Saturday, 18 August 2012

How to apply to medical school without losing your mind

Hi guys, sorry I've fallen off the blogsphere a bit, its been a busy few months full of finishing fourth year and the fun of exams*  combined with summer fun such as volunteering as a games maker at the olympics and earning my last pennies from my part time job before I quit it in order to dedicate my time to giving myself and my wonderful lack of medical knowledge the best chance of scrapping through finals in about 9 months times (eeek eeekk eeeeek!!! This absolutely terrifies me!!)

The good news is I'm all passed on fourth year and so now do hold the terrifying title of Final year medical student.A week and a bit till I start back :o.  Start taking your vitamin tablets cause its looking like I could actually pull off this medical student business **! 

But anyway: Blogging.  I'll catch you up on some of my latest medical exploits soon, but I figured its that time of year when AS students have all got their results and are working on their applications... Well I always intended this blog to be something that would help current applicants but it has occurred to be that I've not really shared that much of my "wisdom" about the application  process, so without further adieu:

General advice

Personal statement – concentrate  more on what you gained from a few key pieces of work experience/ volunteer work than just listing all the things you have done.  Spend time working on your opening line, you want to get their attention and make your personal statement stand out.

Interview – Best advice is to be enthusiastic and to be yourself.  Read a good newspaper on the day of your interview and the few days leading up to it (often  there are questions on current medical issues).  Re read your personal statement –look for bits where you may not have expanded much as these may be the areas the interviewers ask you more about.  Think about what you might want to say for some key questions eg “Why medicine” and “How do you deal with stress” but don’t script answers too much because it will sound fake.
Look on forums before your interview – some people put up what they got asked at recent interviews at particular med schools and the questions often don’t change much.

What if you don’t get in? This is in my opinion my most important bit of advice: Gap year and reapply!! Lots of gap year students get in esp if you do something useful with your time on your gap year that you can talk about at interview.   Get feedback from unis that rejected you so you can improve next time.
Phone, fax and email medical schools on results day – some medical place do very occasionally come up at clearing! A girl in my year got into keele despite not having applied there originally because she both phoned and emailed them her results + personal statement on results day and they offered her an interview – have heard of this happening to a few people at keele. 
 Seriously, the grad route is always a possibility but as you have to pay your own tuition fees for second degree (so thats £9000 upfront, no loan, per a year) this really should be your plan C not plan B, gap year gap year gap year!! 

Current medical student blogs e.g. obviously :p, but seriously theres some very interesting reads on the blogroll at the right of my main page (by Leeds WAMS, but lots of general advice and example interview questions) (a forum for medical applicants and current medical students) and/or then just go to the medicine pages.
Tomorrow’s doctors document: - this is apparently what medical schools want you to be like but I've got to admit its a bit wishy-washy and I only ever skim read it, whoopsy.

Bedside Stories: Confessions of a Junior Doctor (Paperback)
Michael Foxton
In Stitches: The Highs and Lows of Life as an AandE Doctor (Paperback)
Nick Edwards
Trust Me, I'm a (Junior) Doctor (Paperback)   (and all other Max pemberton books, all good reads!)
Max Pemberton

So none of this is by any means exhaustive, but I hope it helps a little.  Any of questions about applying that you have, please feel free to comment below and I will try and get back to you :).  Also I forgot to mention, how do you apply without losing your mind?? Well, I'm afraid I never discovered that one but I hope you enjoy the compulsion to constantly check your UCAS for changes more than I did ;) 

Halfadoc x

*Mainly a very annoying GP exam which combined genuine medical knowledge with rote learning/reciting type aspects about things such as the "WONCA tree" - google it if your interested but I don't advise bothering, for starters theres absolutely no connection to any chocolate factory ;D
** Don't take too many, that's just as bad.


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