Shadowing a DoctorNovember 27, 2014
There’s no doubt that applying to medical school can be a complex process involving varying eligibility requirements, different deadlines, multiple forms, open days and the most confusing of all, contradicting advice from different sources. Myths would be a more appropriate word to describe all of the contradictory advice and suggestions that float around when it comes to medical school admissions. And these myths can make the already complex medical school admission process even more overwhelming as you find yourself always second-guessing whether you are doing the right thing or not.
Here are some myths that are just that – myths. Believing in these myths can seriously jeopardise your med school application.
High grades is the only thing that matters when applying to medical school. Your personal essay does not play as huge a role.
This is one of the most common myths regarding med school applications and one that has sabotaged far too many applications. Yes, high grades and UKCAT scores are important and they do play a huge part in the selection process but they are by no means the only criteria. Believing that only your grades are important can be a grave mistake that could cost you a seat in medical school. Given that almost every candidate who applies to medical school will have high academic grades and impressive UKCAT scores, the admissions personnel are compelled to use the other factors to make their final shortlist of applicants to invite for the interview. This is where your personal essay and your clinical experience play significant roles. They are in fact, your tickets to securing an interview invitation. Volunteering, doing a healthcare internship, going on a medical placement or spending time shadowing a physician are some of the ways you can obtain relevant clinical experience. Participating in any of these activities shows that you are genuinely interested in helping people and also that you have explored this field, you know what to expect and you are well prepared for it. Your personal essay gives you a crucial platform to talk about your aspirations and experiences and to highlight the qualities that set you apart from the others.
The more extracurricular activities you participate in, the better your chances of securing admission.
Participating in extracurricular activities does boost your application tremendously as they prove that you are passionate about medicine and also that you know what you are signing up for. However this does not mean that the more activities you participate in the better your chances of gaining admission. As with most other factors in the admissions process, with extracurricular activities too, quality scores over quantity. Doing one medical placement where you spend several weeks learning, observing and helping medical professionals in resource poor settings carries far more weight than spending a couple of weekends helping in a neighbourhood nursing home. Another factor that is equally important, whether you participate in one activity or many, is being able to highlight not just what you did but what you took away from the experience. How did the experience help cement your motivation and passion for medicine? These are a few things to think about when choosing any extracurricular activity.