Medefine – Leicester Medical School
Akash Mavilakandy

My name is Akash and I am an Indian International student from the University of Leicester. I am currently in third year and thoroughly enjoying the medical course. However, my interest in pursuing medicine developed rather later than most. I feel a big reason behind this was that I did not have a clear idea of what it was like to be a doctor. I knew that the profession was based on the fundamental purpose of helping and caring for people. I appreciated this noble and admirable cause, but was also conscious of other occupations which could also fulfil that role.

To get a realistic idea of what medicine would be like, I spent a summer working in a local hospital in India. It was from this invaluable work experience that I got to see how important a doctor’s role is to society. It made me aware of how much commitment, hard work and sincerity this profession demands. My summer stint at the hospital heralded my motivation to seek a career in medicine. While it may seem like my interest developed rather late, I firmly believe that if the interest is grounded in practical experience rather than lofty notions of what the discipline may constitute, this may prove more fruitful. Sometimes realisation takes time and a later age allows you to maturely contemplate and decide what you want to do.

Once I made the decision to try to pursue a career in medicine, the next step was to decide where to apply. This was not an easy decision to make as, unlike local fees, International applicant fees vary considerably between Universities. As the decision to attend medical school is already a significant financial investment, it is important to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and find the right balance between quality and affordability. It was while I was researching and assessing each University’s A100 course that I came across Leicester University. I found Leicester University to be a good fit for me as it seemed both financially feasible and academically strong.

A clinical year at Leicester University is approximately 33,500 pounds and there are a total of three clinical years in the course. My advice when applying for medicine is that the rankings should not be the sole motivator behind your university choices. My reasoning behind this is that firstly, rankings are transformative and never stay the same, and secondly, that most medical institutions are standardised across the board and provide a high standard of education that prepares you for a career as a doctor. Another factor that should be considered is the curriculum. Leicester University, for example, employs an integrated syllabus. This was ideal for me as I find that learning in lectures and then applying this theoretical knowledge practically in group work is effective.

In addition to academic factors, I also focussed on the University city. Leicester is a vibrant, multicultural city which has something for everyone. I was especially ecstatic after I saw the large number of indian restaurants which made me feel like I was close to home. The fact that major Indian festivals like Holi and Diwali are celebrated in a big way is also fantastic. Another big plus is the affordability and comparatively low cost of living. Rent is quite reasonable for decently-sized houses.

Joining the course was a very straightforward experience as we were all assigned a medic family.The medic parents were seniors who volunteered to help out first years and were particularly helpful and had a calming presence. I felt a lot more settled after speaking and spending time with my medic family as they always shared their advice and experience.

The lectures were very well timed (approximately 2 hours/day), which meant that we were not overloaded with information and managed to retain a lot of the information. There was a strong emphasis on the practical side of Medicine, including patient communication and clinical skills. Multiple patient simulations were organised to prepare us right from the beginning. Not long after the simulations, we were given the opportunity to visit a real patient on a regular basis. I felt that this was especially helpful as you got to experience first hand how it feels to have a patient, and the responsibility that comes with it.

The availability of cadavers from the first day was another highlight as that made anatomy so much more interesting. This also ensured that each one of us got decent exposure of human anatomy and were able to practice dissection. As a result of this our learning has been very thorough, allowing us to retain the large curriculum which can be assessed at any time (all topics from year 1-year 5 may be assessed at any time).

In terms of infrastructure and facilities, including the top-class dissection room, the medical school has also built a new medical school building complete with state-of- the-art technology.

I have wholeheartedly enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, my time at Leicester University. I feel as though I have been able to get the work-life balance right. University hours are not particularly long and this allows you to have and maintain hobbies or get involved with various societies, which I think is especially important in this career path. Most importantly the strong focus on practical skills has made me understand, appreciate and enjoy the course even more and will hopefully allow me to see the fruits of my labour in the near future.

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