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UCAT is over! Congratulations on getting through the marathon that it is. While you can relax a little, now is not the time to be sitting back (sadly). Now is the time to start planning for applications and interviews! Here are some tips:
Someone once told me that if you’re not volunteering you’re not making med. I’m not sure if that’s true but a quick canvas of my year group indicates that it might be. Volunteering is interview and application gold; I almost guarantee at some point you’re going to say some variation of “I want to help people” and if you’re not able to back that up with some real action it might seem a little fake. Remember, you don’t have to be in medical school to be helping people, and if you really wanted to help people you’d already be doing it. So if you’re not already volunteering, now is the time to start! There are lots of fantastic organisations out there – what’s available will depend on your area. Some places you can look include Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), aged care facilities, community centres, refugee organisations, and Aboriginal Medical Services.
If all you do is study and sleep your applications and interviews will be deadly boring. Hobbies are difficult, especially when all you’ve cared about lately is your UCAT score and ATAR/GPA, but medical schools love well rounded people with more going on in their lives than just medicine! That means that now is the time to pick up whatever hobby you put down. Hobbies can be sports, crafts, musical endeavours, or anything else really - it doesn’t have to be big!
We’ll talk more about this in some future blogs but knowing your medical schools is critical to applying there. Most universities have a focus (e.g. rural health, Aboriginal and Indigenous health, research, medical education). Now is the time to find out what that is by spending some time poking around their website and taking some notes. This will help you answer the inevitable question “Why do you want to study here?”. It will also help you choose your volunteering opportunities, for example if your number one choice medical school has a rural health focus, why not volunteer at an NGO working with people living in rural areas?
Before UCAT, chances are your other study slipped a little (that’s okay, you were busy!) but now you need to pick it back up and work hard! You’re in the home stretch after all!
No one likes it when I tell them to do this but it’s so important. The truth is most applicants don’t get into medicine and even if you’re an amazing applicant you can’t control what happens on interview day any more than you could control what happened on UCAT day. So work out your plan B and make it a plan B you can really look forward to! Having a plan B that you actually like will remove just a little of the pressure and when you’re asked about it in interviews will make you seem more well-rounded. No medical school wants someone whose whole life pins on getting in. For school leavers, plan B could look like a gap year where you work and travel or going into another health or science based degree. For people mid-degree it might be finishing or continuing their current degree. For graduates it might be working for a year. The most important thing is that you like your plan B, you’ll be volunteering, and you’ll be applying for medicine again next year!