Getting into medicine

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I often get questions from people about applying to medical school and I though a blog post was in order.

Recently I was contacted by Isha who wrote this blog post. Have a read of the information about her below and some of the questions she asked me. If you’re thinking of applying to medical school (high five my friend) and have any questions, then reach out to me and I will be happy to help. I have spoke to Isha on the phone and can read over personal statements or help with interview practice if you need it.

Over to Isha…

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My name is Isha, and I live on a small (I really mean tiny) island in Northern Scotland. I am currently entering my 4th year of high school and I hope to study medicine in the future, although remaining optimistic, I am working hard to make sure that I make an informed choice – hence why I contacted Salma!

It was quite a journey finding Salma’s blog, but I’m sure glad I did! I was browsing online trying to explore medicine as a career, and this is when I came across a post on Salma’s story on how she got into Medical school (getintomedicine). From reading this, I was eager to ask some questions and I luckily then came across her on Twitter which then lead to me to find her blog.


1. What sort of work experience should I do?

Anything that gives you experience of what a doctor does is good work experience. Medicine is a broad field and you have many options. I would say try and get time in a GP practice and a hospital. Having said that I only did work experience in a hospital and that was sufficient. You need to demonstrate that you have experience of what a being a doctor is like so anything that you can use to show that is good. Doing work experience in a hospital shadowing a doctor is the obvious example but doctors also work in labs and you could try and get some experience there.


2. When should I start looking into getting work experience?

I would say as soon as you are considering medicine try and get some work experience. The process can be long, with CRB checks and a limited number of places. Also for yourself and not just for your personal experience, it’s a good idea to see practically what it is like being a doctor before you attempt to commit yourself. When I did work experience half of the people hated it and decided medicine wasn’t for them. Better to know early on.


3. Is there any summer schools that you would recommend?

Some universities do summer schools which are tailored to people wanting to do medicine. My old flatmate actually did one for medicine at bristol and then went on to study medicine at bristol. These are usually open to student aged 17 and are advertised at the start of the year. Keep an eye out and ask your careers advisor. If there isn’t one local to you, consider traveling. These are a fantastic opportunity.


4. What type of volunteering is recommended doing?

I don’t think it really matters which type. Anything that shows that you have interpersonal skills is good. I would add that something done for a longer period of time is better than just a week here and there. I use to volunteer in a mental health unit every week and at an AIDS support services.


5. Would it give me an advantage by doing some work experience/charity work in a developing country?

I would say that this is useful but not necessary. You can show a commitment and interest in medicine without leaving the  country by getting some work experience and showing an understanding about what medical school will be like and what being a doctor is all about. Having said that, if you are going abroad anyway, this won’t hurt your application. It can give you something to talk about at interview and it’s always interesting seeing how other health care systems operate. Work experience may also be easier for you to get abroad aswell.

In short, if you can do this, great. If not, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.


6. How important are extra-curricular activities?

Medical school and then being a doctor is demanding. Extra-curricular activities will SAVE YOU in medicine by keeping you sane and demonstrate to someone reading your personal statement that you can not only get great graded but know how to keep a balanced life. That being said, don’t pick up things for the sake it at the expense of your grades. I did everything at school, drama productions, sports teams, athletics, I was that student volunteering to show parents around during the other years parents evening (judge me). But I enjoyed it.

Anything that can show you are a well rounded individual is good. But you can think outside the box. If you have to look after your younger siblings and don’t have time for much else, you can talk about that at interview. It shows responsibility and that you are able to balance that responsibility with school work.


7. Is there anything which I could be doing now that may give me an edge over my application in the future?

Make sure you have as good an idea as possible of what medicine is like. Not just for your application but for yourself. If you really want to do medicine you will make it work.

The thing that will make YOU stand out is being brilliant and being YOU.

When I was at my interview, there was a girl who had a lever arch folder of notes she was revising- all clippings and medicine related stories. I looked at her and thought the only thing that I have over her is that I’m me.

I didn’t go to a fancy school and no one coached me for interviews but I was me and I had confidence in myself that this was the right degree for me. I just had to make the interviewer see that.

I gave it my best shot and got in. Medicine is competitive but so what, you have as good a shot as anyone else so best foot forward and best of luck!

You got this.

Salma xx















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