A pandemic is an interesting and difficult time to be a prospective medical student. The spotlight on our NHS may have you more inspired than ever to embark on a medical career, but the situation has created challenging conditions in which to start your application.
Despite all the uncertainty, there are things you can do! Read on for five ways to strengthen your Medicine personal statement whilst social distancing.
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Many charities are suffering from a huge decrease in funding and need our help! You can fundraise from the comfort of your own home and be inventive, live stream a challenge, or involve others via video call (charity pub quiz anyone?).
Organising a successful fundraiser is not only wonderful for charities, but it also displays a range of attributes that medical schools are looking for, including organisation and communication skills.
Many of us learn about what it takes to be a doctor through clinical work experience but unfortunately, that option is not widely available right now. Time to be flexible in your approach!
Several platforms are useful, social media for a start has a wealth of medical students and doctors sharing their experiences. A doctor recently took over @medicportal Instagram stories and shared in detail what their nightshift involved. Pre-medicus is a free campaign aiming to empower and educate those considering a career in medicine, including tips and weekly webinars (Instagram: @pre_medicus)
Some universities also use UniBuddy, a way for you to ask current students about their study and life. This could be of invaluable help not only for understanding life as a student but also in choosing where to apply, especially if open days are affected by the pandemic.
Volunteering can demonstrate empathy, commitment, teamwork, and communication skills, but finding opportunities that allow for social distancing can be difficult!
If you are keen to be hands-on, food banks are a great place to start. You can explore options here.
Alternatively, you can show your initiative and compassion by helping those closer to home. From dog walking to ensuring your vulnerable neighbours have enough food, being able to identify problems and adapt to them is an essential skill for doctors, so why not start now!
If you have the time, taking an online course is interesting and shows your enthusiasm and commitment. It may even inspire you to begin your own academic project, which again can highlight your drive for medicine.
The Medic Portal offers brilliant online courses covering BMAT, UCAT, interviews, and personal statements. You can find them here.
There are other platforms offering a range of free online courses on seemingly endless amounts of topics! Two to check out are Future Learn and Open University.
You may have made the mistake of dismissing certain experiences, thinking they are too run-of-the-mill to include in your statement. However, learning how to use what you have to your advantage is crucial. A good reflection on what you have learnt is the most powerful tool you have and is the key to impressing medical schools.
A way to start with this is to write down every achievement and extra-curricular activity from the past few years. This could be anything including being a school prefect, being part of a team or club, prizes, volunteering, tutoring, helping at open days, hobbies or a part-time job to name a few.
You can then begin to match them to the characteristics that you want to portray in your statement. This is a good way of visualising what you have to work with and identifying your strengths and weaknesses. You may find that you already have a lot of experience under your belt; you just need to learn how to use it!
Good luck, stay safe and look after yourself!
Written by Katie, a 4th year medical student. She also documents her life as a medical student through her Instagram account @hopefulmedic
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