A level "crammers" for aspiring medics from France?

(15 Posts)
shockthemonkey Sun 04-Feb-18 12:10:41

Have just met a wonderful young student who is struggling through her first year of medical prépa in France. The way the medical prépa system works is that you are admitted with a pass in the Sciences stream of the Baccalaureate. Never mind if your chemistry, maths and biology grades were low... as long as you passed your Bac. They then "select" in the course of the first and second years, setting exams and kicking out those who were not in the top 10%.

This student is likely to be kicked out of prépa, and wants to go to medical school in the UK. She is absolutely determined and very brave, but her Bac grades are simply not sufficient -- she got 11.5 overall with under 10 in maths and chemistry. So no way.

However, with a year of medical prépa behind her (lots of biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics and maths) she may have a shot at biology, chemistry and maths A levels... and if she does well, could then have a shot at medical school in the UK.

She is very young for her year.

Does anyone have any thoughts and also, know of any good A-level colleges in London for her? I have found MPW who look good...

I would love to help her.


OP’s posts: |
antimatter Sun 04-Feb-18 12:14:05

OT - I hope you've explained to her that Chemistry is one of the toughest A levels to get an A in?

PenguinsandPandas Sun 04-Feb-18 12:28:31

I would maybe phone one of the medical schools admissions in the UK and see if they will help advise. Tbh I think they may well be out of reach if she only got 11.5 in the BAC even with an extra year. Even if she could get in would she be able to keep up.

She may be better looking at alternatives in France/UK but being more realistic about what's achievable as French courses do admit too many and kick out at end of y1. Not an expert but DH is French and had a friend who got on to medical course in France and wasn't suitable (languages background with poor science) - got kicked out end y1 and DH said to me she would have been better trying pharmacy. She completely gave up.

Needmoresleep Sun 04-Feb-18 12:43:52

DLD? Ashbourne?

There are lots. The trick is to work out what the balance is between bright students wanting to accelerate A levels and those who have had to leave previous schools.

Have you read the medical threads. First Chemistry is tough, especially in a year, switching language and being new to the English system. Second French students don't seem to do much in the way of volunteering and work experience in preparation for a medical school application. Being brave is one thing. Being empathetic is another.

If she is hoping to apply to medical schools in parallel with her A levels she may struggle. She will need to take UKCAT/BMAT right at the start. Then her college will need to be able to write a reference having only known her a couple of weeks. British medical schools don't normally consider applicants who have dropped out of other British medical schools. And so may apply the same restrictions to a French applicant.

I would look further afield. Malta, Poland, Check Republic, maybe Malaysia/Nottingham or Grenada.

Kez100 Sun 04-Feb-18 13:14:52

My friends daughter decided to study chemistry A level after year one of A levels and she changed her mind to want to study a degree that needed it (not medicine). Her state (but excellent) college would not let her do the new style A level in one year they said it was too tough. So she ended up doing three years of A levels and she pulled off an A grade.

shockthemonkey Sun 04-Feb-18 15:39:11

Thanks so much. She is bilingual (English dominant) so the language will be fine. Have spoken to her about work experience and though she has some of that she'll need to top it up next year she realises. Thanks for all the pointers... calling some medical schools seems like a great idea.

OP’s posts: |
PenguinsandPandas Sun 04-Feb-18 15:49:04

I think calling them is worth a try, if you can get a visit that might be even better. I think the determination is really good but just need to make sure its not going to be wasted on something that isn't achievable. Maybe worth asking her what part of medicine if she knows to see if there are other easier fields to enter.


Oxfordmedic Sun 04-Feb-18 22:26:57

I would n't encourage her unless she had very strong extenuating reasons for her poor Bac score. She may be able to tackle A levels to start with as she has had an extra year to work on the subject matter but that is only a short-term respite to having to keep-up for A levels let alone medical school. She is better off retaking prepa a second year and then reorientating to an allied subject depending on her score.

shockthemonkey Mon 05-Feb-18 10:45:42

Thanks again. Hmm. I will pass all of this on. Lots to consider and for her to decide (with her parents).

And sleep you're right that it's a huge challenge doing A levels, work experience and UKCAT all in the same year. However, she's surviving a really tough prépa timetable (but only just).

I met her and saw her eyes well up when talking about her motivation to be a medic. As some of you have said though, that kind of passion might be best re-directed towards an allied field.

Which she might struggle with.

OP’s posts: |
Needmoresleep Mon 05-Feb-18 12:44:10

Why is she wanting to study in the UK? Will she want to practice in the UK or France. This is worth considering, as they are very different careers. Medical degrees are in the UK are part subsidised by the NHS and the training, to some extent assumes that you go on an work in the British public sector. I assume selection is partly based on an applicant's suitability for the NHS. Resilience?!

(I don't know too much about French medicine, though know that many London French insist on commuting back home for even the most routine appointments. The wife of a French banquier, who had spent much of her adult life in London described with horror her first exposure to a London A&E. No private rooms!)

Entry to medical degrees in the UK is very competitive. The big advantage is that if you are accepted it is because you are seen as having the potential to finish the course. Hence the need for As and A*s, plus aptitude tests. There is a common French assumption that the Bac is harder because it involves more work, ergo A levels are easier. That is not really true. Because a student only takes three subjects the content of Chemistry and Maths A levels especially, can be demanding. It is not unusual for a hard-working but less gifted student to become unstuck at this point.

The UK has always recruited plenty of doctors from overseas. I don't know if that is true in France. This makes it perhaps less of a leap for British students to study abroad, coupled with the fact that the UK does not train enough Doctors, so there is a good chance overseas trained Brits will find jobs here on qualification. It is quite a maze and I would be tempted to use a recognised consultancy, but a useful starting point is to google "study medicine abroad". Even Spain and The Netherlands offer initial years teaching in English, though you obviously need to have picked up the language before seeing patients. Some of the Central European medical schools are very well regarded. One or two others, or at least from what I picked up from The Student Room are taking students with relatively low grades and without interviews, which ought to be a warning.

As well as the places mentioned in my earlier post I would have a look at Buckingham. Its private so fees are much higher, but grade requirements are slightly lower AAB and they don't seem to be asking for an A in chemistry, don't need more than a C in GCSE maths or want aptitude test scores. They may also let her get away with offering French/a non-science as a third A level. However they have the standard caveat: "Please note that we will not accept students who have previously enrolled in or studied an undergraduate medical programme".

shockthemonkey Mon 05-Feb-18 13:00:07

She's half English and has been studying the OIB (French Bac plus two British A-levels in history-geography and language-literature). She feels more at home in the UK and has probably had enough of the French system which can be quite dehumanising.

She knows that the Bac S did not go as deeply into the sciences as she would have gone had she done three science A levels... but she is quite confident that her year in prépa will close this gap.

Thanks so much, sleep -- I will get her googling and will take a peek at Buckingham. Had not heard of that!

OP’s posts: |
PenguinsandPandas Mon 05-Feb-18 13:15:28

My husband is French and does always return to France for any medical care. From what I've seen it is much better than ours.

I think about 1/2 French doctors are self-employed and they take from abroad but best to check no issues with qualification. I would suspect not but best to find out now. DH often sees specialists so I wonder if they specialise more though it could be DH is fussy. grin But in the UK he'ld see a GP about something if he's desperate and willing to risk the NHS, in France he sees the specialist. DH reckons pharmacy requires more qualifications in France than the UK.

Another option would be a nursing degree which is much easier to get into but would need to check can work in France with it and may not hold the same appeal.

Oxfordmedic Mon 05-Feb-18 15:38:53

Penguinsandpandas indeed pharmacists are highly qualified in France, it is a difficult lengthy course. There is an argument for having the same level of pharmacists in the UK to take some of the burden off GPS and A&E
Shockthemonkey since she is keen to live in the UK maybe it is better to tell this girl that entry into medical school is very tough in the UK ( no better a chance than first / second year of prepa) but she could give it a go although might have to be prepared to apply for physio or nursing instead.
I agree with Needmoresleep, it is easier to move to UK with French training (including nursing and physio) than vice versa plus training is much much cheaper in France. She could always aim for postgraduate medicine in the U.K. after working a couple of years in the UK. It would not surprise me if entry to medicine became less stringent in the UK in the not too distant future due to numbers.
BTW I would also tell her that the overlap between what senior nurses and doctors do is much more now, particularly for specialist nurses.

PenguinsandPandas Mon 05-Feb-18 15:59:27

The other thing to consider is rules could change after we come out of EU so I would look at ability of those outside Europe to work in France as doctors.

Needmoresleep Mon 05-Feb-18 16:09:19

Back to your original question, DLD usefully has accommodation on site.

One advantage of Bucks is that their academic years start in January, so there is just about enough time to apply after results in August. But it is really expensive.

So if she really wants to do something medical in the UK, she could take A levels in a year. If good she then applies to UCAS in October having picked up some Work Experience over the two summers, sitting both UKCAT and BMAT. If marginal, and she had the money, apply quickly to Bucks. If not good enough, consider alternative medical courses or, if she is totally determined look at some of the overseas courses. My understanding is that the better ones are no less demanding than in the UK.

I would not normally suggest paid courses, but since she is going into the process pretty blind, she might take a look at Medlink or MPW. Each medical school is selecting on a slightly different basis. You need to apply to your strengths.

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