Shadowing a DoctorMarch 28, 2012
The main thing to remember when applying for any course at university is to keep to the deadlines. Many medical courses also require that you complete an admissions test and so the deadline for these courses is earlier than many others, in October rather than January. Be very careful to meet this deadline, preferably with as long as possible to spare. Please don’t trust the post to deliver by October 15th if you post on October 14th! Submissions after the deadline will still be considered, but only if there are available spaces. Another thing to remember at this early stage is where to apply. If you love the countryside and peace and quiet, don’t apply to London, because you won’t be happy. Also consider whether you will easily be able to get home from your chosen university. You may feel like a change of venue, but home is where the heart is and where you can get your washing done, so don’t be too adventurous unless the course is totally stunning and not available elsewhere.
Discuss your application with your teachers, both subject and form tutors. Whilst obviously the information on the form has to be factually accurate, there are certain things which admissions staff at universities do not want to see on your personal statement. If your only activity outside school is playing on your X box it would probably be a good idea to find some other way of expressing that; an interest in mixed media or a fascination with the development of new technology might sound better than a love of blowing zombies to smithereens. It is tempting when applying for a medicine based course to claim a desire to change the world and make man’s lot better. Try to avoid clichés like this; it is hopefully a given that you want to help people. Stories of how you bandaged your dolls as a child will not make you sound like someone who will be level headed in a crisis.
A seemingly obvious thing to consider and which is sometimes the reason for disappointment when the offers fail to materialise is to make sure that your exam subjects and your predicted grades meet the needs of your chosen course. Science A and AS levels are a requirement for medical courses, but alongside that it is almost universal that you will be expected to have maths at a reasonable grade at GSCE and also a fluent and confident grasp of English. Medicine is about people at the end of the process after all and the need to be able to communicate both with the patient and their families as well as colleagues is essential. A badly written report can put back treatment or even accurate diagnosis with possibly disastrous results.
Forms can be daunting, so give yourself long enough to fill the UCAS form in. This may well be the most important form you ever complete and whilst obviously if you don’t get the offers this time you can always try again another year, it is certainly best to get it right first time. Make sure that you have filled in every relevant bit, accurately. Write your personal statement separately and show it to as many people as possible. Your staff at school or college will want you to get it right and won’t mind going over it with you until it is perfect. Make sure that the staff know all about you as well so that their reference will reflect the real you. If you give proper attention to completing your UCAS form, you will have done all you can to assure your success.