College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Helping others apply for Medicine

Fiona Howells is a second year MBChB student. Having received support from the ‘You can be a Doctor’ programme during her own application process, today she is helping prospective students apply.

Fiona hill walking

Fiona attended James Young High School in Livingston. Whilst growing up she developed an interest in forensics and pathology, probably from watching too many crime dramas she suggests.

After a few early stage discussions with teachers at her school it soon became apparent that she would need to study medicine to pursue a career in this field.

You can be a doctor

Whilst in fifth year high school she became aware of activities and events promoted by the University’s ‘Pathways to the Professions’ programme, specifically those being organised by the student led organisation, ‘You can be a Doctor’.

‘You can be a Doctor’ is a charity established by current MBChB students at Edinburgh with the aim of demystifying medical school  and making it accessible to all.

Through their own experiences they appreciate that applying for medicine can be a daunting task and firmly believe that becoming a Doctor should be an option open to all regardless of background, postcode or school tradition.

The students work closely with the ‘Pathways to the Professions’ team and colleagues across the Medical School to offer taster days, revision sessions and general support and advice to prospective students considering a career in medicine.

Fiona kayaking

An insight into anatomy

Fiona’s first taster of what it feels like to be a medical student at Edinburgh was a rather dramatic one. She attended an ‘Introduction to Anatomy’ day organised by the ‘You can be a Doctor’ team.

The day was held at the Old Medical School and Fiona enjoyed seeing a demonstration of the cutting edge, Anatomage table, a look around the Anatomical Museum and a live dissection conducted by Professor Gordon Findlater; until she fainted.

Fiona recalls feeling totally at ease in the lab until a first glimpse of the head of the cadaver sent things a little hazy. Next thing she knew she was on the floor with a bloody nose having hit it off the table mid faint. There was a lot of blood everywhere and it was nothing to do with the dissection.

On the positive side of things, Fiona’s fainting was certainly an ice breaker and she recalls that everyone was very nice about it. To give her a second and less traumatic experience of dissection Professor Findlater invited her back for a day’s work experience in the department at a later date.

Despite the fainting and nose bleed drama, Fiona loved the taster day and following her return visit she was sold on studying medicine at Edinburgh.

School students at a 'You can be a Doctor' session

It was always Edinburgh

Fiona's experience in the Anatomy Department made her really excited and enthused to apply for medicine at Edinburgh. To get even more of a feel of what it is like to be a student at Edinburgh she attended several public lectures on a wide range to topics.

Whilst she applied for all of the Scottish medical schools, she recalls that Edinburgh was where she wanted to come the most.

Supported all the way

As with many high schools, Fiona recalls that hers did not have the resource or expertise to offer specialist advice on applying to medicine.

She subsequently took advantage of information and support sessions at the University offering advice and feedback on the UCAS application process, interviews and personal statement writing. She also attended science revision sessions run by 'You can be a Doctor'.

The ‘You can be a Doctor’ programme allowed me to find out what being an Edinburgh medic was really like, an insight into the reality behind all of the necessary form filling

Fiona Howells

What really impacted Fiona’s positive experience of applying was that current medical students were on hand to offer advice based on their own experience. She recalls how there was support available throughout the whole process which boosted her confidence in applying for medicine.

Giving something back

Fiona’s experience of the ‘You can be a Doctor’ sessions and support was so positive and impactful that it made her want to help current prospective students.

The programme and support is invaluable for prospective students. A huge factor in its usefulness is the fact that it is organised by current medical students for prospective medical students. It doesn’t get more accurate than that.

Fiona Howells

Fiona is involved in the organisation of an upcoming anatomy day for current high school students. She is organising it alongside the event lead and fellow MNChB student, Katie Brown and hopes to increase her involvement every year.

She loves seeing the positive feedback received from high school students that attend and realises how important it continues to be.

Fiona and fellow students at 'Science Saturday'

Living up to expectations

Since her first experience of medicine at Edinburgh which ended with a bloody nose, Fiona's love of studying medicine continues. She recalls many different areas that she has experienced so far and a real enthusiasm for renal medicine.

She is looking forward to studying reproductive biology next year and whilst her path may have taken a detour from her original crime scene inspiration, Fiona is enjoying it all the way.

Related links

Vist the 'You can be a Doctor' website