Preparation for Application and Interview

There are some aspects of performance and behaviour which you can pretty much expect to get your application rejected every time. So, if you allow these to creep into your applications because you have not been meticulous enough to keep them out, you are unwittingly displaying a careless and sloppy side to your work ethic that is not the hallmark of a great doctor. You are sending a signal which says that your application is not at the top of your priority list. Let’s take a look at the list of mistakes you really can’t afford to make.

Making a poor choice of universities to apply to in the first place

Before you actually apply, you should be sure that you are able to meet the offer that’s likely to be made, provided you make an excellent effort.

UCAT/BMAT below par for the school to which you are applying

Last minute/Late Application

Medical schools have a rolling admissions policy in general and therefore the earlier you apply, the more places are still available. So, get your completed application in early to maximise your chances of being called for interview.

Check your personal statement

This is a personal statement, so it has to tell a story about you, not just your academic journey. The reader should know from it why you want to be a doctor and it cannot simply be because you want to people. Many people want to help others, but they are not all doctors. For example some are nurses. Something in your thinking drove you to make a different choice from that. So expand on your thinking here and really explain.

The empathy you feel, your ability to connect with people and share something of what their problem is, should really come across in the statement. You should sound like you really want to be part of finding the solution to the patient’s problem, not just for academic reasons, but because it will make life better for the patient.

Consider your work experience/internships

Your work experience should most definitely include some clinical experience. How is that defined? Well, we could just say working in close contact with the patient, but that leaves many possibilities that could be thought of as clinical experience.

Let me give you a quick example. Some years ago, I visited my GP with a cold sore on my lip, which had become quite badly infected and it needed to be cleaned before any treatment could be given. The GP had an intern with him, to whom he assigned the cleaning task. Within a minute or two, it was obvious that cleaning the sore was going to be very painful for me. At that point, as the GP left the consulting room, the intern handed me a cotton bud and said it would be less painful, probably, if I cleaned it myself.

How good was the intern’s clinical experience gained from that patient interaction ? Did the intern show empathy ? Does this augur well for a career where interaction with sick patients will be a daily occurrence?