Updated: Jun 10, 2020
By Emma Davison
I didn’t have an epiphany and have not always wanted to become a doctor, however through a combination of a natural drive to care and be compassionate, along with experience working with those less fortunate, I now have a clear goal regarding my future career.’ This was exactly how I started my personal statement when applying for medical school. You often read people’s personal statements and see them quoting life changing experiences which led them to studying medicine, and whilst these can be true for some, for the vast majority of us, we come to the conclusion of medicine through lots of research and work experience.
It all began in the final year of GCSEs when my school careers advisor was asking what we wanted to do in the future, in order to decide on our A-Level choices. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that medicine was a strong contender before this point, and have always had an interest in the career but never really considered it achievable. I don’t have any medics in the family and so all my conclusions about the career had to be judged on my individual research; up to this point, it had mostly consisted of watching Casualty and Grey’s Anatomy - not the best research resources!
As I started to evaluate the career, I realised that it was something that really interested me. I began exploring ways to undertake work experience and further my skills in order to build up a strong application. I have always loved being busy, and so fitting everything in made the experience more fun; I loved the stress of a busy life. In my first year of A-Levels, I began working at a fish and chip shop part time, as well as trying to complete Grade 8 on two instruments.
Alongside this, I was balancing school work, volunteering at a care home and managing a social life. It was a lot! However it made writing my personal statement so much easier as I found I had evidence for lots of different skill sets important for being a doctor.
Preparing for the UCAT certainly wasn’t the easiest part of the application process. I spent a solid 4 weeks, working around 5/6 hours a day. Looking back, this definitely wasn’t necessary and was a little overkill, but I was so worried about failing. If I had failed, I would have had to wait an entire year and this terrified me. Through the preparation process, I completed so many past questions and this I found to be the key, particularly with abstract reasoning. Throughout my time preparing for the UCAT, decision making had been my strongest and abstract reasoning was my weakest. However, after completing the exam I found that I had achieved 870 in the abstract reasoning - I attribute this success to being able to do as many past questions as possible, as you begin to recognise the patterns.
Once I had prepared and sat the UCAT, alongside writing my personal statement, I began to evaluate where I wanted to study! I began with HYMS (Hull York Medical School) as it was local, before exploring the different teaching styles and deciding to apply to Nottingham and Leicester too. For my 4th medical school option, I decided I wanted to apply strategically based on my UCAT scores. I had managed to get a score of 2940 (in the 96th percentile, meaning I was in the top 4%) so was feeling positive in this respect, but had only managed a band 3 for my situational judgement. Taking this into consideration, I applied to Newcastle as they didn't look to harshly at your banding but automatically gave offers based on high UCAT scores - I was basically guaranteed an interview, so this seemed like an obvious choice.
The wait was excruciating, but after the long period of time, I received an interview offer from HYMS - at this point, it was my favourite of the Uni’s I had applied too. Soon after, I received a rejection from Nottingham which didn’t worry me too much as that had been 3rd or 4th on my list. Next came two interview offers from Newcastle and Leicester. And so the interview prep began.
By the time my HYMS interview came, I was so nervous, not helped by it being my first choice and my favourite! I felt the interview went well, and the day after my HYMS interview, I had my Leicester interview which I thought hadn’t gone so well! I then had about a month’s wait until my Newcastle interview. I admit that my interview prep slipped a little over Christmas and I didn’t really practice much in the lead up. Additionally, I was least worried for my Newcastle interview as I didn’t really want to go! I hadn’t been to any of their open days and didn’t really know the city.
But that all changed when I got to the interview! I felt that I performed well, and the interviewers were so nice, especially in comparison to my other interviews! I loved the city and the campus was beautiful! Newcastle became my favourite after just 1 day exploring the campus and city.
A week later, I gained my first offer; it was from Newcastle, and I burst into tears. The relief I felt was unreal and I was ecstatic. Up until this point, I truly believed that I was inferior to other candidates, who seemed to know more about the NHS than me and had more clinical experience. I honestly feel that allowing my personality to show through, enabled me to gain this offer. About two weeks later, I got the dreaded emails from UCAS alerting me to an update in my application. I logged on and saw a rejection from HYMS. Within five minutes, however, I also got an offer from Leicester. I didn’t really need to grieve about my HYMS offer, as I had just secured 2 offers; I couldn’t believe it!
As the weeks passed, I pondered over my decision; Leicester VS Newcastle. My offers had the same grades for both, AAA, so it was just personal preference that determined which I would pick. After agonising over the decision for weeks, I finally firmed Newcastle and insured Leicester. My 5th option had been an accelerated medical sciences degree, which I had an offer for, but bad interview organisation put me off this university and the course completely.
Then exams got cancelled, and so we are here! With no exams, I have lost the ability to prove to myself that I am worthy of the grades I will hopefully achieve. The fate is no longer in my hands, but is now in the hands of my teachers! Fingers crossed that come September, I will be embarking on the journey of medical school, having secured my A-Level results, but I guess only time will tell!
So there it is, my story of applying to medicine - hopefully the start of an amazing and rewarding career!
Follow @study_doctor on instagram and check out Emma's website studydr.co.uk ;)