“To all the staff of Rochester Independent College. Thank you so much for helping me achieve my dream of studying medicine and getting into Imperial College, London. The unconditional support, encouragement and motivation meant so much.”
Rochester Independent College has been helping prepare students for medical, dental and vet school entry since 1984.
As well as two year courses we also offer intensive one year A level Science and Maths courses that have been successfully taken by high flying international and mature students preparing for medicine, dentistry and vet science.
For international students aiming for these courses a two year programme is generally better to allow us to help them to build up relevant work experience. Many of the College’s former students are now successful practitioners working locally and many of the local GPs, surgeons and consultants send their children to us. This gives RIC a real wealth of experience to draw upon when advising students about who to approach when organising their work experience. Our parents also help with the mock interviews we organise for all our applicants aiming for these courses.
There is no secret to how to make a successful medical school application and the universities themselves are increasingly transparent about the process. They tend to point score applicants on each aspect of their application- academic performance to date, work experience, personal statement, UKCAT score and interview performance. Rochester Independent College’s Senior UCAS Advisor is Dr Rachel Woolley, former executive administrator in the medical school at Birmingham University. Dr Woolley works closely with all of Rochester Independent College’s prospective medics, dentists and vets and we keep up to date with the constantly changing entry requirements.
With up to 10 applicants per place at the 31 UK medical schools it is inevitable that every year there will be students with top grades and good work experience that are left disappointed. With international students there are additional challenges in preparing applications. The medical schools operate a quota system for overseas applicants so it is particularly important that applications are targeted strategically. Oxford for example has only 14 places for international students on its undergraduate medicine course, Nottingham only 25.
It’s important for international students to note that some UK medical schools such as Imperial, Cardiff, UCL, Glasgow and Southampton give preference to those from countries without their own medical schools.
For medical school entry it is often advisable for students to do an arts or social science subject as their fourth subject to show a degree of breadth. UCL actually state that candidates who do so are at an advantage. Obviously the most important A level subjects for potential medics are Chemistry, Biology and Maths, all subjects that Rochester Independent College has an established track record in. Options chosen in the A levels at RIC are often geared towards medical school entry, for example the Sociology of Health and Medical Physics.
Students are guided through every aspect of their UCAS application. We offer guidance for students who need to take additional entrance tests such as the UKCAT. RIC students also have an outstanding track record of securing places on medically related courses such as Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Audiology, Optometry and Radiography.
Click here for more guidance on entry to UK medical schools, including a section for international applicants.
There are also some emerging private options for aspiring international doctors. The private University of Buckingham has launched a new medical school with fees for UK, EU and Overseas students set at £35,525 per year while London’s well established Queen Mary University are charging £25,500 per year for their new private medical training venture on the Maltese island of Gozo.
recent success stories
Charlie Bicknell who joined RIC from Hertfordshire on a two year A level course as a boarding student has an unconditional offer from the prestigious UCL Medical School starting in September 2015.
RIC’s use of testing and reflection mirrors a lot of what I use at medical school and I am particularly thankful that I learnt these techniques when sitting my A levels. Passionate and engaging tutors encouraged me to take a mature approach to learning that not only made A levels, dare I say it, enjoyable, but also equipped me with the skills set to tackle the challenges I have faced in my first year at Newcastle. Dr Rachel Woolley at RIC also offered me constant, personalised and quality advice, guidance and support when applying for medical school, ensuring my personal statement and interview preparation was the best it could be. For this I am very grateful.” Conor McManaman, RIC Class of 2014
Two RIC international students started Dentistry in 2012 at Sheffield University, Anna Lee from Korea and Yalda Nassehi from Iran. Carla and Yalda both boarded in our onsite halls of residence while at Rochester.
2012 RIC student Vinitha Soundararajan was left last September with four top A level grades- including an A* in Biology and As in Chemistry and Maths but rejections from all the medical schools she applied to. Refusing to give up on her dreams of becoming a doctor she opted to take a year out to improve her profile and reapply. She says:
“I decided to do a one year A level Sociology course as part of my gap year plans and this helped me at interview. The one year course packaged huge amounts of material relevant to the issues involved in a health care profession really well. I went to a grammar school before RIC but the teacher student relationships here are unique, far more friendly and laid back. With the help of my teachers and friends the one year A level course was a great opportunity to have another shot at applying for medicine and being successful at it. As well as my intensive A level course I did some long term volunteer placements at a children’s hospice and at a hospital. Everyone I knew was travelling during their gap years but I thought I’d stay local and build up my work experience.”
Vinitha now has an extra A level to add to her collection and started her MBBS Medicine course at the University of East Anglia in October 2012. Advising others left in a similar position she says:
“Anyone thinking of applying for medicine keep going at it. You will get people along the way who will tell you it’s too hard but at the end of the day you have to go for what you want.”
Medics at Medway
A group of Year 12 students enjoyed a fascinating morning on a guided tour round several of the departments at Medway Maritime Hospital this term. Sadly, cameras were strictly forbidden as we were allowed privileged access to the wards and behind-the-scenes areas. While some of the students were interested in Medicine others were interested in allied careers such as Dentistry, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy and Biomedical Engineering. Seeing the CT and Ultra sound scanners in operation was fascinating, but what seemed to catch everyone’s imagination was the robot in the Pharmacy Department! No one predicted that this would be the students’ highlight of the day. Many thanks indeed to Felicity Lucas at the Medway Trust for helping to organise such an informative visit. We hope to take another group of aspiring medics next term and see even more departments in operation.