Preparing to Apply

Close up of a student writing in a notebook

It is important for you to demonstrate your motivation towards a career in medicine and show evidence that you will be able to acquire the values important in medicine. The Medical Schools Council have produced relevant and helpful guidance to help you understand these. In our selection process at Birmingham, you will be assessed on how well you align with these values. 

We can assure you that, at a Birmingham Medical School interview, an assessment of the values you hold will not require you to draw upon face-to-face experiences of healthcare. We will re-focus the interview experience, in part, towards an assessment of how well you have reflected on the resources we provide here. Therefore, even if you have previously had face-to-face experience in a clinical setting you should not assume that this will substitute for the learning you will acquire from these materials. 

Arranging, undertaking and effective reflection on face-to-face experiences requires a great deal of time and effort. You must be at least as committed to learning and developing your understanding of healthcare practice through on-line activity and research. 

Preparation for interview and indeed for study on a medicine course is aided by engaging in frequent discussions with friends and family about medical issues in the news and media as well as these resources. It is essential that you have as much practise as possible in explaining and justifying your opinions in one-to-one and group discussions.

Where to start

We will not test your factual knowledge of, for example, systems and structures in the body, and certainly not your medical knowledge. Remember, we are assessing your values and how the resources below have impacted on you. 

It is very useful to have a broad understanding of the medical profession. Health Education England have produced a helpful booklet (HEE: Careers in Medicine). Understanding what it is that underpins the profession is also important. Do you know any of the NHS core values? Do you know about the role of the General Medical Council, particularly in relation to medical students (GMC: Achieving Good Medical Practice)? The NHS England and NICE websites provides interesting reports about how science is informing medical practice. 

In recognition of the need to support applicants at this time, the Medical Schools Council have produced updated guidance on work experience.

You will note that we suggest you use many of the same resources. Therefore, you can be reassured that preparation for interview at the University of Birmingham will assist with other medicine applications. 


As all doctors understand, reflection is vital. The Royal College of General Practitioners have written an excellent document that explains why reflection is important and how to reflect: Reflective Diary

The introductory sections of this document is a great place to start before you delve into the resources. Once you do start to reflect, we advise that you evaluate each resource using a reflection template. 

Simulated patient interactions with healthcare professionals

If you have been unable to observe a professional delivering care or support or been unable to do this yourself, the next best experience is a virtual patient interaction. The Royal College of General Practitioners have produced an on-line platform called Observe GP. Within this platform there are four patient encounters with different members of the healthcare team at a GP surgery. Take your time working through the entre activity and ensure that you engage fully. You will need to register to use Observe GP but it is free to use.

Insight into the complexities of healthcare practice

Brighton and Sussex Medical School have produced a Virtual Work Experience online platform. This is also excellent and covers a whole range of healthcare specialties. There is a great deal of information, many opportunities for you to check your learning as well as some simulated patient interactions. Again, you need to register. There is an opportunity for you to receive a certificate for completing this course but we will not ask to see this. We advise that you use the RCGP reflection diary templates as you work through each section.


Doctors recounting their experiences can provide excellent insight. Some of these raise challenging issues but that is the nature of a profession where the stakes are very high:

Hospital Dr Blogs

Doctor's Association Blogs

General guidance

The Medical Schools Council provide much additional information and guidance to support applicants for medicine. Check out their website:

MSC Studying Medicine 

Developing your personal qualities

Though the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many restrictions on what we are able to do however there are still opportunities for you to engage with and support others, even if you do not leave the house. Many of you may already be doing this but we suggest registering with or Do IT and offering your support. You will need to be prepared to meet whatever need you come across but some examples are providing on-line academic support to students, delivering food to vulnerable people and speaking on the phone to those who cannot go out.

Doctor profiles

Read an overview on what inspired five Doctors, to join the profession. 

Doctor profiles 

Support for school and college students applying for healthcare degrees

This section on the website is dedicated to different healthcare degrees with a variety of resources including resources on what it is like working in the National Health Service.

Support for school and college students applying for healthcare degrees