UCL Medical School


Student Stories

Target Medicine Student Stories

Read what our students have to say about their experiences Target Medicine. 

De Jun

I wasn’t particularly sure whether I could or even wanted to enter medicine before the summer school. I had the impression that someone with my background would find it difficult to enter such a competitive profession and I only had very small musings about pursuing medicine in any case. These musings did lead me to find the summer school and I am very glad I did. It has been immeasurably useful. It made me want to be a Doctor, it helped me realise why I wanted to become a Doctor and, most importantly, it convinced me I could.

My time there is a now a bit of a blur but I do distinctly remember how amazingly helpful the medical students and various health professionals were. The medical students in charge of my group were in particular incredibly enthusiastic and definitely sold medicine, medical school and UCL to me. The things I learnt and experienced were rather basic compared to what I did later on in the year but everything is still as relevant and useful today. I learnt about the roles of other health professionals, how to approach ethical issues, basic clinical skills and about medicine as a career. All these things were constantly repeated to me at my various work experience placements, at various medical conferences yet I knew it all already because of the people at the summer school. It was a considerable advantage to already have that basic knowledge of medicine and medical school.

The summer school also helped me to really become proactive about pursuing medicine and led me to find some work experience and volunteering placements which again was a significant advantage. I managed to secure some work experience early on before the rush of prospective medics descended on weary hospital work experience co-ordinators all over London.

I also started keeping a diary cataloguing work experience placements and any thoughts on medicine I had, all in preparation for my interviews and personal statement.

The support from the summer school didn’t stop just at the summer school. Throughout the year I have been going to help sessions specifically designed to help medical applicants with admissions tests, personal statement drafting and interviews. More than anything these sessions helped calm me down and gave me the confidence to tackle whatever it was whether it was a test or an interview. Those sessions taught and helped me far more than a book or teacher ever could have. It also helped that again it was run by UCL medical students and staff.

All in all, Target Medicine has had a significant impact on me and is definitely one of the major reasons why I managed to secure even one offer and why I became so enthused by medicine in the first place. I would definitely recommend it to any student looking at entering medicine.

Lady Namera

The Summer School was a week that I will never forget. I attended Our Lady’s Convent, which has a small sixth form so I did not know anyone who was interested in studying and pursuing a career in medicine. Therefore spending a week surrounded by peers who were also wanted to study medicine was exciting and really encouraging. Being mentored by medical students and having exposure to so many aspects of the medical profession allowed me to genuinely understand what this course involves. It was invaluable to be able to ask questions about life as a medical student and I think for most of us it was gave us the confidence to seriously contemplate applying for the course.

By taking part in sessions such as clinical skills, I was able to appreciate what a uniquely varied course medicine is and was intrigued by the fact that it can never be mastered. As the week progressed I began to feel that I may have some qualities that could one day allow me to be a good doctor. These feelings of self-belief as a result of great advice and support from those who organised the summer school greatly contributed to me deciding to apply to study medicine.

Fortunately, this support continued after the Summer School with sessions which prepared us for making our applications. They covered the often nerve-racking aspects such as writing a personal statement and interviews. Our questions were answered by medical students who had been through the process successfully. This really helped to reassure me about what to expect, especially since no one in my family had previously been to university.

I think that the Summer School was a springboard in my ambition to study medicine. It made the idea an actual reality as well as providing me with all the support you could ask for in what is a highly competitive application process. I have been privileged enough to have been offered places at UCL and King’s College London. The summer school’s success is evidence of the hard work that goes in to organising it which allows people like me to benefit.

Negin, Zoya and Nadir

As a 16-year-old doing GCSEs at an inner city school, the idea of studying medicine seemed a dream in a distant future. Only vaguely aware of the academic and emotional demands of such a career path, the process still felt like a mountain to climb despite encouragement from our schools. We first learnt of the Dick Whittington Summer School (DWSS), then but a pilot scheme for potential medical applicants from Islington comprehensive secondary schools, through our science teachers. Some of us saw it as an opportunity to decide if medicine was the right choice, and others- as a starting point to pursuing that ambition. Being interviewed for the summer school was daunting and made us realise that passion for medicine was not enough.

Our first experience of medicine at the summer school captured the essence of the profession: patient contact...

“I was suddenly exposed to many aspects of the medical profession: communication with patients and colleagues; team work in preparing a Grand Round; and clinical skills...

Having just arrived in the UK that academic year, much of it was spent frantically catching up with work; my previous education had also focused strongly on competition and working solo. The summer school was the first time I faced my apprehension of working in a team and speaking to an audience, and the last time I ever questioned my decision to apply for medicine. Receiving an exciting but realistic view of medicine, and having to practically think about the application began to solidify my dream into a plan.” (Z.G.)

“For me, the opportunity to speak to patients of different backgrounds, with chronic diseases, and to later discuss the management of such patients at the Ground Round, was absolutely crucial to my understanding of the main purpose of medicine as a profession. Similar to my colleague, having just been in the UK for one year prior to the DWSS, most of my time was spent on learning the English language and achieving the necessary GCSE grades; thus it was not until the summer school that I became better familiar with the life of medical students and doctors, and the core skills required for such a profession.” (NDA)

“The summer school was much more than a simple 5 day taster to medicine. It not only provided a means by which we were able to channel our passion into obtainable goals, but also instilled a self-belief which I have carried with me ever since. The level of support that we all received from our time at the summer school continued through our sixth form education; attending a BMAT session, interview sessions, as well as receiving tips on writing personal statements. Despite this guidance, we were always encouraged to take responsibility for ourselves, which only aided in helping us mature as prospective medical students.” (NC)

Having been inspired by the ethos of the summer school, we realised the need for the students like ourselves, to be given these opportunities. As current students at UCL Medical School, we continue to feel indebted to the hard work and the dedication of those who guided us to this destination. We remain an integral part of their objective, through Target Medicine and the DWSS. We have, between us, organised and delivered UKCAT, BMAT, and mock interview sessions, having matured into senior mentors over the last 3 years. We believe our ongoing journey together has helped shape who we are as individuals and future professionals. Now in our 4th year at university, we each continue to use our developing skills:

“During the summer school, my mentors were and have since been a true inspiration for me. With the aim that one day I would be able to guide another student through the path that I have taken, my work (and interest) in widening participation remain central in my current role as the senior president of the medical students’ union (RUMS).” (N.A.)

“The skills which I have been able to develop over the past few years have been invaluable in my progression as a medical student. As well as taking part in many extra-curricular activities, my passion to widening participation has been focused in my current role as the student lead for the UCL-based wing of Target Medicine.” (N.C.)

“The two personally most notable things I gained on the Dick Whittington Summer School are intangible: an increase in confidence; and a keen sense of equality. Both have influenced me significantly: in equipping me with the enthusiasm and skills to mentor and teach on Target Medicine and at anatomy tutorials in medical school; and in my interest as a singer in the UCL chorus and opera.” Z.G.

It is truly concerning that there are still many students with the potential for success in medicine and yet limited by the lack of support they receive; this situation is only escalated by the current rising tuition fees. Schemes like Target Medicine are thus invaluable in motivating young students to persevere despite the current barriers. Our experiences are a testament to the success of Target Medicine and the summer school, and we hope that more students are given the privilege to partake in such an opportunity.