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It really is remarkable how many people want to study medicine. This is both good and bad news for you. The bad part is how small most medical cohorts are, which makes medical entry extremely competitive. Don’t let this weigh on your mind too much though, because you simply need to accept that there will be people with a better chance of getting in than you and people with a worse chance of getting in than you. The only aspect of this process under your control is how you prepare.
Luckily the good news outweighs the bad, in my mind at least. The good news is this twofold. Firstly, there are thousands of students in the same boat as you, so you are not alone in your struggle. You can always reach out and chat. If you would be happy to do it, why wouldn’t they be happy to do the same? Secondly, the vast majority of medicine hopefuls are not taking advantage of quality UCAT medical interview courses. An easy way to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other students is to be smarter about your UCAT and medical entry preparation: be organised, choose the right UCAT preparation provider, and ensure you allocate sufficient time to prepare.
Don’t get bogged down with all the UCAT preparation and forget about the other aspects of medical entry. Your academics will probably be extremely important depending on which universities you are applying to, and there are often extras such as medical interviews and medical written applications. All universities across Australia rank the importances of these criteria slightly differently so it is crucial that you learn their preferences and priorities, and act accordingly.
To maximise the efficiency of your time, consider UCAT preparation, medical interview coaching and the many other resources available to you. Avoid the assumption that medical entry is simply the UCAT. You should be putting appropriate amounts of time into preparing for your medical interviews and the various applications you need to submit. By the end of the year, you may be submitting applications and sitting interviews for more than five different universities! So it is important to get on top of these skills early, just as you are doing for the UCAT.
All through my final year of schooling, I would hear people saying how easy medical interviews would be. They complained about the vast amounts of work they were doing for academia and UCAT preparation but barely anyone was preparing for medical interviews. Because why would you study for the medical interview right, you are just supposed to be yourself? WRONG. It’s not false that you should be yourself in an interview, but the premise that you cannot or should not improve at ‘being’ yourself is false.
The truth is, in the medical interview you are not ‘being’ yourself. You are ‘presenting’ yourself. And you absolutely can improve the way you present yourself. Just as you can improve from UCAT courses and UCAT coaching, there are numerous resources available to learn the art of the medical interview, like MedEntry’s Medical Interview Training Sessions.
Furthermore, different universities have different types of interviews. Some have the typical panel style interview, while others have the MMI (Multiple Mini Interview) style interview and there are even some with a mix of the two! When you’re applying for multiple universities you will inevitably need to prepare for a mix. It is crucial that you do the necessary research and find out what types of interview formats you will need to learn and practice, and what types of questions you will be asked. Fortunately, quality medical interview tuition courses will cover the whole range of interview types. Medical interview preparation will also help you significantly in the future, even if it is not directly applicable to the university or universities that you are applying to.
The education system seems to suggest that having superior academic intelligence is the most important part of being a good doctor. People believe that if you are a textbook genius you will make the best doctor. Let me be the first (of many) to tell you that this is not the case.
Good doctors are multilayered people who have more than textbooks in their lives. They are empathic, they have extraordinary communication skills and they are passionate about helping people. Doctors are not robots, which is a key part of the UCAT Situational Judgement section. The UCAT Situational Judgement test looks for people with social intelligence and a reasoned, empathic nature. REMEMBER: this section of the UCAT is marked separately to the others because it is evaluating different skills.
To help give you personal breadth in your journey to becoming a doctor, try to get some work experience. It is an excellent opportunity to talk to real life physicians and people working in the medical field. It will open your eyes to what is truly important in that workspace and hopefully it will reinforce why you want to become a doctor. You can also do some volunteer work to get a similar reminder of the true meaning of this vocation: helping people and giving back to the community. All the while you’ll also be preparing for the UCAT Situational Judgement Test, and helping with your medical interviews and written applications.
This is another one of those comments that everyone tells you and it can get more annoying each time. So, take it from someone who is in medicine and knows numerous people who didn’t get in first time, but took different routes. Undergraduate entry is not the only path into medicine and if you seriously want to pursue this field, you will find a way.
So while you should certainly be trying your hardest, if it’s what you want to do, keep it in perspective. It is not the end of the world if it does not work out this year and you will always be able to find a way in if you are dedicated.
Good luck on your medical entry journey!
Jeremy achieved 98th percentile in UCAT and is now studying medicine.