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Graduate-Entry Interview Series #2: Which factors during your undergraduate degree helped to consolidate your wish to study Medicine?

Some of our tips on how to approach this frequently asked graduate-entry interview question.

February 2022
Carolina Williams
UCL - 2nd Year

For the second post of our graduate-entry Medicine interview series (find the first post here!), we will be focussing on the question ‘Which factors during your undergraduate degree helped to consolidate your wish to study Medicine?’.

Which factors during your undergraduate degree helped to consolidate your wish to study Medicine?

This is arguably one of the most distinguishable questions from those undergraduates are asked as it specifically asks you to reflect on your graduate degree. This question allows you to highlight your uniqueness as a candidate. I have written this article from a personal experience point of view and hope that it can inspire and stimulate your thinking as well as reassure you during the preparation stage of your Medicine interviews.

Graduate candidates will have studied a range of different undergraduate degrees, in different locations and with variations in their studies. Undergraduate degrees may be science-based, for example Biomedical Sciences, a speciality within Biomedical Sciences (such as Anatomy, Pharmacology, Physiology etc.), Biological Sciences or Chemistry, or non-science based, for example, Law, Languages or Mathematics. Therefore, different individuals will have gained different knowledge and set of skills. Remember that you will have undergone a personalised journey up until your Medicine application and interview (even if you studied the same course as another applicant or studied at the same university!), so this can be a chance to interest the interviewers as they learn more about you, what you learned and gained from your undergraduate degree and how these contribute to your suitability to study Medicine.

‘Which “factors” during your undergraduate degree’… Note this question may be asked in a variety of ways. For example, ‘factors’ may be replaced with ‘studies’, ‘modules’, ‘activities’, ‘events’, etc. However, exploring the entire range of factors that helped you to realise and/or motivate your desire to study Medicine when you are preparing for interviews is useful.

What ‘factors’ could you discuss?

There is a huge range of factors that you could discuss! During your degree, you will have studied for a number of years prior to entering medical studies, therefore there are likely many factors you could mention. Of course, it is important to be selective, choosing your favourite and most relevant examples, as there will not be enough time to talk about ALL of the reasons and events that contribute to your desire to study Medicine. Therefore, I would encourage you to have a think about specific times during your undergraduate degree which stimulated or affirmed your motivations to study Medicine and why this is an appropriate career choice. Choose the examples that are most important and specific to YOU; by doing this your genuine interest will be clear to the interviewers and it will also enable you to demonstrate some of your personal qualities.

It is also useful to note that if the question asks about factors ‘DURING’ your undergraduate degree, you may decide to bring in examples both specific to studying your degree but also activities you participated in during your degree, but not necessarily related to the degree. For example, discussing self-organised work experience placements in clinical settings. Seeking other opportunities that educate you about a career in Medicine or allow you to develop relevant skills shows that you are proactive and further strengthens your determination to study Medicine.

Some potential ideas you may discuss in terms of ‘factors’ during your undergraduate degree…

How to structure your answer?

There are many ways in which you may like to approach structuring the answer to this question and the choice is totally up to you. I have provided a loose structure that I hope can help you to think about the factors you may wish to talk about and how to put these into a coherent, concise interview answer.

  1. Introduction to the answer. Like an opening sentence or couple of sentences to provide a brief overview into your route to Medicine from your undergraduate degree (such as when you realised that you’d like to study Medicine).
  2. Bring in the factors. Discuss how and why the most important and relevant events, activities, content that you engaged with during your degree that contributed to your desire to study Medicine.
  3. Further research and education into Medicine. What did you do in relation/following these factors to further educate yourself about a medical career and to ensure that Medicine is the route for you?
  4. How you feel now and your personality. Could you discuss your strengths and some transferable skills (maybe ones that you consolidated during your undergraduate degree) that are also appropriate to develop as a medical student and doctor? Have you also recognised which skills that you would like to further improve upon as a medical student/doctor?

Some example answers in note form…

I have fabricated these examples and I hope that these notes can help to stimulate your thinking about which factors during YOUR journey towards studying medicine helped to motivate you and provide you with ideas about how you may like to structure your answer to this question.

I hope that this article has helped to reassure you and helped you realise that you have a choice of factors to discuss. You are a unique candidate and answering a question such as this can allow you to give an insight into your personal journey prior to applying to Medicine to the interviewers. Stay calm and positive and best of luck.

Author: Carolina Williams

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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