We already know what medical schools want from candidates:
- Ability to reflect
- Raw academic ability
How can you convince the medical schools that you have these attributes?
What you must not do is simply tell them that you fit the bill. It is your job to demonstrate this in your interview and your personal statement.
Here is an example of a bad and unconvincing statement
“During my time at the hospital, I saw how busy the doctors were and how even they could not meet all the needs of patients. I learnt a lot from this”
A well engaged person on their work experience placement should try hard to find time to discuss what they see with doctors, patients and others and reflect on it. A good piece of writing about this might be
“During my time in the hospital I was struck by how busy the doctors were and by the fact that even they could not meet the needs of all of the patients. Thinking about this afterwards, and talking to the doctors about it, I realised that this is an intrinsic part of a career in medicine and that it will take me time to adjust to the realities of medical life. Surprisingly to me, the patients were well aware that the staff were very busy and that they sometimes had to wait for other more urgent needs to be met first. Reflecting on this, I realised that, although the system is not perfect, it certainly works best when the doctors and patients and other staff have a good understanding of each other and everybody recognises the importance of prioritising some situations over others.”
One very important point about this is that the hard work is done in organising your work placement and attending every day or every week for a period of time. This takes hours, days and weeks of your time. It is easy to fail to make the most of this in your interview or personal statement but also easy, with the correct advice, to make a great deal of it and demonstrate that you have the capabilities that the medical schools are looking for.
You should always remember to think about and reflect on what you’d have seen and heard, discuss it with doctors, nurses, patients and others and take the positives to make the most out of the situation for yourself, and most importantly the patients you are helping. This is important for everyone, from prospective medical students through junior doctors to higher trainees and experienced consultants. If you can develop these skills now, they will stay with you for ever and be of great benefit throughout your entire medical career.