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The University of Southampton

Nicole Tan BM5

Year 4

Nicole Tan's Photo

Medicine at Southampton prepares you for what it is like in the medical world. During my first and second year I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with patients either in a GP practice or hospital setting.

Before starting my UCAS applications, I made a list of medical schools I wanted to apply to. As an international student, I had to consider a number of factors and based my decision on things like course structure, location, welfare, school fees and living costs. However, while I was finalising my list, I was introduced to a Medicine alumnus who thoroughly enjoyed the course and it seemed exactly what I was looking for. I was not disappointed. Southampton offered a five-year course with an option to intercalate and most importantly, Southampton was among the first pioneers of early patient contact, which I was very keen on.

I was definitely both excited and anxious when I received my offer from Southampton. I wondered whether I would be able to cope with the course, whether I will get friendly hall-mates – I was even worried about whether I’d packed enough and whether there would be a grocery shop nearby. But the University has a good international welfare system, so I felt very supported from day one.

But the support didn’t stop there. There is also the Southampton International Medics Society (SIMS), which I was first introduced to on my first day. They were so reassuring, and it helped to speak to people with people with similar backgrounds. I did not feel homesick as much as I thought I would, and this was mainly because of SIMS!

Southampton is an excellent place to focus and study. It has all the benefits and excitement of a big city but not the scale, and in addition the University itself is not located in the city centre so you will be away from distraction but not too far away from entertainment. It has everything I need. Furthermore, there are good transport links between the University, Hospital and the city centre as well as places like London if you want to go further afield.   

Medicine at Southampton prepares you for what it is like in the medical world and allowed me to experience other clinical opportunities. During my first and second year I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with patients either in a GP practice or hospital setting.  This offered a nice break between lectures and it prepared us for our clinical placements in Year 3. During Year 3, I was introduced to Clinical Genetics, which opened my eyes to a completely new field of medicine. I was definitely impressed and especially with the emerging technology nowadays, Genetics will play a huge role in the future.

The project work that students are able to undertake is also very exciting. I conducted a research project about children’s eyes, which went really well, so much so that I was given the opportunity to present a poster in the 2016 Royal College of Ophthalmology Congress in Birmingham and not long after, I gave a free paper oral presentation at the 2016 British & Irish Paediatric Ophthalmology & Strabismus Association in Dublin. From this, I managed to get some publications as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so, I decided to intercalate and do the MMedSc. During that year, I was able to use state of the art technology and model a 3D structure of a cell in the eye. It was a great experience that will shape my future career.

The journey through a medical degree is a challenging one, but I would advise anyone to keep the enthusiasm going and don’t stress out. At Southampton there is lots of support and so many medical societies to join. From Badminton to Paediatrics and Choir to Save a Baby’s Life. As a medical student, this is a good opportunity to widen your horizons, fundraise for charities and teach parents or school children. Be pro-active and take things one step at a time. Medicine is not an easy walk in the park. There is so much to cover and learn, it is very much lifelong learning. You have to put it a little effort to achieve the outcome you want.

After graduating and completing my foundation years, I hope to pursue a career in ophthalmology or clinical genetics. In medical school, you’re constantly exposed to different fields within medicine and as a medical student, I can assure you that the doctors here will convince you that their specialty is the best. 


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