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Medicine: what’s better, Oxford or Cambridge?
237

AsPerMyLastEmail · 03/12/2020 20:07

DS wants to study medicine. For certain reasons beyond academics & reputation, he and I think Oxford or Cambridge may be a good fit for him. He’s Year 11 now so will be doing proper research nearer the time. Out of idle curiosity, I’d appreciate thoughts on which of the two is better for medicine. With the obvious caveat that ‘better’ is partly subjective.

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randomsabreuse · 03/12/2020 20:10

Look at where they do the clinical years and options for intercalation.

Cambridge is more of a University City while Oxford is a city which has a university in it.

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MalbecIsMyOne · 03/12/2020 20:15

Does he understand that medicine at Oxbridge is very different from other medical schools in the UK? Essentially he will do 3 years academic study before moving into clinic training. Other med schools start clinics placements in the first year.

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letsmakethetea · 03/12/2020 20:17

Advise him to look in detail at the structure of each course, and compare to those at other reputable universities. The 'best' is subjective and depends on what he most likes the sound of.

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mumsneedwine · 03/12/2020 21:58

No where is 'best' for medicine. You get a medical degree and then apply for F1. When no one cares where you go. He needs to check v carefully at what each course offers. Oxbridge means theory and no patient contact for a few years. Most other places do placements from year 1.

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DrDreReturns · 03/12/2020 22:01

Anecdotal but a friend of mine who did medicine at Cambridge did his clinical bit in London. He said being a post graduate in Cambridge would have been really boring. Another did her first three years in Cambridge then her clinical bit in Oxford. This was in the 90s so a while ago.

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goodbyestranger · 03/12/2020 22:36

Probably remarkably little in it between the two. Oxford seems to bag the top spot for medical schools in terms of rankings rather more frequently.

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Embracelife · 03/12/2020 22:46

Visit both. See which vibe he likes more

Why is "best" important to you and ds?
Best what? Reputation? Why?
He will likely still need to put other choices down as well.

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Embracelife · 03/12/2020 22:48

P.s. trying to get relevant voluntary or work experience might be useful

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AsPerMyLastEmail · 03/12/2020 22:59

Thanks all, some good advice here. Some of you seem to miss though that I did say in my OP that I was asking with the caveat that 'better' is subjective. That's better, not 'best'. I was asking for insight about any differences between the two, if in people's opinion there were advantages to either that we didn't know about.

He's aware that the courses are more academic than other places, although I'll need to check he's aware of the extent to it and how long to wait before clinical practices. Nearer the right time, I'll definitely get him to look at the course content.

I really like what you put @randomsabreuse about the differences between the cities, that's good to know.

He'll definitely be visiting to check them both out.

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MalbecIsMyOne · 04/12/2020 13:33

He will also need to consider, there’s a chance that after the first 3 years he may end up having to relocate to London for his clinical years. As a student I imagine this will have a financial impact.

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AsPerMyLastEmail · 04/12/2020 13:40

That is very useful to know, thank you Malbec. An important consideration.

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AlexaShutUp · 04/12/2020 13:42

Following with interest, OP. DD is also year 11 and looking to study medicine. I'm pretty sure that she will apply for Oxbridge. She is currently very biased towards Cambridge, as that's where I studied (not medicine), and she has visited a few times, but I'm encouraging her to keep an open mind at the moment. She hasn't even been to Oxford.

It's a good point about people needing to relocate to London for the clinical years, we hadn't really considered that. Can anyone tell us a bit more about this? Also, how do student loans etc work for the clinical years - if they have to relocate, can they borrow at the increased London rate for maintenance costs?

DD has already been researching options for the intercalation year at Cambridge and loves the look of some of them! Smile

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AsPerMyLastEmail · 04/12/2020 13:45

Is intercalation compulsory?

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confusedpombear · 04/12/2020 13:46

I think they've stopped clinical years in London now for oxbridge students but i might be wrong.

Although very different set ups as medical schools, Imperial and UCL are as good as oxbridge these days too.

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confusedpombear · 04/12/2020 13:47

Intercalation is compulsory at oxbridge, UCL, imperial and notts (although notts is integrated so only 5 years).

A large majority intercalate at every med school anyway whether compulsory or not

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AlexaShutUp · 04/12/2020 13:49

I think so, in Cambridge at least. Not sure about Oxford. It's something to consider if students actually want to do it or not, as I assume it adds an extra year/extra costs etc. DD loves the idea and is very pro!

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confusedpombear · 04/12/2020 13:50

Just checked online. Oxbridge students can no longer do their clinical years in London.

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goodbyestranger · 04/12/2020 13:50

That isn't relevant any more. No-one can now opt or be asked to move to London for the Clinical years.

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goodbyestranger · 04/12/2020 13:56

Crossed with lots of others!

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Medstudent12 · 04/12/2020 13:57

I’m a doctor. It doesn’t matter where you go. I am a junior doctor and have worked with people from oxbridge. Some great at their jobs, others too academic and struggled with the pressures of the nhs. It doesn’t make you a better or worse doctor.

But if you don’t love love hardcore science then don’t do it. It’s not very clinical for the first half. And from what friends have said it’s more “high pressure” so depends if that is what he wants.

It’s also not the hardest to get into. They require high grades to get into but frequently Manchester/Leeds/London get more applicants per place.

When you apply for your first jobs no one can tell if you went to Oxford or Keele. You’re ranked in deciles against your year group so being with other very intelligent people can actually mean you rank lower for first jobs.

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GreyBow · 04/12/2020 14:03

Getting into any medical school is brutal and not a given... and getting just an interview at Oxbridge is a remote chance (even with A*s and a great BMAT).

I wouldn't spend too much energy deciding between Oxford and Cambridge. It's time better spent on bmat, ucat and getting great A Levels.

ANYWHERE for medicine is an amazing achievement.

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Ginfordinner · 04/12/2020 14:07

@MalbecIsMyOne

He will also need to consider, there’s a chance that after the first 3 years he may end up having to relocate to London for his clinical years. As a student I imagine this will have a financial impact.

This is one of the reasons that students look at other medical schools. Especially if it is an integrated course because they will have hospital placements. The medical school in Newcastle, for example, is next to the RVI. The course structure is another consideration.

Some medical schools offer problem based learning, some offer integrated learning, Oxbridge offers traditional learning.

The Medic Portal comparison tool is useful.

Medical school rankings

Interestingly Cambridge doesn't even make the top 5.

I think for medical school you need to keep an open mind.
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Mansmansmum · 04/12/2020 14:07

But better for what? What does better mean for your ds? (Not you.)
A better student experience? Student satisfaction rates? A better university town? A better academic reputation or research in his interest areas? Better range of clinical placements? Better teaching? Better accommodation? Better transport links to home or placements?

Any or all of these would be valid reasons for your ds to choose one over the other but in the end when it comes to med school and Oxbridge better is the one that he's got the greatest chance of acceptance based on his profile.

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goodbyestranger · 04/12/2020 14:19

I agree - your DS should see which one he fancies when the time comes.

Loving and being good at science is important, fair point. To be honest I quite like my doctors to have a good understanding of science too. Some, worryingly, are pretty clueless. Even if their bedside chat is second to none.

More applicants per place is fairly besides the point. I mean, there are far fewer buyers per house once the price goes over a million. Huge numbers of applicants whistle themselves out by not having the grades for Oxbridge Medicine, or the aptitude (not absolutely the same thing).

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AsPerMyLastEmail · 04/12/2020 14:19

Brilliant to know about not doing clinical years in London.

Medstudent12 Thanks, DS is definitely into hardcore science. As for your other points, I disagree, it most definitely does matter where you go. The experience and how ‘well’ you do is about much more than rankings, academics & reputation. Which is precisely why the first sentence of my OP says he’s considering Oxbridge for reasons beyond academics and reputation. Good attention to detail is an imperative quality in a doctor and I hope wherever he ends up, my DS will learn this.

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