and GI for first year you spend a majority of your time  at Ninewells. You will however be on campus for dissection as anatomy labs are there.

How did you revise your content for different areas (anatomy, lecture materials etc.)?

Many students organise their lectures into their own notes or flashcards, again it is dependent on what works for you. I would definitely recommend creating your own notes in whatever form you like (written, typed, mind maps, flashcards or posters) as it allows you to combine information from lecture slides and any additional information mentioned in the lecture. In Dundee, most often we receive a list of textbook or online recommendations at the start of a lecture that we may refer to for additional reading or to clarify information. 

One tip I would give is to try and use spaced repetition as a form of revising because unlike high school the content you learn is not just to pass your exams but to use as a doctor in the future. Content from previous years appear in each year’s exams so in second year you have a percentage of 1st  year knowledge tested so it is important to completely understand topics and move information from  your short  term memory to your long term memory as it will benefit you greatly 🙂

For anatomy, the Dundee medical school allows you to access anatomy labs to review prosections and other materials as long as permission has been sought. There is a wide range of anatomy textbooks available but again my suggestion would be to wait until you start medical school and find out from older students what material is worth buying and how beneficial it is. 

Is it a diverse place good for international students?

I believe Dundee is a brilliant place to study for international  students, there are many societies such as the Indian Society and Singapore Society which helps international  students get involved within student life at the University. Many International societies host  a range of brilliant events to allow mixing of students and from my experience the people  in Dundee are very friendly both in the university and within the city.

How do you manage your time and how many hours a day are spent studying?

Everyone manages their time in their own way, I use a planner to organise my week on the weekend prior to the start of a new week. I try to block off time for any social engagements I have planned and also slot in my revision time for when I am most productive which for me is afternoon/evening. As a medical student it is important to use smart learning so for example since I learn better in the afternoon and evening I can spend 4 hours looking over content early morning  whereas I could cover the same work in less time later in the day when I am more productive and alert. In terms of time spent studying this again is more dependent on you as an individual, I would recommend though to try and look over lectures from your day the same day and create notes in mind maps or flashcards or whichever way works for you. The benefit of this is that the content is fresh in your mind so  it will make it easier to create notes, another tip I would recommend is setting a timer of  one hour or however long  you need to recap the lecture, this allows you to minimise procrastination and have time left for yourself. 

How did you find the first 8 weeks of principles? Was it similar to advanced highers?

Some elements of principles are similar to what is taught in high school such as Biochemistry, Genetics and Physiology however there are some topics such as Embryology, pharmacology etc that are new. The purpose of the 8 weeks of  Principles is to allow all students to create a basic science knowledge which acts as a foundation for the rest of the systems as it must be appreciated that medical students all come from different backgrounds when starting first year. Principles is a bit strange in the sense  that when you start first  year you feel like you’re not doing medicine but instead advanced higher chemistry however you soon begin to notice how important it is in setting you up for  the rest of the content in medical school. I wouldn’t worry about Principles as it is a brilliant start to first year which allows you to ease into both the content and change in environment from high school to university. 

In the timetable what is the private/ independent study?

Sorry I should have made this clear in the blog, private/independent study is basically time off so students can opt to revise or partake in extracurriculars or whatever you wish to do. Wednesday afternoons are always private study and this is to allow students to join sports societies which often have their competitions and events on Wednesdays.

What is the best transport from the campus to nine wells? And how long does it take?

From my own experience I found using the bus as the best method of transport from campus to Ninewells, there are a number of buses that go to the hospital from both  in front  of and behind campus. Some students also opt to cycle to the hospital and there are brilliant facilities to secure your bike in front of the hospital. On average by bus I would say it takes 20 or so minutes to get to the hospital.

How many English students compared to Scottish are there?

Unfortunately I can’t give you a number exactly so I would recommend contacting admissions with this question and hopefully they will be able to better help you 🙂

Thank you so much to everyone for their questions, I wish you all the best with your application to medicine 🙂


Thank you to Sarah for answering these questions!


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Posted by:Life of a Medic

2 replies on “What’s it Really Like To Study Medicine at Dundee Medical School?

  1. Just to say, rural placements in Dundee are definitely an option once you get into the clinical years. There’s the option to choose out blocks in places such as Oban and everyone undertakes a rural GP block in final year where you can be placed places like Shetland and Skye among others. In terms of SSCs there’s also the option to self-propose after 1st year which means that you can ensure you end up doing a placement you’ll enjoy rather than waiting to see your allocation from the list.

    Dundee’s great, it’s a very friendly medical school and there’s a real emphasis on early clinical teaching and communication skills so you should be well prepared for life as an FY when it eventually comes around.

    Liked by 1 person

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