All of a sudden I am tied up in my quest for reputable Access to Medicine course. My heart says The Manchester College (MANCAT) but my head favours Lambeth. I have tried to assess the pros and cons of each programme and cannot truly see which one to pick. I understand the acceptability of access courses varies between medical schools and it is essential to check this prior to embarking on an access course.
Both access courses are accepted by significant number of medical schools including St. Andrews (Bute), Manchester (Stopford), Southampton (SOTON), Brighton and Sussex (BSMS), Leicester, Kings (KCL) and the like. In addition, Lambeth is accepted by St. Georges (SGUL) for the 5 year programme as long as the mature applicant has 416 points from his/her top 8 GCSEs as a school leaver, which is a bit daunting. SGULs six-year programme in addition asks three years work experience. MANCAT has also the advantage of being considered by a lot more – including Liverpool (and its sister programme at Lancaster), Keele, Bradford (both for the foundation and clinical science programme, the latter enabling progress into 2nd year medicine at Leeds) and Newcastle. Both courses would also pave the way for medicine with foundation year at most medical schools, which I am not fond off as doing an access course and heading into a foundation year is a total waste of time for mature applicants – would I have to spend the extra year as spare I prefer to intercalate in a related field than doing a similar course twice – say doing an intercalated degree in Anatomy if one wishes to progress into surgery.
Regarding the course curriculum, the course at Lambeth is more tailored to medicine in my opinion than the more plain MANCAT layout.
Subject areas covered in Lambeth are:
- Medical Sciences (Physics)
- Human Anatomy and Physiology
- Chemistry and Biological Chemistry
- Study Skills including Mathematics
- Health issues
- Health sciences: biology
Even if MANCAT’s curriculum is designed in co-operation with Manchester Medical School, I have come to understand it is a bit daunting to be able to get an offer from it. Students from MANCAT’s course has received offers from Manchester, Leicester, Cardiff, BSMS, Southampton, Lancaster and interviews from Keele , Liverpool and the like. On the other hand, I have heard that KCL has not accepted applicants from Lambeth’s Access to Medicine course for 2011 entry, and so do St Georges, which effectively rules out the chance to get into the London medical schools as the remaining – Queen Mary Medical School (QMUL), Imperial College (only related with Thames Valley Uni’s) and University College London (UCL), which only considers City and Islington’s College and College of West Anglia (COWA), do not consider access qualifications from either MANCAT or Lambeth. From the two Access to Medicine and Biomedical Science classes in offer at Lambeth, four from each received offers from BSMS, Cardiff, Bute Medical School and to study other medical related programmes at London Uni’s, including Kings. Hence, in terms of progressing applicants into medical school MANCAT has a better track record and many who have been rejected from MANCAT access course will be accepted at Lambeth, proving how selective the former is. I am curious to dig more from their alumni to assess which of the two courses is more rigorous in depth and closeness to the traditional A levels. The Maths part in Lambeth’s case seems a bit inept but is compensated by the fact that courses on ‘Health issues’ are incorporated in it.
In terms of the assessment criteria both schools have become selective. MANCAT needs a minimum of GCSE ‘B’ in Math and English to enrol you in their programme or a commitment to retake it (provided work experience and other academic credentials permitting) alongside the access course which they do not favour. The computerised entrance exam (Bksb) in my view is a lot weaker when compared to that of Lambeth’s paper-based assessment and cannot in no way differentiate, say, an applicant to medicine and engineering – it is that far inept and generic. The latter’s assessment, in particular the written part, is more tailored to the knowledge base a person wishing to pursue a career in medicine is expected to be aware of. Lambeth’s staff is also well equipped with highly respected medical professionals (including a consultant) who retired and switched to the academic profession – an invaluable benefit to aspiring students in understanding the nature of the career path chosen through witnessing the fact from people who have passed through it, seen it all and achieved a lot, whereas in MANCAT lecture is only taught by people with science background. Not only is there a difference in the calibre of lecturers but the Clapham centre for Lambeth’s Access to Medicine has state-of-the-art teaching facilities that motivate applicants. Regarding MANCAT, the Northenden campus is more interesting than the more or less dull Nicholls – though we always say it is only the reputations that matter at the end.