For Medicine applicants, the UCAS application deadline is around three months earlier than it is for non-Medicine applicants. Therefore, you’ll need to work slightly ahead of your peers’ timescales.
Starting your Medicine Personal Statement can be daunting. Different universities will use your Personal Statement in different ways, with some considering it more important than others, and you probably haven’t written anything similar before. However, starting this process during your summer break will give you plenty of time to perfect all elements, from the content to the writing style and flow.
Mind-mapping your ideas is always a good place to start. Outline experiences worth mentioning and what you learned from them, making sure you cover everything that a Med School will want to know about you. Why do you want to study Medicine? What have you done to explore Medicine? And what makes you a strong candidate? Slowly, you will be able to form sentences and paragraphs. Once you have written a first draft, be sure to get it checked by a variety of people who will be able to point out areas for improvement.
Medical Schools do not require you to have visited umpteen hospitals, shadowing consultants on the wards and watching intricate surgeries. Instead, when you’re telling Med Schools about any work experience or volunteering you have done, they want to know what you learned during your experience, how that applies to a career in Medicine and why this will make you a good Doctor.
In some ways, less is more; securing one work experience/volunteering placement and being able to reflect well on your time there is much more impressive in the eyes of a Medical School. I strongly recommend writing diary-style notes during your work experience to make sure you don’t forget key elements which could be important to your Personal Statement and interview reflections.
To secure clinical experience, I attended my local hospital’s Induction to Medicine day and was able to obtain secondary care work experience through networking. Alternatively, volunteering in a relevant setting, such as at a care home, will help you to develop numerous transferable skills worth mentioning in your Medicine application.
Medical Schools start to send out their invitations to interview in late November – and this continues until around April of the new year. It’s a bit too early to begin specific interview prep this summer while you’re also preparing for UCAT; however, it would be useful for you to start researching interview formats which may be used by your universities of choice.
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI) have become the most popular method of Med School interview, whereby multiple ‘stations’ assess different skills. However, some universities do still use a traditional panel interview approach. Looking into the differences between these two interview formats and even forming a preference may help to inform your Medical School choices for UCAS.
Having adequate general knowledge of the field of Medicine is essential for interview and can also be used to your advantage in your Personal Statement. This summer is an ideal time to get into the habit of regularly checking the BBC News app, adding ‘Health’ and ‘NHS’ into a filtered My News section of the app. This will prepare you for one of the possible interview questions you might face: “Can you tell me about an interesting article you’ve read recently?”
If you do stray away from BBC News to read other interesting articles, ensure that your sources are legitimate. You may also be asked to discuss NHS hot topics (such as our ageing population or mental health) at interview, which you will gain a broad understanding of through reading around Medicine.
There are plenty of Medicine-related books which you may want to read during the summer too. You could reference key learning points from these books in your Personal Statement or at interview.
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