Andrew Mooney
Medical Studies at Stow College (2011/12)
Studying Medicine at the University of Glasgow (2012+)

My name is Andrew Mooney and I am currently studying Medicine at the University of Glasgow.  I studied on the SWAP Access to Medical Studies programme at Stow College during 2011-2012. This course has transformed my life and allowed me to turn my dream of becoming a doctor into a reality.  

I had always nurtured a dream to become a doctor and couldn’t envisage myself doing anything else. However, I was concerned I did not have the appropriate qualifications required. I had always been passionate about helping others, so I began volunteering with NHS Lanarkshire, both in a care of the elderly ward at Wishaw General Hospital and a Day Hospice for cancer and MS sufferers. I found this to be incredibly rewarding and gained an insight into what it was like to work in healthcare and the level of responsibility and high standards required for the care and treatment of patients.   Drawing upon these experiences and further shadowing doctors at St. Andrew's Hospice, I began seriously to consider the possibility of entering the medical profession. I began researching the entry requirements for medical schools, and whilst doing this, I learned about the SWAP Access to Medical Studies programme.    

SWAP Access to Medical Studies Programme

The Access to Medical Studies programme provides its students with the entrance qualifications for the study of Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow, in addition to Pharmacy, Neuroscience and other science degree courses in Scotland. I was delighted to be offered a place on the medicine course, as it was an important first step toward achieving my goal of becoming a doctor.

The programme provides students with an academic knowledge of sciences: human biology, chemistry, human anatomy, and it also encapsulated the intensity and academic rigour of a course such as Medicine by means of intense study and structured assessments. The programme also equips students with the organisational and study skills which are of paramount importance to the successful study of these courses.
  I had the full support of my lecturers and tutors at college and feel that the course has prepared me well for the challenges of Medical School. The lecturers were all very friendly and approachable and a number of tutors thought nothing of going the extra mile to help the students on the course, often arranging further sessions and providing extra study material at the request of students on the course.    

Applying to medicine

The class itself was comprised of a very close group of students, in which there was great camaraderie and a strong collective desire to learn and help each other. The support offered by SWAPWest was tremendous throughout the course, as they arranged visits from former students, presentations to support students on the course with their personal statement and UCAS forms, mock interviews and also a study skills day at the University of Glasgow, during which we also participated in a PBL session.   Such support from SWAPWest was extremely beneficial to my application and has also equipped me well for my future study. After having achieved a Distinction and an AAA student profile for Access to Medical Studies, I was successful in my application to study Medicine at the University of Glasgow, and started in September 2013.  


Voluntary work was a key factor with regards to me making the decision to apply to medical school in the first place, and subsequently gaining entry to Medicine at Glasgow. I'm sure that a lot of the skills that I learned whilst volunteering will also stand in me in good stead throughout university and also my future career.
  I was honoured to be nominated by Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire for an award in recognition of the effort and dedication I showed as a volunteer. I won the award and was presented with it at their awards ceremony.


Hopes for the future

Upon graduating, I hope to become a Medical Officer in the Royal Navy, whereupon I will have the opportunity to specialise in areas like occupational medicine, surgery, anaesthetics, orthopaedics and primary care. I believe that this will be both a challenging and extremely rewarding career, and it certainly wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the SWAPWest Access to Medical Studies course.

First year update

The first months of studying Medicine have gone really well. Each week has been focused on a different subject; for example, the skin, bacteria, the immune system, blood clotting and the skeletal system. A PBL scenario focuses on these topics each week along with lectures, labs and vocational studies sessions. We have had our first visit to a hospital ward, which a care of the elderly ward in the Royal Victoria Infirmary. We have also had a clinical skills session, during which we were taught injection techniques. I feel like I've settled really well into the course, as the pace hasn't been too difficult to get to grips with; we only have one PBL scenario a week at the moment, as opposed to the two a week we will have from January onwards. I've been working hard at each scenario and making sure that I meet all the learning outcomes, as I believe that it is extremely important to keep on top of the workload.  

Second year update

I recently learned that I achieved a grade of B2 in the Medical Independent Learning Exercise, and I also received a grade of B1 for the Life History Coursework, which is a project in which we interviewed a patient with a chronic medical condition, and wrote a report on what it was like for the individual living with the condition, and also how it affects the lives of those living around them.   I also received an A4 grade yesterday, which was for Community Diagnosis, which I'm delighted with. Hopefully I can keep this standard of work up.  I have been studying in the library every day over the Easter Holidays, as I am hoping to secure a good grade in my final written exam this year, but I suppose time will tell.    Also, in addition to this, I recently applied for another new job with the Scottish Nursing Guild. I was successful, which I am extremely pleased about.  The Nursing Guild is a very well regarded employer and I believe that this is quite a big step in the right direction as far as gaining experience for my future career goes.   I can't believe how quickly this year has gone by. I've been putting in the hours revising, so hopefully it will pay off for the final exam.  
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