On my way to becoming a doctor

Bethan Carter, Medical Science graduate 2015

Bethan Carter, 23, from Caerphilly, graduated with first-class Honours from the BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences.

Bethan was presented with the Award Leader's Prize for Outstanding Performance and the Society of Biology Outstanding Bioscience Student Award.

She also won the Oxford University Press Achievement in Biosciences Prize at the end of her first year. She has now secured a place on the Graduate Entry Medicine Programme (MBBCh) at Swansea University.

Why Medical Sciences

For me, the primary draw of BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences was the partnership between USW and Cardiff University School of Medicine which offers a select number of students the opportunity to apply to study Medicine at Cardiff University as a four year Graduate Entry programme. 

The course provides a good balance of traditional science (e.g. Biochemistry), social science (e.g. Anthropology, Health Policy) and Clinical Practice modules, which together provide the well-rounded basis required to become a competent doctor. I enjoyed the variety and the effort to address the different aspects of medicine, as an academic discipline and as a profession.

Human cadaver

In my final year I was privileged enough to be one of the eleven students chosen to undertake a human cadaver dissection at Cardiff University School of Medicine. Although I had spent a lot of my first two years of this course learning anatomy via textbooks and models, I don't think that I fully appreciated the complexity and ingenuity of the human body until I undertook this dissection and the lessons that I have learnt from it are ones that I will carry with me throughout my medical career.

This was also the project that my dissertation was based on and I feel very lucky to have had such a unique and interesting experience to document and reflect upon.

Clinical placements

In the first and second year I completed work placements within local hospitals. During these I attended outpatient clinics, learned how to take medical histories with medical students, shadowed an F1 doctor for a week and followed an F2 doctor while he was on-call. I even got to scrub up for operations in theatre.

All of these experiences gave me real, first-hand exposure to the highs and lows of a medical career.

I also had the opportunity to learn how to assess a patient's vital signs, take blood, insert a cannula and practice suturing, as well as learning other key clinical skills. I have learnt practical and clinical skills and have been introduced to the wide variety of medical specialities available for doctors.

It has also helped me to realise where my interests in medicine lie and I feel that I am much more informed about the details of a medical career than I was when I was taking my A-levels. As a result, I now hope to pursue a speciality that I probably would never have considered before completing this course.  

My advice

Although many graduates of this course have been successful in securing places at medical schools all over the UK, this course is by no means an easy way to get into medicine. It's hard work and requires effort and commitment from day one. However, the opportunities that you will get throughout these three years will be incredibly useful and, in some cases, unique for this type of course and will all contribute to making you a strong candidate for jobs or further study.