Welcome to our new blog series, Key Skills for Medicine for 2019 Entry! This series will explore different skills needed for medicine – from scientific interest to people skills – and how to demonstrate them easily.
This blog will focus on developing and demonstrating teamwork skills.
Teamwork is a huge part of medicine, so being able to work well in a team is therefore extremely important, and medical schools like to see that you are able to do it well. Here are some ways you could show your suitability in this area…
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DofE is a favourite of medical school applicants for many different reasons. The expedition section is great for developing and demonstrating good teamwork. Many of you may have already completed the Bronze or Silver Awards, but if not, it’s not too late to get started!
You can think of the things that went well and perhaps things that didn’t go as you would have hoped, it’s all about reflecting on how the team functioned together.
Maybe there was a time when you weren’t all working together – were you able to recognise that? Were you able to intervene? Can you think of how it would be better next time?
Group based projects
There may be some extracurricular projects that you have done with a group of other students. Perhaps you did a group research project, or a social project as part of something like the NCS?
Participating in something like this is important because a lot of medical schools will teach you in small groups, some more than others, but all of them to some extent. So, you must be able to show you will be able to learn effectively in this format and that you’ll get on well with your peers.
Have you been part of any sport teams? Any other types of competitive teams? If so, there are many things you can learn from them regarding maintaining team morale. When working competitively in a team you must be able to play your role effectively and everyone must be able to pull their weight in order for the whole team to succeed.
You have to be able to show that you know your role within a team and are able to recognise that each member will have their own strengths and weaknesses which you must appreciate to get the best out of each and every person.
Getting involved in a charity cause or a voluntary role is great for developing team work! Organising a charity event for example, will require a lot of teamwork. Although it’s important to know the boundaries to you role when in a team setting, it’s also important to be prepared to do that little bit extra in order to benefit the team as whole.
You might see example of this on any voluntary posts or might have taken up. Think about how you, as a volunteer, worked with the more experienced people around you. Were you able to ask for help when needed? You can read more about my experiences of volunteering here.
As well as being able to show that you can work in a team, it’s important that you are able to show an understanding of the key qualities needed in a good team member and are able to relate to a healthcare setting.
You might have observed in a hospital many different healthcare professionals all using their different fields of expertise to ensure the best care of the patient. Can you see how this would have improved the quality of care received by the patient? How important is effective communication within the team? Can you give any examples?
Here’s an example of miscommunication which is definitely worth the read to help you appreciate the importance of teamwork and effective communication in a medical setting.
Words: Masumah Jannah
Masumah is a 1st year Medical Student at the University of Manchester. She writes a blog in which she documents her experiences of medical school and gives tips to aspiring medics: lifeofamedic.com