It’s been a year of highs for Ralph Thoresby’s talented Sixth Form students, which is culminating in almost a half of the year group participating in residential ‘Summer Schools’.

Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, Leeds, Leeds Beckett, Exeter, King’s College London and Sheffield will play host to our ambitious Upper Sixth. 

However, it was the University of Bristol that hosted the first of this season of residential events, which are designed to explain the UCAS process and give participants a unique insight into the course in which they are most interested. Aspiring medic, Shoaib Hussain, was one of just 20 students selected from 1,200 applicants for their medicine/dentistry strand.

Shoaib maintained a diary of his time on the programme, which he shares in this article.

Studying medicine at Bristol


Our first day was spent in labs and we learnt about physiology, cardiology and neuroscience. We tested drugs on pond fleas to see whether it affected their heart rate and other body functions. We did various things to change our heart rate such as going on an exercise bike and putting our heads underwater! We then had access to a lifelike dummy with pulse, dilating pupils and it could breathe! We gave it diseases via the computer to see how this changed its physiological state. This technology has been introduced in the last year and is used exclusively by first year medics.

The second day was also spent in labs. Today we tested blood and urine samples to see if the patient was diabetic! It was a long and very challenging practical, which made it extremely interesting and enjoyable so the time flew by! Another student and I thrashed all the other summer school students from around the UK in the ‘diabetes quiz’ at the end and won a box of chocolates! All of the lab sessions were adapted from the actual medicine lab sessions which I liked because it was challenging but to the extent where it was still extremely interesting! Later we went on an open bus tour around Bristol! I could easily see myself studying here for six years.

On the third day we went to a local hospital and talked to junior doctors and a consultant. They gave us an incredible insight into how you reached a consultant/GP position and answered all of our questions about their career progression. The consultant interviewed a psychiatry patient in front of us so we knew how it was done and we were able to listen to her symptoms and ask her questions. There was free time in the afternoon and the activity I had selected was ‘Ultimate Frisbee’. Our team won both games. In the evening we had karaoke and I was on the mic 4 times! The crowd loved the ‘medic squad’s’ many performances.

On the fourth day, we received training for interview from an Oxford graduate. The advice he gave us was second to none and he really grilled the medical students that mentored us in front of us to show us how hard it can be. He told us exactly what was asked last year, what they should ask us and what he looks for when interviewing candidates. We then did it ourselves in front of the medic/dentistry group which was challenging but so helpful. Later, we practiced suturing on a banana as this was commonly used as one of the MMI station to test both manual dexterity and the ability to carefully follow instructions. The second station was ‘CPR practice’ which was amazing but very hard work.

On the last day we had the chance to complete our personal statement and got taught how to cut it down and what proportion of academic to extra-curricular information is required in it. We said our goodbyes after that and it was very emotional since I bonded so well with people on my stream but a few other people as well!  It is without doubt that this has been one of the most useful experiences of my time in Sixth Form, and one that was made possible by studying at Ralph Thoresby School.