Shadowing a DoctorApril 17, 2014
Applying for Medicine: Part Two
Gap Medics was an important part of my application process. I booked the Tanzania trip a couple of weeks prior to submitting my medicine application, so I was able to mention my planning for the trip in my personal statement. Following this, a few months later at interviews, I was asked about the trip and what it would entail. I was able to talk about how the hospital placements in Tanzania would be helpful in exposing me to the problems of healthcare in a developing country and useful for comparison with the NHS in the UK. They seemed to appreciate this and also liked how planning for the trip had made me much more independent e.g. booking flights, saving up to pay for everything, getting supplies etc. In hindsight, it would have been even better to have completed my two weeks with Gap Medics prior to interview, directly after I had finished sixth form. However, the planning process was still incredibly useful for me.
Interviews in general can sound like scary things. Whether it’s a panel of four interviewers asking you questions or multiple mini interviews lasting five minutes each, you will be nervous, and that’s completely normal. I found that the best way to overcome the nerves was just to concentrate on the question and answer as fully as you possibly can without trying to sound too clever. A lot of interviewers are clinicians themselves and don’t appreciate being told what a career in medicine is like by a sixth form student! Reading up on the GMC will be a huge help – issues on autonomy, confidentiality and Harold Shipman, amongst others, are popular at interview so be ready to discuss them in detail. A small piece of advice I was given really helped me – if you feel the interviewer is asking you harder questions that you can’t answer, it may be that they’re impressed with you and want to see how far they can push you. There’s always a positive side!
Some people will try to pick and choose which universities they apply to purely because they have heard it is “easier” to get a place there. In my experience, there’s no such thing as an “easy” application for a medical degree – concentrate more on improving your application as a whole and that should at least get you an interview. There are other options into medicine that I personally haven’t had experience with, like Graduate Entry Programmes and transfer courses such as Clinical Sciences at Bradford. You could use this latter option as a fifth choice on your UCAS application if you really wanted.
However, if you don’t get in first time, taking a gap year is not the end of the world – in fact I would encourage it! I was able to work, go travelling and do my Gap Medics placement during my gap year, and I can honestly say I grew as a person during my year out of education. It also helped me save up a few pennies and it was nice to know I had a little bit of spending money when I did eventually get into medicine!
I’m now in my second year of medicine at the University of Leeds and I love it. It’s hard work, both getting here and being here, but if you’re determined to have a career in medicine, it’s worth the long, hard application process!