For some students, choosing which subject to study at university can be a difficult decision. For aspiring doctors, nursing and healthcare professionals, however, their desire to study medicine is typically established early on.

While you might be certain about your subject choice, selecting a university or medical school isn’t so easy. With so many factors to consider, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach when deciding where to apply. To ensure you’ve got everything covered, take a look at these top factors to bear in mind when you’re choosing a medical school:

1. What specialisms are on offer?

If you already know you’re destined to be a clinician, you may also have a burning desire to specialise in a particular area of medicine or patient care. If so, you’ll want to ensure that your chosen university offers courses, modules and practical experience in these areas. Most medical schools are linked with particular areas of expertise, so be sure to take this into account when you’re whittling down your choices.

2. What are the entrance requirements?

Applying for a place at medical school is a little different than applying for most other university courses. For starters, you’ll need to learn how to prepare for the GAMSAT if you want to secure a place on a degree course. However, some institutions have their own specific admissions criteria, so looking at the entrance requirements in detail will always stand you in good stead.

Choosing a school with entrance requirements that are well matched to your expertise and current grades will increase the likelihood of being offered a place. While applying for top medical schools can be a motivating factor to help you study, selecting a range of schools with varying entry requirements can reduce the pressure and increase the chances of your application being successful.

3. Where do you want to study?

When it comes to choosing a university, location is critical for any student. You may want to stay close to home so you can continue residing at your current address or keep holding down a part-time job, for example. Alternatively, you may be eager to move away and have a fresh start in a new location.

Most university campuses are well-equipped with amenities and facilities, but you’ll need to think about the type of environment you want to live and learn in too. Some students prefer to be situated in a busy city, while others enjoy the relative tranquillity that rural locations offer.

4. What courses are available?

Studying medicine isn’t as simple as applying for one type of course. As an undergraduate, you’ll have the opportunity to enrol in a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree, while the postgraduate Doctorate of Medicine (MD) offers additional research based components and worldwide recognition.

While both courses will enable you to pursue a career in medicine, it’s worth looking at the postgraduate study options a university offers before you decide where to apply. If you want to enhance your qualifications by undertaking a Master’s, you may prefer to remain enrolled with the same institution. By confirming what courses are available prior to enrolling as an undergraduate, you can ensure that your chosen school can offer the facilities and courses you’re most likely to apply for in the future.

5. How lively is the social aspect?

The social aspect of university is key for any student, so this is certainly something you’ll want to pay attention to! While medicine is a notoriously tough subject, everyone needs time to let their hair down and kick back with friends. Medical schools typically have a range of societies and groups that offer students unique opportunities, such as attending guest lectures.

However, it’s important to look at the campus-wide social opportunities too. As well as joining medical groups and societies, there will be plenty of unrelated social groups to be part of too. From sporting teams and clubs to religious groups and special interest societies, there’s something for everyone, providing you choose the right university to apply to.

When to Choose a Medical School

Prior to taking the GAMSAT and applying to study medicine, you may already have your heart set on attending a specific medical school. While it may turn out that your instincts were right and your dream school is the perfect choice for you, don’t neglect to explore other options. Virtual tours and campus open days are the ultimate way to really get to know a university, so take the opportunity to visit as many as possible before you choose your preferred schools.