Medical student Beth was one of the UTC’s first students, joining the sixth form as part of its first intake, in 2013.

‘Straight away it felt different,’ she says. ‘While my mum, who’s a teacher, was a bit apprehensive because it was a new school and she didn’t know the teachers, it had a great atmosphere. It wasn’t about “what grades have you got?”, it was more about “what can we do for you? What do you want to do?” The teaching staff were so enthusiastic. The UTC’s approach was different. I liked doing 9-5, in a more adult environment, and being treated more like an adult.’

“The UTC’s partnership with the Royal Liverpool is a huge positive for students interested in medicine and healthcare.”

Beth was her previous school’s top performing student, and – although she wasn’t yet interested in a career in medicine – knew she was interested in science. ‘It was one of the teachers, as part of the career guidance, who persuaded me to take a look at medicine. I was applying for chemistry at the time, but he set me up with a placement. I’d had healthcare experience, but it was more on the science side. He said he thought I’d be really good at it, and persuaded me to give it another chance.

‘In my next placement I shadowed a junior doctor at Fazakerley Hospital – as opposed to senior staff – and it completely changed my perspective. I was working with someone who wasn’t that much older than me, and suddenly I could see how I could become a doctor. I saw what her job entailed, in the first stages of being out of uni. I could see the stages she’d been through, and thought “I can do this. It’s achievable.” Seeing her pocket book, to check she’d asked all the right questions, and the collaborative environment she worked in with nursing staff helped it all click into place.

Beth completed work experience at the Royal, alongside her time at Fazakerley, and a month at RedX Pharma. ‘Having spoken to people since, it’s by far the thing that stood out most on my personal statement,’ she says. ‘An extended period of time in an adult environment gave me so much that I can apply to anything. I still don’t know anyone else who had an opportunity like that. I did it over Easter, with some extra time away from school, and the UTC was so supportive in helping me fit it around studying.’

The UTC’s partnership with the Royal Liverpool is a huge positive for students interested in medicine and healthcare. ‘The Royal is so supportive of the UTC. I’m still in touch with one of the surgeons – it’s surreal having a surgeon check in with me on Facebook to see how I’m getting on. But it’s really encouraged me to do the same. I’m part of the widening participation scheme in St Andrews, helping students with their personal statements, and talking to students who might not have that opportunity otherwise about the benefits of medicine.

“Being at the UTC surrounded me with people who’ve got similar interests. They had career ideas I’d never heard of. It wasn’t just the staff, but all the students around you.”

Beth applied to four top universities, poring over their courses, facilities and wider appeal. ‘We looked at league tables and courses, but were also encouraged to make decisions about what we wanted from university. We thought about where we’d like like to live, the cost of living, and how far we wanted to be from home.’

Beth graduated from St Andrews in summer 2018, having finished her BSc. Her medical degree will come from Queen Mary, where she’s currently completing her final three years. She’ll spend her first year working full time in hospitals Barts or the Royal London – the biggest hospital in western Europe. ‘It’s very exciting,’ she says. ‘They cover both some of the richest areas in London, and also the 1% most deprived area of the country. It’s a chance to work with such a variety of people.

‘Eventually, I’d like to either work in oncology or palliative care. I worked on a research project last year on oncology and palliative care, which was really eye-opening. And an academic lab research project this semester cemented that I enjoy both the clinical side and academic side.’

Beth is still very much part of the UTC community. ‘One of the students in the year below came up to St Andrews for an interview, and came to see my accommodation. We’ve remained friends, I see him all the time here. A few more have applied for medicine to start this September,’ she says.

‘If I were talking to current students – or prospective new students, I’d just tell them to put everything into it,’ says Beth. ‘If you’re offered something, just do it. I was offered a month for work experience, but worried about how I’d catch up. But it really made the difference for me, and the UTC was really supportive of me. If you’re interested in something, give it a go. You’ll grow up a lot faster, and there are so many more opportunities. Whether you want to do a degree or an apprenticeship – or if you’re not sure – you won’t be pushed in either direction. You’ll be able to make a really balanced decision about what you want to do…’

“The Royal is so supportive of the UTC. I’m still in touch with one of the surgeons – it’s surreal having a surgeon check in with me on Facebook to see how I’m getting on.”