Steps to becoming a doctor

Choose the right subjects

In addition to your Leaving Certificate points and HPAT score, some medical schools require (or ‘highly recommend’) studying specific subjects at high school. Every university has its own set of requirements, so you’ll need to thoroughly read and understand the admissions guidelines. While no set rule applies, you can expect most universities to require satisfactory marks in English, Mathematics, Irish, a third language and at least one Science subject.

Learn about the career

Is medicine right for you? If you're reading this, you probably already have the ability to score well in exams and gain admission to a medical school. But before you make one of the most important decisions of your life, you need to have a realistic idea of what to expect.

Aptitude

The entry criteria for medicine are designed to ensure students possess the right qualities. Your Leaving Certificate points will measure your academic abilities and proficiency in core subjects. The HPAT tests cognitive and emotional reasoning skills, as well as your ability to perform under extreme pressure. These are all skills that doctors require.

Passion

Few people succeed in any career without passion. Yes, medicine is an incredibly interesting subject to study, but you also need a genuine interest. There’s no better way to develop your passion than to research the careers of medical practitioners and read about their journey. Our own Head of Education, Dr Ann Deely, shares some of her experiences and passion in our HPAT workshops.

Commitment

Be realistic about the commitment you’ll be making. Medicine is a career that involves lifelong learning. In addition to 5-6 years of university studies, it can take up to ten years to independently practice some forms of medicine.

Then the real commitment begins. Most people understand the rewards but it’s difficult to get a realistic idea of the challenges of medicine. Being responsible for people’s health requires commitment and sacrifice.

Understanding

Before you make a decision to study medicine, we highly recommend that you speak to as many practicing physicians as possible, read case studies, and carefully research the medical entry process.

Apply to The CAO

You should already have an understanding of university requirements from the first step in your journey - choosing the right subjects. Now it’s time to apply. You should apply for undergraduate medicine via the CAO. The application deadline is normally at the start of February, but you will need to have obtained a CAO number before you can apply to sit the HPAT, so it is advisable to apply early.

The CAO allows you to enter up to ten Level 8 courses on your application form, so you have space to put all five Irish medical courses on your application. As the points required for entry to medicine vary from year to year, we recommend listing all the medical schools on your application in order to maximise your chances of success. Before applying, make sure you have the most up-to-date information by contacting the admissions officer of each course you’re interested in.

Sit the HPAT

Most students with their eye on a career in medicine understand the hard work, dedication and practice required to succeed in exams. They understand how to answer technical questions based on lessons and texts.

But the HPAT is nothing like the exams you’re accustomed to. That’s why many overconfident students who sit for the test unprepared not only fail the exam but also fail to finish it. The HPAT is designed by universities to find the students who possess specific mental abilities considered important in medicine. The unorthodox questioning and time pressure make it one of the most difficult obstacles on the path to a career in medicine.

But with the right preparation, strategy and practice, students can ace the HPAT and enter their dream course with ease. Smart students begin their preparation well in advance of the HPAT, which occurs in February each year. With regular practice, most MedEntry students excel in the 110-question exam.

Need information on registration, types of questions and preparation?

Visit the HPAT page

Choose the Right Medical School

You've navigated through the difficult application process including the HPAT and the Leaving Certificate. But now comes the ultimate decision: which medical school should you put at the top of your CAO application?

If you meet the entry requirements for the first medical school on your CAO application, you will not be offered a place on a course further down the list. Therefore, it is important to make sure your application is a true reflection of your preferences. Speaking to those closest to you including family and friends is always important but ultimately it is a very personal decision. There is a lot of misinformation out there, a classic one being that prestige or rank of the medical school is an important factor in career progression.

However, there are a number of important factors to consider including location, cost of living, internship placements, clinical placements, course structure, teaching style and student life. It's not an easy task, but we've prepared a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right medical school for you.

Choosing Your Medical School: A Comprehensive Guide

Become A Doctor

Medicine requires the highest levels of due diligence by all governing bodies. That’s why it takes at least five additional years before you can practice medicine independently. The early years of a graduate’s career are spent practicing medicine as an intern, Senior House Officer and finally, as a Registrar in their chosen area of specialty.

If you’re sitting at your laptop considering the daunting years of study, training and learning ahead of you, there’s plenty of upside. Few doctors will talk in anything less than glowing terms of their career in medicine. It’s a stressful and challenging career but one that offers unique benefits.

Medicine is intellectually stimulating, offers very high job security, an excellent salary and the experience of improving lives every day. It’s a life of constant learning, tight regulations, late nights, early mornings and personal sacrifices. But the number of students applying for medical schools each year is proof that medicine is, and will continue to be, one of the most desirable careers in Ireland.