Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Applying to medicine

Does it matter which medical school you go to?

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 22 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5014
  1. Alison Walker, associate editor, BMJ
  1. 1London, UK

Students and doctors tell us how their choice of medical school influenced their careers

The answer to the question depends on who you ask. Applicants to medical school, medical students, foundation doctors, doctors in specialty training, and qualified doctors all have different opinions. Your choice of medical school is an important decision in your life, determining where you live, how you study, and what you learn. But does your choice really matter in the long term? Is there any objective evidence to compare the quality of medical schools and how it determines your future career? And on what criteria, if any, should comparisons be based?

The applicant

Most sixth form students applying to medical school for the first time say it doesn’t matter where they go. Their priority is to get into any medical school that will have them, because competition is so fierce. UCAS report that there were 84 395 applications to preclinical medicine in 2013, but only 7515 of applicants were offered a place.1 Daisy Howes, from Croydon, who applied during the 2014 application cycle says that you can’t afford to be too picky. “At the end of the day, I just wanted a place. My selection was first based on who would be most likely to offer me an interview with the grades and experience I had,” she says. Sometimes pupils know they might not get in first time and are aware of high achievers in the year above who got a place only at their second attempt. Applicants generally start by matching their predicted A level results and entrance examination results to narrow down their choice of medical school. This is followed by consideration of teaching style, location, cost of living, reputation, and other opportunities on offer. Given that the General Medical Council requires all medical schools to …

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