College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Medical school demystified

A group of Edinburgh Medical School students and alumni have set up a charity that aims to encourage state school students to apply to study medicine.

Callum Cruickshank and fellow students at a student organised event.
Callum (third from right) and fellow MBChB students

For many prospective undergraduate students the thought of applying to study medicine can be daunting or simply never considered. You Can Be A Doctor aims to demistify the profession and encourage applicants from all backgrounds.

It started with a hockey injury

Callum Cruickshank has just started his sixth year of the MBChB course at Edinburgh Medical School but he remembers vividly the moment that he decided that he wanted to be a doctor. Lying in a hospital bed at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh after suffering a torn ACL on the hockey pitch, Callum was inspired by his surgeon and decided at that moment to apply to study medicine.

Mick Burns, Callum’s careers advisor at North Berwick High School directed him to the University of Edinburgh’s Pathways to the Professions programme and LEAPS (Lothians Equal Access Programme for Schools). With the guidance and support provided by these programmes, Callum successfully applied to study at Edinburgh.

Grateful and keen to give something back, Callum immediately offered his support to the programmes and, in doing so, began to learn more about the barriers and misconceptions that prevent potential students from applying to study medicine. It was a combination of his own experiences and this newly aquired knowledge that led the creation of You Can Be A Doctor.

Breaking tradition

The team at You Can Be A Doctor passionately believe that a career in medicine should be a realistic option for all school students to consider regardless of their background, postcode or the tradition of the school. Callum and his colleagues know first-hand the hard work and preparation that is required to make it into medical school and are also fully aware that encouragement, support and guidance can vary hugely between schools, particularly state schools; their key focus.

The wealthiest 10% of postcodes in Scotland provide more applications to medicine than come from the 60% most deprived. That isn’t because those students lack talent or ability. It’s because they didn’t get the support they needed to become a doctor. You Can Be A Doctor aims to fill that gap and help school students across Scotland enter the profession and lift up their communities.

Callum CruickshankMBChB student and founder of You Can Be A Doctor
Clinical skills
Students visiting the Clinical Skills Centre.

Learn from the professionals

Through the website the team supply step-by-step guidance on applying to study medicine as well as tips on grades, work experience and personal statements. The project isn't just online however and crucially includes opportunities for school students to visit the Medical School and learn first-hand.

Working closely with Pathways to the Professions, state school students from all over Edinburgh and the Lothians have experienced elements of being a medical student such as anatomy and clinical skills. With a focus on grades, the team have also run revision sessions on campus where school students can study in a relaxed environment with an academic on hand for any questions.

Can you help inspire the next generation of doctors?

Callum and the team are continually developing the programme and, alongside organising events and information sessions, are looking to compile, publish and promote a series of inspirational profiles completed by other medical students or alumni.

Are you a doctor who went to a state school? Do you have advice or experiences that you can share? You can get involved by completing the online form on the website.

Submit your profile 

We would love Edinburgh Alumni to inspire school pupils across Scotland to consider medicine. Sharing your experiences can be an invaluable way of proving that becoming a doctor is possible no matter where you come from.

Callum CruickshankMBChB student and founder of You Can Be A Doctor


You Can Be A Doctor is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Charity number SC046620.

Related links

You Can Be A Doctor


Pathways to the Professions

Edinburgh Medical School