It’s no secret that getting into medical school is competitive.
From picking the right school and getting the grades, to writing a stand-out personal statement and nailing your interviews. There’s a lot to consider.
If you’re applying, you’ll be up against thousands of other students. And places aren’t just given out to anyone.
With nearly 10 applicants for every 1 place available, getting into university is no easy feat.
Luckily there’s plenty you can do now to give yourself a head start.
We’ve got some key pointers below to help you nail your UCAS application and stand out from the crowd.
So how do you get started...?
Know the deadlines
Although your school or college probably offers support with your UCAS application and should be aware of all the key dates and deadlines, you must take personal responsibility for your application and get started as soon as possible.
Keep a record of deadlines and progress to make sure your application is received on time and includes everything that’s required.
It’s not unusual for some hospitals to have waiting lists of several months for those looking for work experience.
Being organised and getting ahead of the game will give you the time to undertake any additional projects or get some extra experience under your belt.
Do your research
You can select up to four medical schools on your UCAS form (you’ll also be given a fifth choice to apply for an entirely different course), and it’s important you choose the right university for you.
Get clued up on what each university expects to see in your application – each institution will likely have different criteria.
Make a note of what they’d like you to address in your personal statement. Then team up with your academic reference to make sure their supporting statement covers the selection criteria too.
Your personal statement
This is your chance to show universities who you are, beyond just your grades. Write about your experience, your skills and attributes relevant to medicine.
Your personal statement gives you the opportunity to talk about your achievements, personal interests, hobbies, projects you’ve worked on and the prizes you’ve won.
Be sure to answer the following three questions in your personal statement:
Why do you want to study Medicine?
What have you done to learn about it?
Why would you be a great fit for it?
Although it’s a solid strategy to kickstart your personal statement, it’s fair to say that a lot of applications will follow a similar structure too.
So, with thousands of applications to go through, how do you make sure yours is the one that stands out?
Stand out from the crowd
Gaining relevant work experience is key. It’s something all medical schools will be on the lookout for when considering candidates.
Work experience demonstrates you have a passion for your future career, commitment to learning and a grasp on the realities of the profession.
But it’s not just about being able to say you’ve done it. Use the experience to show off what you know about being a doctor, or what you’ve learnt about working in the healthcare profession.
Talk about the new skills you gained and explain why these skills will be important during your degree.
Demonstrate how your work experience has prepared you, strengthened your desire to become a healthcare professional and opened your eyes to the areas of medicine you’d like to specialise in.
Not only should you write about what you found interesting, but also explain why it interested you.
You might be thinking ‘sure, but won’t all other applicants be doing some sort of work experience too?’. And the answer is probably. You’ll need to scout out those rare opportunities that will give you experience in a healthcare setting and impress your first-choice universities.
Stand out with an overseas experience
Consider going overseas for your work experience if you really want to stand out. By doing so you’ll get a clinical experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
You’ll have something unique to talk about in your personal statement and it’ll be experience that all but a select few have.
Not only will it boost your academic profile and stand out in your UCAS application, but it will also leave you prepared to tackle university one step ahead of your peers.
Going overseas will:
Strengthen your academic profile
Impress medical schools with proof of experience within a clinical setting
Build your confidence by stepping out of your comfort zone
Give you an idea of where you might specialise later in your career
Gain you an extra professional reference from a Clinical Director to add to your portfolio
Remember to always explain why in your personal statement. Why is a career in healthcare important to you? Why do you want to attend a certain university? Why did you choose to take part in an overseas experience?
And hopefully, with these pointers, you’ll be well on your way to securing an interview at your first-choice university!