Shadowing a DoctorOctober 9, 2014
Are you all set for October 15th? With the deadline for UK medical school applications just around the corner, make sure you have considered and reconsidered all aspects of your submission.
Now is the time to be putting in the finishing touches, you should be revisiting it regularly, sense checking it and making sure you haven’t missed out any vital information.
As you are doing so, here are a few points that you should keep in mind in the run up to the final application date.
1. Are you 100% happy with your medical school selections?
Have you done all the research you can on the courses and schools you have selected? This may sound obvious but you will (hopefully) have to spend a considerable amount of time at one of these institutions in the very near future, so choose wisely!
In 2013, one-in-fifteen undergraduates left university without completing the first year of their degree*; we don’t want you to be one of them! Make sure that you are applying for a course that meets your needs from the outset.
Have you researched the course components in depth? You should be aware which teaching approach is used on your courses of choice; problem based learning (PBL), integrated or traditional. Are you happy with the length of your course? Have you looked into the modules you will be taught and the placement opportunities available to ensure they cover what you are hoping to get from your studies?
Ensure that you haven’t set the bar too high and that the entry grades required are realistically attainable. You should also be aware whether your choices take BMAT or UKCAT tests into consideration. Did you do well enough in these to be confident that it will stand you in good stead?
The medical school you end up attending will become your home for, in some cases, as long as 6 years. You should of considered whether you will be able to make each location of choice your home. What does the surrounding area have to offer that appeals to you? Is it in comfortable proximity to home?
2. Have you covered the following key areas in your personal statement?
- Why you want to study medicine
Have you made it abundantly clear to the admissions tutor what has motivated you to study medicine? The most important thing here is that you have been honest. If your decision to study medicine has been a fairly recent development, there is no reason to think this will put you at any disadvantage to those who declare it their lifelong dream. Tutors are looking for the motivation behind your application so make sure you give them it!
- Work experience, its relevance and why it makes you a credible candidate
Ensure that you haven’t simply listed all the places you have worked or all the things you have done and the procedures you have seen. Admissions tutors are looking for you to talk about the impact these have had on you and what you have learned as a result. This may well tie in with the previous point – was there a particular pinnacle experience that made it clear to you that you wanted to study medicine?
- Commitment to and knowledge about medicine
If you have volunteered in healthcare environments, make sure you have capitalised on this. This is your opportunity to show that you are committed to pursuing a career in medicine, so much so that you have used your initiative and volunteered your time to gain useful medical exposure. Again, importantly, have you given details as to what you learned in these situations?
- Extracurricular activities
Have you shown some evidence of non-medical related interests as well? Yes, admissions tutors do want to hear about all of the above but they will also be looking for you to tell them something interesting and unique about yourself. Ensure that you have given enough insight into your personal interests and put yourself forward as the perfect, well-rounded candidate.
3. Have you obtained and included your reference?
Your reference is one of the most important parts of your application and will help universities to assess whether you are an appropriate applicant for the course. Is the person writing your reference in possession of all the facts? Are they aware of unpaid placements or voluntary work you have undertook? A mention of these commitments by an alternative credible source will strengthen any reference you have made to these in your personal statement.
4. Has your application been proofread by a fresh set of eyes?
Due to the abundance of applications, admissions tutors will likely discard those that carry spelling or grammar mistakes immediately. Don’t let something that is so easily avoidable jeopardise your chance of an offer to study medicine!
Don’t rely on your own eyes alone. Ask, family members, teachers or even your friends to read over your application for you as it is common to become blind to your own mistakes. In addition, try printing out your application and proofreading it on paper, you will surprise yourself at just how many errors you can miss through a computer screen!
5. Are your personal details correct?
You will have been working on your medical school application for several weeks or even months now and it is vitally important to assess whether your personal circumstances are the same when application submission date comes around. Do you live at the same address? Has your mobile number changed? When the time comes, make sure medical schools are able to reach you quickly and easily to save yourself any further, unnecessary suspense.
Even after your application has been submitted, remember to keep your details updated on UCAS!