By Dr. Robert Morgan, Royal College of GPs
Deciding on a career in medicine is probably the easiest choice you’re going to make this year. It’s once you’ve made this decision that the work truly begins, as you’re taken on a journey that offers you a course and a job unlike any other.
There are 33 medical schools in the UK and it’s important you select the right one for you. This will depend on many factors, but a very useful resource is the medical school’s council website (https://www.medschools.ac.uk). This will have all the information you need regarding entry requirements, course structure and expectations of your personal statement and interview. And don’t forget to visit the websites of any universities you’re interested in.
Dr. Robert Morgan
Preparing to go to university should involve doing some sort of work experience upon which you can reflect in your personal statement. Work experience does not have to be in a clinical setting such as a hospital or a GP practice, but it should provide an opportunity to develop an understanding of how the skills and attributes you have used in your work experience will be applied to a career in medicine. It may be useful to keep a reflective diary of your work experiences that you can use when writing your statement.
Most medical schools will require you to take either the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) and attend an interview. Both UKCAT and BMAT websites are useful in giving an overall picture of what you need to do for these tests and which universities use them. Remember though, like any test, practice will always help and both websites have practice questions.
Similarly, before you go to your interview, it’s important to find out what type of interview you will get and prepare for it in advance . All universities web pages will give you details of the type of interview you are likely to have. You should also try to go to Open Days to find out more. Some universities offer what you and I might think of as a traditional interview i.e. being asked questions by a panel. However, more and more universities, are adopting multiple mini interviews whereby applicants rotate round a number of stations, each lasting a few minutes and each exploring the personal qualities and attributes important in developing good doctors for the future.
All interviews, regardless of the format, will test your ability to think, interpret data and communicate your ideas. Once you know you have an interview and what type it is, you should practice as much as possible as this will make it go better on the day. For further information visit: https://www.medschools.ac.uk/studying-medicine/applications/interviews
Max Rees, former Seren student now studying Medicine in UCL, says:
“When it comes to applying to Medicine, preparation is key and remaining both calm and focused through the remaining few months of A-Levels will get you through. Applications are due in early October of Year 13, and by then you should have completed either the UKCAT or BMAT (or both) entry examinations.
“Year 13 can be very stressful, more so at the beginning of the year, because there is quite a big jump up from the difficulty of Year 12 but keep up-to-date with the work and try to forget about your application after you’ve sent it off as much as you can. You should start getting offers for interview around Christmas time up until March, and hopefully after your interviews you’ll begin to get your offers of places.
“If you don’t get offers, however, don’t let this affect your performance in you’re A-Levels because good grades will stand you in good stead to reapply with more experience the following year.”