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Studying Medicine: How My Medical Journey Began

How did you get involved in Medic Mentor and why?

Is it too late?  This was my initial thought when I found out about Medic Mentor in Year 11.  It felt as though lots of students had been involved with Medic Mentor projects for a while and I was worried I may have missed out.  However, over the course of a few weeks, I was attending weekly VMS meetings and before long became a committee member of the Medic Mentor Book Club.  From the very first Get Into Medicine conference that I attended with my mum to beginning university as a Medic Mentor Scholar, my hand has been held by Medic Mentor throughout and it can do the same for you. 

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

Does anyone know how much I want this?  I remember thinking, ‘please, just give me a chance’.  In the midst of the application process, it can feel as though you are merely another number on the list of other applicants.  Indeed, you can get very bogged down with looking at all the stats.  There are many times in the application process where you doubt the possibility of being successful.  For me, there were two periods that were most challenging; the first being after the application tests and the wait for interviews (luckily, I was invited to three).  The biggest challenge followed: rejections (unluckily, there were four).  This was really de-motivating, especially in the lead up to sitting my A Level exams.  However, in these moments, Medic Mentor provided that reminder about why I’m applying, why I want to be a doctor and this kept me going! 

Describe your experience of the Get into Medicine Conference

The Get into Medicine Conference was my first exposure to Medic Mentor.  I remember feeling overwhelmed: can I really do this?  However, I could also tell that Medic Mentor were going to be with me throughout this journey, however challenging.  Attending the conference with my mum was really beneficial for both of us, we could see we would be on this journey together and I relied on my mum’s support a lot when applying.  

Describe your experience of the Awards Programme

I really enjoyed participating in the Awards Programme.  It gave me a drive to complete many different activities that I was able to later reflect on in my personal statement and at interviews.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment when I was able to complete a section and this continued to fuel my drive throughout the application process.

Describe your experience of the Medical Leadership Programme

The Medical Leadership Programme enabled me to meet other applicants from across the country and this really excited me for Medical School; it was my first experience of collaborating with other students who shared my passion for Medicine.  I really enjoyed working alongside my peers to conduct research and make a project which was displayed at a national conference.  Answering questions at this event also gave me experience of public speaking and thinking on my feet; skills vital for interviews.  

Describe your experience of the Summer School

Despite attending Summer School virtually, it provided a network of support.  I had the realisation that I was not alone on this journey.  Completing my personal statement in just 3 days was a massive time-saver and enabled me to focus on UCAT preparation over the summer.  The UCAT teaching offered by scholars provided me with the opportunity to ask questions and to learn key techniques to tackle the various question types.  Logging onto a Zoom call every weekday in the month leading up to my UCAT exam provided a community in the otherwise isolating revision period. 

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

Having had so many experiences which I was able to reflect on from my volunteering, sports societies and Medic Mentor participation as well as work experience made it very challenging to identify the best examples to include.  I found it most difficult to cut the statement to the required length whilst keeping good content.  This was an area that the scholars on Summer School were able to help me with as they could identify the experiences that demonstrated a skill or quality well. 

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

The pressure placed on the UCAT exam was the element that I struggled with most.  This was my first exposure to a formal exam (having not sat my GCSEs due to COVID) and with only one chance to achieve a high score in that application cycle, there was added stress.  Being able to ask scholars for advice and attend Zoom calls which focused on difficult questions meant that I had done as much preparation as possible.  I knew that there wasn’t any more I could have done and this gave me confidence in the exam. 

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

Preparing for interviews was an exciting period in the application cycle; I enjoyed reflecting on experiences that would make me a better doctor.  Having mock interviews with Medic Mentor scholars and attending in-person Medic Mentor interview weekends improved my confidence.  I found Medic Mentor’s support during this time really valuable and having feedback from doctors was reassuring but also allowed me to improve my interview performance.  

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

I found it most challenging to prepare for my A Levels when I hadn’t received any offers to study Medicine as it was really difficult to remain motivated.  However, it was important that I adopted the mindset that I had to achieve the best grades in order to strengthen my application for clearing or a future cycle.  Looking after myself (taking breaks and maintaining hobbies) enabled me to remain balanced during the exam period and I feel this contributed to my good performance.

Why did you choose to apply for the scholarship programme?

I wanted to apply for the scholarship programme for two reasons: the first was the opportunity to help younger students through the application process.  I feel very well placed to offer advice on many of the challenges that applicants may face during the cycle and the scholarship programme has given me the opportunity to do this.  The second reason was the support that Medic Mentor can continue to offer me throughout my medical education.  The teaching days have supported me in ways that my medical school curriculum is not able to cover.  The programme has also been a brilliant opportunity to meet other medical students from across the country and continue to make friendships with future colleagues. 

How have you found being a medical student?

I’ve loved being a medical student! It’s everything I could have hoped for and more!  Of course, it has been difficult at times.  The course is very intense and juggling this alongside the pressures of living alone for the first time can be challenging.  However, you will find that you will build a network of support around you and your friendships will become very strong.   

Do you have any advice for Parents?

Believe in them!  Applying for Medicine can sometimes seem like an impossible feat; having someone backing you is the boost that your self-esteem needs at times.  The support parents can offer cannot be underestimated.

Do you have any advice for teachers?

Help your students prepare early and ensure they are aware of key deadlines.  It would also be massively beneficial for your students if you provided them with mock interviews.  Suggest to students that they form study groups to prepare for the admissions tests together; fostering a sense of community will enable your students to share questions or interview experiences that can help their peers. 

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