Deciding where to apply
Deciding which medical school to apply to is a really difficult and, at times, confusing process. For some people, medical school rankings are a really important part of their decision-making process, whether that be because they want to get into best medical school in the UK or because they’re trying to apply tactically.
We have another article that looks more at applying to medical schools in general (see the article here), which might be a good place to start if you’re feeling very lost. As with all articles, make sure you take notes on anything you find particularly useful or important and also save the article so you can come back to it later. In this article, we will look at:
- Are rankings important?
- What do the rankings look at?
- Should rankings inform my decision of which medical schools to apply to?
Is ranking important?
Every primary UK qualification is equal, regardless of the ranking.
The General Medical Council says: “In legal terms, every primary UK qualification is equal, in that all allow graduates to apply for provisional registration with a licence to practise with the GMC”.
Basically, this quote from the GMC is making a really important point to remember. Regardless of which medical school you go to, at the end of it, as long as you pass your exams, you will be a doctor! You will have a medical degree and be able to practice as an F1. If that is the most important thing to you, then maybe you don’t need to worry about medical school rankings too much.
What are your future plans?
However, depending on if you’re planning on working abroad, going private, or looking to go into research, the ranking and ‘calibre’ of the medical school you went to may help you slightly in your application.
However, I honestly wouldn’t worry about this too much, as much more important will be your end ‘grade’ and any additional qualifications you undertook such as a BSc /MSc.
Also, don’t forget that ranking exist for things other than academic performance, such as student satisfaction. This might be more important for you to look at, as it could help you to narrow down or choose between your top 10 universities.
The best Medical School in the UK
Let’s just put it this way. No Medical School is the best Medical School in the UK. As I alluded to already, rankings look at lots of different things. And there are different rankings made by different people.
In this article I will discuss 2 main rankings:
Both are well respected and provide you with good information on all the UK universities offering medicine. I would save these links for later so you can browse them in your own time.
The Complete University Guide
The Complete university guide looks at entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality, research intensity and graduate prospects. It collates all of these together to create a final score.
It’s a really easy guide to read and use, but hopefully, you will notice that the scores are all really close together – the bottom score (as of 06/02/21) is still 92%! I think this shows that all of the universities are pretty good.
The Guardian’s guide
The Guardian’s guide is very similar but doesn’t look so much at research opportunities. It focuses more on student satisfaction with course, teaching and feedback and also on things like a student to staff ratio and amount spent per student. It is up to you to decide how important these different factors are for you.
For both of these ranking websites, the score that seems to vary the most is student satisfaction. Most other variables are very closely scored, so it’s really difficult to differentiate between them.
Should the rankings influence my decision?
This is a really difficult question to answer, as deciding which medical schools to apply to is a really personal process. This is somewhere you will be living, working, studying and socialising for the next 5 or 6 years of your life. The most important thing is that you like where you have applied to and that you feel happy there.
Of course, another really important thing to think about is if you meet each university’s entry requirements. There is no point in applying to a university of a specific ranking if you haven’t got the specific GCSEs / UCAT score etc that is required. At the end of the day, you have to be pragmatic, and as you only have 4 places available to apply to for medical school, you don’t want to waste a whole application spot on a place that you realistically won’t be able to get into.
On the other hand, don’t be put off applying to a certain university just because it has a supposedly “low ranking”. As I have already said, the most important thing is how you feel about the university, (such as if there are specific aspects of the course that you like, such as whole-body dissections, early clinical experiences, PBL approaches or opportunities to study abroad) and also how you feel about the university and city/town/campus.
In conclusion, well researched, informative medical school rankings do exist, and they can be useful in helping you to narrow down or inform your choices of which medical school to apply to. However, please don’t let medical school rankings be the main thing that influences your decision on which medical schools to apply to. And let me just repeat myself here – No Medical School is the best Medical School in the UK.
GET YOUR HOSPITAL