Over the last few years Taunton School has become a bit of a specialist centre in what are commonly referred to as ‘competitive entry courses’. This is in the form of a weekly session in the Lower 6th called ‘Pre-Med’. The need for us to fine tune our support for medicine, veterinary science, and dentistry applications was two fold: they are hard to get in to even if you have top grades, and choosing a vocation aged 16 can be daunting.

Many people still don’t know what careers they want at the point of leaving university, so it is a relatively unusual thing for someone who has just sat their GCSEs to be deciding on the job they will do for the rest of their lives (probably!) There is often a lot of pressure put on pupils who declare their intention to go for these courses and at TS that is exactly what we discourage. We want the choice to go in to these caring professions to be a natural one, a well researched one, and not one made through ‘expectations’. Though the Pre-Med course we take a look in to what these careers are like; meeting current professionals, discussing the state of the NHS, role play, work experience, university visits, and so much more. Having a realistic understanding of these jobs is vital to ensuring that our pupils are making the right choice for them. It is not just about getting good grades! Myself and the careers department also provide guidance through the complex application process, helping to ensure that pupils apply to appropriate courses for each individual. It is often quoted that it costs the government £250,000 to train a doctor, so it is important that our pupils go to university as certain as they can be that this is the right course for them. Sometimes the path on to these courses is not a traditional route, and we work with our pupils, even once they have left, to best support their desire to access a university place. Equally, there are many ways to contribute to the health service that don’t involve being a doctor, and the Pre-Med course also supports pupils who choose these pathways.

When thinking about a job as a doctor, dentist or vet it is also important to be reflective and focus on the softer skills. We often sit around with a cup of tea where pupils discuss their work experience, opening up about what they found hard to witness, and what has inspired them. The ability to communicate is vital, as is the ability to have insight into one’s self. All three of these careers are emotionally and physically demanding so it is important that pupils reflect upon the resilience needed and appropriate coping strategies.

If you would like to know more about Pre-Med or would just like to chat about university/career options in this area pop up to Biology or drop me an email!

Caro Wedgwood
Head of Biology and Pre-Med Coordinator