SGUL Biomedical Science Transfer Programme
I remember vividly, being in year 12 and feeling sheer disappointment when I did not receive the AAA prediction necessary to have a realistic chance of applying to study medicine. I had just spent my summer holiday completing hospital work experience, attending a healthcare summer school at St George’s University of London (SGUL) and revising for and sitting the UKCAT examination. I had achieved a reasonable score of 678 however I knew that this was no longer of any use if I could not apply to UCAS in that academic year. Undeterred, I considered alternative routes I could take to reach my goal of becoming a doctor. My options included:
Taking a gap year after completing year 13 if I achieved a minimum of 3 A grades and applying to study medicine the following year.
Resitting any examinations I needed to in my gap year if I received fewer than 3 A grades. I knew this would severely limit the places I could apply as most medical schools did not consider applicants who had completed A levels over three years.
Considering graduate entry medicine after completing a related science degree.
During my time at the St George’s summer school I had heard from student ambassadors about the “Clinical Transfer” scheme that SGUL ran. It is through this programme that SGUL offer 20 Biomedical Science students every year the opportunity to bypass the UCAS application process, forgo the UKCAT and need for a personal statement and progress directly into the third year of medicine following completion of their undergraduate degrees. To be eligible for interview for the programme students need to achieve an average of over 68% in all modules at the end of second year examinations. They are then invited to interview in the eight station MMI format that SGUL employ for both graduate and undergraduate interviews. Students are then ranked according to their interview score and the 20 highest scoring students are subsequently made an offer to study Medicine at SGUL.
That year, knowing that I had missed the UCAS Medicine application deadline, I applied to study Biomedical Science at UCL, King’s College London (KCL), Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and Biomedical Science at SGUL. I received offers from all of the institutions I applied to but chose SGUL as my first choice because of the Clinical Transfer. I researched other institutions to establish whether any offered a similar transfer programme. I had discovered that QMUL had a similar transfer scheme however this was open to all students studying a Biological Science degree and they only offered 15 spaces. I calculated that my odds at QMUL were much lower when competing with 1000+ students as opposed to SGUL’s 200 student cohort. KCL, I learnt, offered their Biomedical Science graduates an interview on their undergraduate MBBS programme upon completion of their degree. I reasoned that this was not a significant enough advantage to warrant accepting KCL over SGUL. All of the information I have detailed above was true in 2014/15 when I was applying but I would recommend that any students considering alternative routes into medicine call institutions and ask their Biomedical Science and Medicine admissions teams. I have heard that many institutions now offer transfer schemes but the availability and minutiae of these programmes change on a yearly basis so it is always worth enquiring.
On results day I achieved a B in A2 Chemistry, I was disappointed but optimistic, I knew that I could still become a doctor and that I had many options available to me. On the first day of university, I distinctly remember sitting in Monckton Lecture Theatre (the largest lecture theatre at SGUL) and the Biomedical Science course coordinator asked our 240 strong cohort to raise our hands if we wanted to “get the transfer”. The entire lecture theatre raised their hands. That moment set the tone for my following three years at SGUL.
Studying Biomedical Science at SGUL was a formative period in my life. It was a time of fierce competition but also one of significant opportunity. In order to boost my chances of successfully attaining the Clinical Transfer I became a student ambassador. Becoming a student ambassador allowed me to take part in many unique opportunities that I was able to reflect on at interview including summer schools and open days. It also gave me the opportunity to learn basic clinical skills that I later showcased in the Primary Practice programme where I visited local primary school children and taught them about healthcare. I also joined as many student societies at university as I could and worked my way through them becoming a senior committee member. I tried to diversify my societal commitments with both academic and non-academic focuses. I also used my time at SGUL to also obtain interesting work experience opportunities in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Whilst I would recommend that anyone trying to attain the Clinical Transfer work very hard to achieve the academic requirements that SGUL, or any institution for that matter, I would also recommend that as much care is taken to develop one’s own portfolio. Building a portfolio is part of the lifelong professional progression of all medical students and doing this as an undergraduate student considering Medicine will enable you to stand out amongst the crowd. Proving yourself to be an invaluable member of your institution by contributing as much as possible to the student community is another relatively unknown secret to being successful.
If after two years of hard work and toil you are not eligible for the transfer programme you will still be extremely well prepared for graduate entry or undergraduate medicine. Having been a medical school interviewer I have seen first hand how graduates excel at interview amongst undergraduate students and it is no surprise that the majority of my Biomedical Science colleagues are now studying medicine in one capacity or another.
To conclude, I wish you, reader, the best of luck in your endeavours if you are pursuing an alternative route into medicine. I want to leave you with a quote that often inspired me during my Biomedical Science studies by the great Muhammad Ali “I hated every minute of training, but I said, “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
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An excellent read! Well done Tasnim.