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Routes into Medicine

Truro and Penwith College has always been a popular choice for students in Cornwall who want to be doctors or go into other careers in Medicine

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Published Tuesday 18 January 2022

Emily Myatt, the Medics’ Academy Lead at the College and Deputy Team Leader in Science, offered some advice: “To be a doctor, vet or dentist, the usual route is to do A Levels or the Internal Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. The classic A Level subjects to study for Medicine are Chemistry, Biology and Maths.

“Studying Chemistry used to be essential to be a doctor, but that is not always the case now, as some universities take Maths, Physics, or Psychology instead. For Veterinary Science or Dentistry, Chemistry is still essential. But the best subjects to take are always those you’ll enjoy and get the best grades in.

“Choosing the right set of A Levels, so a student will do well and be able to get into where they want can be tactical and requires a bit of insight, which is exactly what we are here to help with. You can only apply for four Medical Schools, and you’re only judged on three A Levels for Medicine. Medical Schools never make points offers.”

Emily also highlighted that getting work experience is very important to help you get into these competitive careers.

“Three A Levels or the IB, combined with the Medics’ Academy and work experience are the way. Work experience is needed especially for Veterinary, and a range of experience of different places and different things. Fewer people apply for Veterinary or Dentistry, but they are just as competitive professions as becoming a Doctor.

“We think about every Medical School individually as they have different criteria and look at students’ individual strengths and weaknesses.

“Just because students haven’t got 7s, 8s and 9s in their GCSEs coming into College doesn’t mean they can’t be a Doctor. The College is a new environment where students generally outperform their previous expectations and achieve more than their GCSE results might suggest.

“In terms of A Level results to get into Uni to be a doctor, dentist or vet, ‘AAA’ is a comfortable place to be.

“If someone wants a medical research career, doing the EPQ would be recommended, but otherwise it is much better to focus on getting work experience.”

The ‘Extended Project Qualification’ is a solo research project, essay and presentation equivalent to half an A Level.

The Medics’ Academy at the College is the Academy choice for students wanting to go on to these competitive Medicine university courses and careers, giving additional learning opportunities, knowledge, support and guidance to aid the students, and fitting around their other studies in their timetable, as all Academies do.

“We have between 20 and 40 students in the Medics’ Academy a year, students aiming to become doctors, dentists or vets,” says Emily. “Both Truro College and Penwith College students have exactly the same opportunities, help and support.”

The Medics’ Academy gives all the support and knowledge students need, including help with personal statements, admissions tests, mock interviews, MMI training, work experience, additional skills, guidance for exams, and support throughout the whole process. There are specialised talks, workshops and seminars to help increase knowledge, communication skills and manual dexterity.

“Medicine can be more psychologically and emotionally challenging than other career pathways,” says Emily. “The schedule and timescale is different from what your friends doing other things might be facing. Support from other people going through the really competitive process is important.

“One of our greatest strengths at the College are our alumni, our ‘Medics’ Academy Family,’ a huge family of former students in Medical School, F1 and F2 training, and practicing doctors, GPs, dentists and vets, who come back to help, as they appreciated the help they got when they were here. It’s great. In all Medical Schools our students also meet other ex- Truro and Penwith students in the years above them.”

There are also other ways to become a doctor aside from going to Medical School after College, such as Graduate Entry Medicine. Students with a degree in a relevant subject can go on to be a doctor after that.

Truro College’s ‘Access to Medicine’ qualification is for adults who want to go on to university-level education in Medicine, Medical Sciences, Dentistry or allied health professions, but don’t have the previous qualifications to get there straight away. Access courses are one-year courses that usually start in September and finish at the end of May, taught over 11-15 hours a week, usually across three days.

Or you can have an amazing career in the medical field if you don’t have the grades to become a doctor. “There are so many fantastic careers aside from being a doctor, dentist or vet,” says Emily, “such as Physician’s Associate, Operating Department Technician, or Nursing. You don’t have to have A Levels to get there, if exams and academic learning aren’t your thing, then Diploma or T Levels are more practical routes and the College has the ‘Allied Health Academy’ to give additional support into other health and medical career pathways.”

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