Medicine as a 2nd degree

Studying medicine as a second degree is an increasingly popular option with graduates and some institutions offer accelerated courses.


Entry is extremely competitive, courses last at least four years and often five years, and many students have to fund themselves throughout their study. Not all these courses require a science-based first-degree, but a certain level of scientific knowledge will be expected. Academic ability is not enough; you also need to be able to relate to patients and to be emotionally resilient. Make an effort to find out about, and understand, the demands that will be made of you by talking to doctors and gaining related experience.

Admissions tutors will need to be convinced of your motivation. Make sure you can explain why you want to study medicine, and why you want to study it now. 

Start planning your Personal Statement early as it will take you longer to write than to think. You need to be very organised to apply and go for interviews during your final undergraduate year.

Work experience and skills development 

It’s essential to have relevant work experience. You will need to show a clear understanding of what a career in medicine involves, and experience of working with people in a caring or service role. Working with people in different settings (in particular with people who are ill, disabled or disadvantaged) will help you to demonstrate your ability to communicate with all sorts of people and to handle different situations and challenges.  

A guide to work experience can be found on the UK Medical Schools Council website. 

Medical Schools Council - Work experience 

 Some suggestions for building experience: 

  •  Contact the HR department of your local hospital or Regional Health Board (NHS Trust in England) to arrange work shadowing. Some hospitals or health boards have a work experience coordinator who could help with this. NHS Lothian offers work experience that you can apply for through their website.

  • Check MyCareerHub regularly for opportunities. Look, too, at the expired opportunities and the employer search to find organisations which have advertised vacancies in the past and can be bookmarked for future opportunities or possibly contacted through a speculative application. 
  • Register with recruitment agencies who specialise in finding staff for nursing homes and residential care homes. Information on using recruitment agencies is available on our website. 

Recruitment agencies

  • Consider working as a Healthcare Assistant with the staff bank at your local NHS Health Board or NHS Trust. Flexible part-time vacancies in a hospital setting may fit in with your academic commitments. Look for vacancies on the NHS jobs sites.

NHS Jobs Scotland 

NHS Jobs England & Wales  

  • Voluntary work is just as valuable as paid work and doesn’t have to be in a clinical setting. For information on finding suitable voluntary work use the information in the Build Experience section on our website.

Build Experience

  • Networking with medical professionals and current medical students is a great way of getting informative, up-to-date advice and demonstrates your commitment and interest in the sector.


  • Student societies and charities are great for gaining transferable skills such as team work, leadership and planning. Some also offer patient facing experience. Find out more about student societies on the Students Association Website

 Students Association - Societies 

  •  Make use of online resources, including Brighton and Sussex Medical School’s free virtual work experience course exploring different medical specialities, and the Royal College of General Practitioners’ platform, Observe GP, which highlights aspects of primary care. 

Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Observe GP

Remember to reflect on what you learnt from your work experience and volunteering - quality is more important than quantity.

Choosing courses 

Some UK medical schools offer a four-year accelerated medical degree specifically for graduates. Your other option is the five-year, or 6-year, standard undergraduate medical degree. These are all classed as undergraduate degrees. 

The UK Medical Schools Council provides an overview of courses and entry requirements.  It’s an excellent starting point, but it’s always wise to contact individual medical schools to discuss their entry requirements.

UK Medical Schools Council

The BMA is also a good source of information.


When choosing your course think about: 

  • Style of teaching - some medical schools use the traditional methods of lecturing and clinical observation, others use problem-based learning (PBL) or case-based learning (CBL). What style suits you best? 
  • Location and facilities - you will be based there for four years or more, so try to attend an Open Day before you apply. Take this opportunity to speak to current students. 

  • Competition – some institutions are more competitive than others. Contact medical schools to find out their admissions statistics.

Compare data on different undergraduate medical courses on the Discover Uni website.

Discover Uni

ScotGEM - This is a joint programme by University of St Andrews and University of Dundee. It is designed to develop doctors interested in a career as a generalist practitioner within NHS Scotland. ScotGEM offers a unique and innovative four-year graduate entry medical programme tailored to meet the contemporary and future needs of the NHS in Scotland and focuses on rural medicine and healthcare improvement.

Scottish Graduate Entry Medicine (ScotGEM)

UoE HCP-Med for Healthcare Professionals - This is a new medical degree for healthcare professionals, allowing those already working for two or more years in healthcare and who are professionally registered to pursue a medicine degree.

HCP-Med for Healthcare Professionals


Advice about funding is difficult to give because it depends on many different factors and may change from year to year. You must research this carefully.

Your country of domicile (where you live when you’re not studying) is one of the factors which will influence the funding available to you. Other factors are whether the course is accelerated or not, and where you will be studying.

Scottish-domiciled students should check funding with SAAS, students from the rest of the UK should check with Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales or Student Finance Northern Ireland. Special funding arrangements are in place for the ScotGEM degree.


The NHS provides some funding for students normally resident in England, but this is dependent on individual circumstances. Generally speaking, there is more funding available for the accelerated courses. Standard five-year courses do not qualify for NHS bursaries until the fifth year. You can check details on the NHS website.

NHS Student Services

The British Medical Association (BMA) provides a very helpful series of guides for students.

BMA Funding Guide

Charities and trusts can be a source of funding but don’t expect them to cover more than a small proportion of your costs. 

Medical schools will tell you if any funding is available through them.

A significant number of graduates have to self-fund. The demands of the course can make it very difficult to combine it with a part-time job. 



Most medical schools require you to sit entrance tests such as UCAT, BMAT and GAMSAT before you submit your application.


2023 UCAT Official Guide



Some tests are held only once each year so check the dates well in advance or risk having to wait another year. Also check which tests are requested by the medical schools to which you intend to apply.

Dates of test sittings, details of how to register, and practice materials are on the websites of the test providers.

Practising will improve your score. 


Applications and interviews 

You can apply to up to four medical schools, via UCAS. The closing date is 15th October.


Your personal statement should demonstrate your commitment and motivation, relevant skills and experience. Be concise. Avoid clichés and sweeping statements. Further advice on writing personal statements and a list of the core values and attributes required can be found on the Medical schools council website.

Medical School Council – personal statement 

Choose your referee carefully. Give them plenty of time to write your reference. Discuss your application with them in advance so they can write a tailored reference.

There are several types of interview, so it is recommended that applicants become familiar with the different types used. Information on the different interview types can be found on the Medical Schools Council website. Be able to express an opinion on current issues in medicine and the NHS.

Medical Schools Council - interviews

Examples of interview questions asked by medical schools can be found on many different websites including NHS careers and the Royal College of Surgeons. These can be helpful when preparing for interview but ensure that you check what is being looked for by individual medical schools.

NHS careers – Interviews for medical school

Royal College of Surgeons – Medical school interview questions

If you don’t get in first time, try not to be too discouraged. Most medical schools will allow you to reapply the following year and it is not unusual for medical students to have applied more than once before being successful. Ask for feedback and if you decide to apply again use the extra year to deal with any weaknesses.