I was thinking today about the advice that I wish I had known before I had started applying for medicine. It really is a bit of a long road to get into medical school and takes a lot of determination and work to get there. You have hurdles with work experience, entrance tests like BMAT, writing your personal statement, getting your grades (and predicted grades), securing an interview, doing well at interview… the list is pretty long. But it is so, so worth it so don’t let this put you off at all cause it all does make sense!
Broadly…medical schools are looking for:
- A genuinely kind person who wants to be a doctor
- Someone who is smart and willing to put in the work when they don’t understand concepts
- Someone who they would want on their team/want them to be their doctor
Right so let’s break this down a bit and show where the above hurdles come in!
A genuinely kind person who wants to be a doctor
Getting work experience ticks the box of showing you actually want to be a doctor and have gone out of your way to find a placement. Also, just keeping up to date with health news and advances is great. Additionally, doing voluntary work and being a team player at school shows you are a genuinely kind person!
Someone who is smart and willing to put in the work when they don’t understand concepts
Imperial, and I’m sure most other universities, want you to have a good grasp on basic scientific concepts. You can do this by just being keen (keen is cool is the slogan here!). Do not be too worried about your GCSE results, just find out from universities what exact requirements they have for GCSE grades by contacting them directly. For A level, it’s getting increasingly necessary to bank that A star. But this is all about working hard, and putting in the extra hours of past papers and textbook reading. It definitely is doable with the right plan in action to get that grade! If not, you can (worst case!) resit, just check with universities you want to apply to first if they accept resits without mitigating circumstances.
Someone who they would want on their team/want them to be their doctor
Really at the end of the day, you will fall at the interview hurdle if you just are not yourself. I messed up one of my interviews so badly by trying to be what I thought the interviewers wanted, and my feedback showed me this was completely the wrong way. If you are genuine and show a true interest in helping the health of others…well… it looks amazing and will make you stand out! Be yourself, be kind and think before answering questions.
All in all, yes, it’s a long and tough process to apply to do medicine…BUT…it is completely doable and 300 of us every year do it here at Imperial alone! Even if luck is not in your favour on the first attempt of applying, taking a gap year will only make you into a more resilient and better candidate. If you stay true to you and just try as hard as you can at school, volunteering and being the best person you can…who would say no to you!!? And studying medicine is incredible, especially here at Imperial!
You’ve got this!