Education Eye: Want to be a doctor? Take your medicine early and plan to impress

Considering applying to study medicine at university is not a decision to be taken lightly.

By Catherine Stoker, director of The Independent Education Consultants
Sunday, 6th April 2014, 7:30 am
Catherine Stoker
Catherine Stoker

The competition for places is stiff and the course itself requires commitment and resilience as it is full on and challenging. Only the best gain entry and subsequently complete the course. If medicine is definitely the vocational career for you, it is important to make the strongest application possible and prepare well for the interviews.

Here are just a few pointers to help plan a good application during your sixth form years. Start early!

Firstly make sure you are totally dedicated to a career as a doctor. You must have a passion for medicine, excellent communication skills, sensitivity, compassion, cultural awareness, determination, manual dexterity and heaps of common sense.

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Plan work experience.

Waiting lists for opportunities at hospitals can be long so apply early. Think creatively about other opportunities to learn relevant skills. For example, gain caring experience through charity or hospice work, St John’s Ambulance or Red Cross or contacting your local GP or small hospital.

Apply yourself with enthusiasm and commitment to any relevant opportunity and don’t be afraid to tap into personal contacts.

Think how you will demonstrate your resilience, commitment and determination in the face of challenge and long working hours.

Might be through D of E award or trekking in the Amazon, but being able to highlight personality traits and skills is more important than what you actually did.

Consider when during the 1 July to 4 Oct window you will take the UKCAT and/or BMAT tests. Depends on which universities you are applying to and your order of preference as to which you take and when.

There are heaps of online resources to support your preparation, once you have decided.

Prepare well for your interviews by researching the method used by each individual university.

Some do multi mini interviews, while others do more traditional panel interviews, role play or group discussions.