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An Interview With Krishan

How did you get involved in Medic Mentor and why?

I don’t know why I remember this so well! I sat with my Dad with a notepad trying to jot down as much information I can from the Get into Medicine Conferences. As Dr Kennedy and Dr Siva shared their wisdom about tips and tricks to get through the medical application process, I was thinking to myself that this is going to be one of the biggest challenges I have faced. However, on the flip side, the conference gave me guidance into the steps on what to do next in order to fulfil my dream of getting into medical school. The Get into Medicine conference was recommended to me by my career advisor at school. Who knew that just attending this conference would lead to so many opportunities and ultimately help me in getting to where I am today! I surely didn’t!

What were you most scared of/worried about when it came to applying to medical school?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the most difficult aspect of applying to medical school for me has to be the dreaded UCAT. I vividly recall sitting in the test centre waiting for my name to be called. The knots in my stomach…thinking how unpleasantly warm it is in the room… wondering whether the people around me are feeling the same. 

Looking back at it, I don’t know why I worried so much because I knew I prepared for the assessment, but I guess nerves come with any test which could affect the future. I also felt worried and stressed afterwards because there was a technical difficulty with my UCAT. I didn’t know how universities would interpret this. I think all the uncertainty played on my mind a lot. Despite my situation, I received offers from medical schools, and I’m proud to say that my work preparing for the UCAT paid off.

Sitting the UCAT for me was a learning experience which showed me that worrying and stressing about an uncontrollable situation is futile. Therefore, why do we worry in the first place? I know trying not to worry about something so important may seem easier said than done but it is a vital life skill which can positively impact your mental health for future similar scenarios.

Describe your experience of the Medical Awards Programme

I joined the Medical Awards Programme relatively late in Year 12. At first, I thought to myself that some of the activities I did towards completing each section seemed a bit useless. However, once it came to writing my personal statement, I had a whole portfolio of activities I had done that I could use to craft the best possible representation of myself. It hit me in Summer School when writing each paragraph of my personal statement. I had been indirectly preparing for this moment by completing the awards programme.

The awards programme also puts you in good stride to become a scholar, which also adds to the reason why I believe the awards programme is one of the best initiatives Medic Mentor offers.

The Medical Awards Programme is a succinct programme designed to encourage us to create content for our personal statements and guide us into making an informed decision about medicine overall.

Describe your experience of the Medic Mentor Summer School Programme

Summer School was one of the most intense but rewarding experiences of my life. When you hear about how students can create their personal statements in a matter of 2 or 3 days as well as start preparing for all the other aspects of medical application, you wonder how all of this is really done. Don’t worry, this isn’t sorcery. Medic Mentor’s Summer School Programme created an environment where I could purely focus on improving my medical application by receiving support from experts.

Although it is hard work, it does pay off and I found the experience fun overall!

Describe your experience of writing personal statements; What was difficult and what helped?

Controversial opinion; I genuinely liked writing my personal statement. Even though it felt tedious to continuously re-read and re-iterate my work, I liked that I could write a reflective piece about everything I had done to make an informed decision on why I wanted to study medicine. Creating a first draft was the most daunting task in my opinion but this was relatively easy for me to do whilst I was at Summer School. I think the most difficult aspect of writing a personal statement is typing those first few words. However, once I had a draft to work with, everything fell into place and before I knew it, I had my final version.

I feel proud of the experiences and opportunities I have achieved, and the personal statement was a tool to reassure me that becoming a doctor is something I want to do. Of course, I had made the decision that I wanted to pursue medicine way before writing the personal statement, but it was nice to demonstrate how I had taken part in a variety of activities not because I had to but because I wanted to out of interest and curiosity.

Describe your experience of preparing for the UCAT; What was difficult and what helped?

I vividly recall sitting in the test centre waiting for my name to be called. The knots in my stomach…thinking how unpleasantly warm it is in the room… wondering whether the people around me are feeling the same. Looking back at it, I don’t know why I worried so much because I knew I prepared for the assessment by using question banks and focusing on my weaknesses, but I guess nerves come with any test which could affect the future. I also felt worried and stressed afterwards because there was a technical difficulty with my UCAT. I didn’t know how universities would interpret this. I think all the uncertainty played on my mind a lot. I am glad I had my friends and family as a support system to talk to and take the edge off some of my anxiety. Despite my situation, I received offers from medical schools, and I am proud to say that my work preparing for the UCAT paid off.

Sitting the UCAT for me was a learning experience which showed me that worrying and stressing about an uncontrollable situation is futile. Therefore, why do we worry in the first place? I know trying not to worry about something is so important and may seem easier said than done but it is a vital life skill which can positively impact your mental health for future similar scenarios.

Describe your experience of preparing for the BMAT, what was difficult and what helped?

At one-point BMAT was the bane of my existence. This was because there was just so much to learn, and I found that to be tough especially whilst juggling all of this with school work. I believe that the one piece of advice which dramatically improved my score is that you need to focus on what you are worst at. The BMAT assessment is always structured in the same format with similar questions year in/year out. If you can master the strategy to answer each question format effectively and answer every question with at least an educated guess, then you should have no problems with the BMAT.

Describe your experience of preparing for the interviews, what was difficult and what helped?

I think what makes interviews difficult is the sheer unpredictability of each one. One weird interview I had was where there was no interviewer. Yes, you read that correctly. I had an interview with no interviewer. The interview consisted of reading an on-screen prompt and answering their questions in a short given amount of time which was recorded whilst on an online meeting. I found this to be so weird because I was literally talking to my laptop for the best part of an hour with no other human interaction whatsoever.

Apart from the interview with no interviewer, I liked the interview process because it was different to any assessment that I had done before. Exams up to secondary school have all involved sitting in a hall with pen and paper, however, interviews enabled me to showcase who I really am. I received 4 interviews which were all online so perfecting simple actions such as talking clearly, exaggerating body language and interacting with a screen rather than a person was crucial for success.

One piece of advice for anyone who wishes to improve their interview technique: you can probably guess it. Practice, practice, practice.

Describe your experience of preparing for school exams, what was difficult and what helped?

Once the storm of medical applications ends, all that is left is the final exams of school. For me, the most difficult part of this was trying not to burn out. It is easy to think that the more work you do, the higher chance there is of receiving a high grade, but in reality this is not true at all. Burnout is real and it is so easy to fall into its trap. You don’t feel motivated to do work, so you half-heartedly revise which makes you feel guilty, and this makes you want to do more work and then the next revision session you have is heart hearted again.

This vicious cycle is something which has happened to me and has happened to those around me. Medics are known to be hardworking but there is a limit to what we can and can’t do. I believe that finding that balance ultimately influenced my school examination results the most. For me, having a mindset which was ready to sit an exam was more important than actually trying to revise the content. Maybe you are reading this and you feel that you may be in that trap. My advice is to please take breaks and be mentally ready for when you sit your exams.

Why did you choose to apply for the scholarship programme?

Keeping this quite simple, the scholarship programme is a chance for me to showcase what I have learned throughout my time being mentored by Medic Mentor and successfully completing the medical application process with offers, whilst having an opportunity to give back to the Medic Mentor community.

This is important to me as this enterprise has done so much for me and I take fulfilment in helping the next generation of future medical students achieve their dreams.

How have you found being a medical student?

Being a first-year medical student is surreal. It feels like I am traversing an unknown environment on a rollercoaster of emotions trying to survive the heaps of work set. I have to admit I have painted medical school to be awful there, but this is because I haven’t told you the positives. I am also pursuing my dream journey which I am excited about; meeting friends on the way and learning more about the human body to hopefully become a successful doctor. There are positives and negatives to being a medical student. Yes, the bad days are bad, but the good days are amazing, and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

Medical School can be overwhelming at times but if it is something you are passionate about, you will thrive.

I remember talking to medical students when I was applying and one medical student said something which really stuck with me:

‘It’s all about perspective at the end of the day. For example, an awful day may just be an opportunity to learn and improve yourself. If you never had bad days, then what would the good days be called?”

Do you have any advice for Parents?

I wanted to write an extended piece of writing for this question because I feel that it is something which many parents ask but rarely gets addressed. It is a difficult question to answer but I have written the below based on the actions of my parents. The role models in my life who I am so grateful for:

Parents: The Hidden Heroes shaping the success of medical applicants.

The journey into medical school is filled with challenges and obstacles. It requires dedication, resilience, and continual support to succeed. While we often focus our advice towards aspiring medical students, we neglect our capability to help the heroes behind the scenes: the parents and guardians. This post will explore the vital role parents and guardians have in helping their loved ones get into medical school. From providing a support mechanism to offering guidance, my parents’ influence was a hidden gem to me in my application process which I severely underestimated. However, it proved to be something profound to propel me towards my dream of becoming a future doctor.

A rock to lean on: throughout a rollercoaster of emotions.
Facing extenuating circumstances during my UCAT due to a technical difficulty was an unexpected challenge which I wasn’t prepared for. However, I was fortunate to have my parents as an unwavering support system throughout this test of resilience. They stood by my side, providing the strength and reassurance I needed to keep a level head. Their constant presence and encouragement were so valuable in helping me navigate the situation and ultimately maintain composure throughout the application process. With their guidance, I was able to complete all the necessary administrative tasks to ensure that universities recognised my circumstances fairly. The safe space my parents provided allowed me to freely express my fears and frustrations, which were essential for me to release my emotions about this situation beyond my control. Therefore, I was able to move forward without jeopardising the rest of my application.

Behind the wheel: assisting with medical endeavours.
Practical support from parents and guardians plays a pivotal role. While we may jokingly refer to parents as our personal chauffeurs, the truth is that their logistical assistance is crucial. My parents helped me in getting to work experience placements by dropping me off and picking me up, allowing me to broaden my horizon of opportunities that I could accept. Even seemingly small gestures such as my parents double and triple-checking everything, made a significant impact. With the multitude of requirements in the application process, having extra eyes on what I was doing ensured that nothing was overlooked. Through this, I want to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices my own parents, and parents everywhere have made for aspiring doctors to succeed. I am truly grateful.

Wisdom from experience: giving advice and feedback.
When it comes to applying to university, particularly in the field of medicine, the application process can be daunting and unfamiliar. This was the case for me as I knew that I had not encountered anything like this throughout my time in school. I found that school curriculums rarely prepare students for the intricacies involved. This is where the value of parental or guardian advice based on their own life experiences becomes evident. I have always looked up to my parents, knowing that they have gained wisdom about life over the years. Their insights into how optimising CVs, understanding aptitude tests and presenting oneself in an interview have been extremely useful. The life skills that are not only integral in medical applications but also in life, in general, are often not taught in school, but my parents bridged this gap in knowledge. One example of this is that they shared strategies for effectively managing the overwhelming challenge of multitasking and juggling numerous responsibilities. By mentoring me in being able to prioritise activities based on relevance and urgency, I was able to keep on top of things. Their constructive feedback and advice helped me to reach the point I am at today.

While the journey to medical school may seem like an individual task to the person applying, the reality is that parents and guardians play an indispensable role in the success of future doctors. From providing emotional support, practical assistance and guidance, my parents’ involvements were crucial for me to get to where I am in becoming a medical student. As we acknowledge their generally concealed contributions, let us be grateful for our hidden heroes who shape the success of the next generation of medical professionals.

Do you have any advice for teachers?

I feel that all teachers want what’s best for their students. Personally, I feel that the best thing my teachers did whilst I was applying to medicine was to give me a safe space to be open about my feelings.

Applying to medicine is stressful.

Revising for exams in school is stressful.

Often personal life can be stressful.

And despite this, I always knew that I could knock on their door to have a chat. A simple conversation always helped me and it’s something which I cherished during my time in secondary school. Sometimes we overlook the simplest of actions which can catalyse the most profound benefits to a person’s life.

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