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Articles > Student Life October, 24, 2018

5 Things You’ll Know if You’re Applying for Medicine

Jacob McSweeney
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We all know applying for Medicine is hard. Here are the top 5 things you’ll understand if you’re applying to Medicine…

1. Constant stress.

We all know the medical profession brings about a great amount of responsibility, but with responsibility comes stress! The worst part is that most of the stress of Medicine comes before you even start university; countless hours of worrying over personal statements, admissions tests are only the beginning! There’s so that there is never a single second where you just do nothing… I’m fairly sure I wrote most of my personal statement in my sleep.

2. It just won’t fit!

Who decided that 4000 is a sufficient character count for summing-up your entire life story!? Forget light-hearted paragraphs about childhood experiences: Medicine personal statements are more like complex algorithms and equations. In a subject where every place is oversubscribed, it truly is an all-out brawl for acceptance, and boy do they make you earn it! I remember constantly trying to cram more and more in while simultaneously trying to keep the word count as low as possible – you’re fighting a losing battle, you need to add more but say less…
But ohh when the day comes, when you paste that delicately-crafted personal statement into the UCAS box and it just fits!
Ahhh, relax…

3. Stop relaxing. Admission test time

We all love admissions tests, right? “Jamie has two brothers, one who is 5ft and the other is 6ft, how old is their aunt Susan?”. Admissions tests are the bane of my life and I’m happy to say I’ll never have to sit one again (unless I don’t get accepted this time… see what I mean about constant stress?)
First is the UKCAT, an eclectic mix of problem-solving questions, abstract reasoning and complete madness! I still remember spending hours staring at shapes, failing to identify how they related to one another. Although, with a bit (a lot) of practice, the questions became attemptable(ish).
But then comes BMAT. “BMAT will be easier,” they said, “GCSE Science,” they said. They were wrong. The BMAT is two hours of manic problem solving, topped off with a beautiful essay question: you are provided with 30 minutes to write one side of A4 on a question you choose from a list. The essay is arguably the easiest part of BMAT, which is why the lovely examiners give it much less weighting than the two other sections… how kind.

4. Oops, I forgot my A-Levels existed

What even is a polysaccharide? Alongside all the stress of UCAS applications, admissions tests and work experience, you still have tutors pestering you to get the highest possible grades. My tutors were also kind enough to give me ALL of my assessments in the same week as my BMAT (why are they like this?). Personally, I feel I let go of my studies during my applications, but my current grades didn’t decide if I would be invited to interview, so UKCAT and BMAT took priority!

5. Blended food, odd smells, headaches

If you hadn’t realised already, work experience is a wakeup call: you realise that Medicine isn’t glamorous. Like myself, most students find themselves volunteering in care homes. My care home work was undoubtedly one of my most memorable life experiences; I loved it (apart from the odd smells in the staff break room… very strange).
Honestly, even if you’re not applying to Medicine, I would recommend volunteering in a care home – you’ll suddenly realise how good you’ve got it. It may be quite overwhelming, but you’ll come out stronger, more eager and feeling good about having made a difference. A highlight of my time at the care home has to be the gardening I did with the residents. They all had such fascinating stories to tell as they gazed upon me struggling to plant a range of vegetables.
Although there were many good times, I suddenly realised how brutal life could get while trying to explain to a dementia sufferer why she needed to eat. She would tell me, “no, you have it, you need to have your lunch,” as I tried to feed her. I tried everything, I wanted to help. Illness sucks.

That’s our motive, our drive, our fuel. We don’t apply to study Medicine because we enjoy stress or admissions tests. We do it because we care, we want change, and we want to help. The medicine application is a test. If you’re willing to put yourself through heaps of stress and endless work then you’re already a good candidate, it’s obvious that it’s more than just a career to you.

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