At King’s College London the standard medical degree takes place over 5 years. It starts with two years of “preclinical” studies which cover physiology, anatomy, biochemistry etc. to lay down a foundation of medical sciences. The subsequent “clinical years” develop the student to be more than a scientist – to embrace an identity of a doctor, with proficiency in decision making, communication and deliverance of a health service.
KCL provides the option to take an ‘intercalated degree’- degreeception, a degree within a degree. This is a common occurrence, with many medical schools offering this prolongation of education or just subtly adding it in; Nottingham, Cambridge, Oxford etc.
If you have a choice to take a BSc, should you?
AGAINST A BSc:
You may say “5 years is an awful long time to be able to graduate”.
Think of all the things that you delay by taking that extra year?!
– “I just want to start earning money!”
-“An extra year of Uni? An extra year of DEBT!”
(The NHS pays fees for any years over your fourth, so the tuition fees for an undergraduate intercalated degree are free.. Just get your bursary application in on time..)
– “I went to medical school so I could help people, not so I could get extra clever at Neuroscience!”
– “I want to choose my foundation jobs and get the hell out of (Enter current city) and move to (Enter envisioned greener grass)!”
– “I’m just not that interested in spending an extra year with my bum on a seat, studying hard!”
-“BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!”
FOR A BSc:
A BSc is a great way to explore and further areas of your own interests. It could be something you had never previously considered, like philosophy, or something more established such as Anatomy.
Some modules such as Extreme Physiology or Advanced Human Anatomy will broaden areas that are only briefly touched upon in the normal medical curriculum – after all, only a select subgroup of people will require this knowledge in their clinical careers.
In addition, as you progress up the medical ladder you lose breadth in knowledge necessary to practice- Will a gastroenterologist regularly need the knowledge of the biomechanics of the ankle and foot joints?
See, you may find a BSc is the final chance you have to explore an interest! Who knows, this nurtured interest may continue shape your future career.
Future career prospects
If you’re already gunning for a surgical position, an Anatomy BSc could be an excellent choice to gain much needed experience, anatomical knowledge and exposure to surgery.
However, many medical students are not so sure about their future paths. In this case, a BSc still offers benefits in the form of interesting research, study skills and opportunities to travel to present work at international conferences.
When it comes to foundation applications, having BSc to your name can be invaluable. It’ll offer up to 4 points with the standard FPAS application and be a necessity if applying for an academic foundation post.
For many, this is the gem of taking a BSc. Through the process of selecting modules and organising timetables, you may find you have several days free in the working week.
Could this be time you could allocate to sweating out in athletic pursuits, growing a blog, exploring creative endeavours or starting a business?
Have a break.
No, not a chocolate bar. A real strong dam that can halt the strong currents of medical school.
Some of my frustrations as a student are found when I feel I lose autonomy, the choice to decide both my actions at present and in the future. If you share the feeling, perhaps taking a break from the medical school pathway will provide lasting refreshment, invigorating future efforts upon returning to the next clinical year.
I’m a great believer that decisions should have all factors considered and weighed before the crunch time. Abe Lincoln probably said something along the lines of “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Preparation and skill development is key before starting anything with large consequences.
So Take A Break and get Value Added Time –
Sometimes Time is what you need; be it to mature ideas, find new direction or to seal your current vocations. Find out a bit more about yourself. It all helps to make sure the direction you’re heading in is the best path for you.
There you have it – some of my considerations when deciding to take a BSc. No bias intended, but I’m planning to take a BSc next year if I can – between 4th and 5th year.
I’m currently interested in exploring Anatomy, however topics such as Healthcare Management and Global health have caught my interest and will be invaluable in the years ahead of a healthcare system (and world).
If you’re interested in taking a BSc in the future, view a huge selection of available courses on the intercalate.co.uk website.
What do you think? If you have taken a BSc, what did you learn? If you have opted not to take one, why?
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