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HOW TO HELP YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER GET INTO MEDICINE

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Is your son or daughter interested in becoming a doctor? Do you want to give them the best chance to succeed? Dr Edward Boyapati discusses how you, as a parent, can assist your child to achieve their goal. 

Dr Edward Boyapati is the Principal Lecturer for MedEntry, Australia’s trusted UCAT Educational Institution. He is also the father of two incredibly successful children, Ray and Ann. Both obtained 100th percentile in UCAT, were offered places to study medicine at all universities across Australia, won full scholarships to study medicine, were successful in entering highly competitive specialties (Gastroenterology and Dermatology) and achieved the highest results Australia-wide in their final Fellowship examinations, among many other accolades. Dr Boyapati shares with you how he helped his children achieve their success. 

Medicine is an incredibly rewarding, secure, well remunerated and respected profession in Australia. Hence it is also the hardest course to get into. Thankfully there are ways you can provide valuable assistance to your child to ensure their success. 

1. Understand the importance of UCAT and interviews

Unlike most other courses, entry into medicine is based on much more than just a high ATAR. In fact, even those with a perfect ATAR can miss out on a place in medicine. Universities also consider UCAT score and interview performance, and at many universities, these two criteria are weighted more than ATAR! Yet many students neglect UCAT and interviews, and focus their efforts on ATAR, only to find that they do not obtain a place in medicine. 

The first step is to recognise the importance of UCAT and interviews, communicate this to your son or daughter, and then work out a plan to ensure adequate preparation time is allocated to these crucial criteria. 

2. Encourage your son/daughter to start preparing early

UCAT is very different from school exams and is not a knowledge-based test. It is a test of generic skills over five subtests. It takes a total of two hours, and is highly time-pressured so that most students will not finish every question. Most practicing doctors would agree that it is the hardest single test they ever sat in their career. It is therefore important to start preparing early, as the skills required to succeed need to be developed over time. 

It is also important to think about interviews. Interviews tend to take place after final year 12 exams, so it is tempting to ignore them until later in the year. However, interview skills also need to be developed and practiced over a period of time. Furthermore, medical schools look very favourably upon work experience, volunteer work and paid work, in a General Practice or community health based setting. Your son or daughter should therefore be encouraged to engage in these activities before interviews take place. 

3. Avoid missing important deadlines

UCAT only takes place once per year (during July), and applications to study medicine at various universities close before year 12 exams take place. It is therefore important to be organised so that important deadlines are not missed. You can help your son or daughter by researching these requirements for them. 

It is strongly suggested that students who are interested in studying medicine apply to all universities, including those interstate. Interviews are by their nature subjective, and therefore entry into one particular university cannot be guaranteed. If your son or daughter obtains entry into a medical course that is not in your state, there are various options available such as transfer after first year, deferring and attempting re-entry into a local course etc.

An example timeline for a student in year 12 is shown below (note that exact dates will vary depending on the particular year and university): 

March Registrations open for UCAT
May Closing date to register for UCAT
July Sit UCAT, get results the same day
September UCAT percentiles released
Late September Deadline for applying to universities and state based academic authorities (eg. VTAC, UAC)
From October Interview offers released
From November Interviews conducted
January University offers released

 

It is advised that you create your own specific timeline relevant to your son or daughter and record important dates in your calendar. 

4. Provide encouragement and support

Year 12 is a stressful time. Add in UCAT and the pressures of getting into medicine and stress levels can rapidly sky rocket. Significant stress can impair performance and lead to burn out. It is therefore important that your son or daughter feels encouraged and supported, especially when important exams such as UCAT are near. Ensure that they are eating well, sleeping well, exercising and engaging in appropriate stress management strategies. Make yourself available to listen to them when they feel stressed or overwhelmed. Do what you can to lighten their load – for example, read through relevant UCAT information, redistribute chores to younger siblings, create a quiet working environment and drive them to important exams. Your actions can have a significant positive impact on their wellbeing and performance. 

5. Choose a trusted preparation provider

There are many UCAT preparation companies available, and unfortunately many of them offer poor quality or outdated materials but make outlandish claims. Some are run by medical students. It is vital to choose a provider who is trusted among doctors, teachers and those successful in entering medicine, and which has a proven track record of success. 

If you would like further information, please visit www.medentry.edu.au where you can find a free UCAT practice exam, information about entry into medicine, blogs about UCAT and much more. You can also phone 1300 MEDENTRY and speak to a member of the friendly team. We recommend you start with watching the Free Bootcamp available under 'Free Resources'.

Helping your son or daughter get into medicine is an invaluable gift to give, and one which will secure their success and happiness in years to come. 

 

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