How Can I Stand Out As A Graduate-Entry Medicine Applicant?

What areas of your application help you stand out as a graduate applicant? And what are some of the most commonly asked interview questions?

June 2021
Carolina Williams (Blogger)
UCL - 2nd Year

How can I stand out as a graduate-entry Medicine applicant?

Firstly, congratulations for realising that a career in Medicine is for you and for entering the graduate-entry Medicine application process. Believe in yourself, you will be great.

Medicine and graduate-entry Medicine are competitive courses, however, please do not let this demoralise you. It goes without saying that if you are passionate and motivated to study Medicine, you should persevere to achieve your goals! I hope this article can reassure you that it is totally possible to boost your application and highlight all the amazing things YOU have to offer.

Using my experience, I would like to emphasise a few points that I found helpful for my graduate-entry Medicine application. I am a graduate Medicine student studying an undergraduate Medicine course, so will speak from my experience and research. I am also lucky to have a great group of graduate Medicine peers and we have discussed our application experiences together therefore I have learned a little about others’ application experiences also. I hope you can find this information useful; importantly I would like to remind you that you know yourself, your strengths and areas of improvement best, and you are unique!

Where can I stand out as a graduate-entry Medicine applicant?

The areas of your application that are most valuable in enabling you to show your skills and motivation to study Medicine as a graduate-entry applicant include the following (note – not listed in a particular order):

  1. Personal statement – this is YOURS and about YOU. So, I would say to focus on your motivations, your strengths and what you learned from your past. Discussing the experiences that you have undergone, including details about your undergraduate degree, and importantly what you have learned from these experiences, was particularly advised to me as a graduate applicant.
  2. Admission interviews possibly the most important and influential area in which you can stand out. The classic interview tips such as being yourself, polite, friendly, confident, but also humble, all apply. As a graduate applicant, details about your past and undergraduate degree are likely to come up (see below). So, I think a good idea would be to ensure you know some points you would like to bring up about how and what you learned during this time and the strong and unique areas of your application.
  3. BMAT essay – for universities using the BMAT entry exam. The BMAT essay can be an area where you can use essay writing skills, examples, experiences etc. that you gained and learned during your undergraduate degree. (Remember to make some notes about what you wrote about in your BMAT essay so you may refresh your memory prior to interviews where they may discuss it with you).
  4. Your degree classification – a conditional or unconditional offer following an interview by the medical school. From my knowledge, most conditional offers tend to be based on a 2:1 degree classification or above (see link below).
  5. Work experience/internships/extracurricular activities – as when applying to undergraduate Medicine, these factors are important. As a graduate applicant, because you will have undergone a degree and are a little older, there is more scope to show how you have spent your time! Your commitment and suitability to Medicine can be shown, particularly when these activities are clinical or Medicine related, through the wide range of skills you have gained.

I understand these may be obvious and also feature in an undergraduate Medicine application, however, they are extremely important to bear in mind.

What are some common interview questions for graduate-entry Medicine applicants?

What did I learn from my undergraduate degree?

As a graduate-entry Medicine applicant, the biggest difference (and perhaps one of the only major differences) compared to undergraduate applicants is that you will have an undergraduate degree. Therefore, it makes sense that I was frequently asked about my undergraduate degree during my Medicine interviews and was encouraged by my career advisors to ask myself this question whilst writing my personal statement. Some of these questions included – what had I learned during my undergraduate degree? What about the course (if anything) encouraged my choice to study Medicine? Why study Medicine and why study Medicine now?

I believe that your answers to these questions can help you to differentiate yourself from others. Every graduate-entry applicant will have a unique history and in terms of their undergraduate degree – studying different subjects, with different specialities, at different universities – and their other personal experiences which demonstrate their motivation to study Medicine.

My advice would be to try to consider your individuality and include this to sell yourself. Discuss what YOUR degree has taught you and how this could apply to Medicine. Think about the aspects of your undergraduate degree that stimulated an interest in Medicine – were specific modules relevant? Have you undergone an internship(s)? Has your final year project been influential? Have you undergone (relevant) work experience during this time?

For example, I studied Biomedical Sciences, specialising in Reproductive Biology. I am particularly interested in obstetrics and underwent an internship at a fertility clinic, subsequently, I focussed my final year project and dissertation on preterm birth. I was fortunate as this enabled me to gain clinical insight, and this motivated my desire to study Medicine further. I made sure to put forward such points in my personal statement and at interviews.

Why Medicine and why Medicine now?

A common question from both yourself and from those interviewing you could be why study Medicine and why study Medicine now? A common question for all Medicine applicants could be “Why would you like to study Medicine?” and for graduate applicants, it could also be “Why would you like to study Medicine now?”. This is a great opportunity to show why and how you have persevered or come to the realisation about Medicine as a career path for you. Try to avoid focussing on the fact that you didn’t study Medicine as an undergraduate (as this shouldn’t be a factor that weakens your application!), but instead focus on your dedication and motivations to the subject, as these are important.

Nevertheless, it may still be useful to consider your answer to “why Medicine now?”, as the answer to this question can help to demonstrate your commitment, determination, and suitability to study Medicine. Whether or not you applied to Medicine initially as an undergraduate, you can discuss the particular factors on your journey to your graduate Medicine application; these points could strengthen your application. For example, perhaps you preferred to be 100% certain that Medicine was for you and therefore did not initially apply to the course as an undergraduate in sixth form. However, since, you may have undergone extensive experience and research, and understand now that you are ready, and that Medicine is completely appropriate for you. Alternatively, you may have never fully considered Medicine as an option for you, however, during your undergraduate degree, you may have been exposed to clinical content and settings, stimulating your interest and motivations to find out more, and you subsequently applied for Medicine. Additionally, you may have applied for Medicine in sixth form but decided to persevere with your non-Medicine undergraduate degree in order to gain experience and strengthen your skillset prior to your graduate application.

Discuss your experience…

Work experience is important. I found that work experience particularly helped me to gain insight into a career in Medicine and to understand a realistic day in the life of a doctor. A graduate student may have been fortunate enough to undergo clinical-based experience as part of their degree, internships and, similar to undergraduate applicants, in clinical settings and volunteering programmes. I would encourage you to try to reach out and obtain as much experience as you can and from a range of clinical environments if possible. It may be useful for your application, but also is generally interesting and helps to improve your knowledge and awareness of healthcare overall.

Perhaps you could reach out to the careers services at your university to see if they may be able to provide advice? (In my experience they were also helpful in informing me about the graduate Medicine application process as a whole). Also, you could use term breaks from university to set up some shadowing in clinical settings as it is likely that during term time it may be more difficult to sacrifice as much time (especially when you are balancing your degree studies and Medicine application!). It is also useful to remember that any work experience can be valuable: whether it is for a day or two, or several weeks.

Medical schools can differ in their work experience entry requirements, and this can also vary depending on whether you are applying to an undergraduate Medicine course (like myself) or a graduate Medicine course. Graduate courses may expect, or favour, applicants that will have undergone a certain amount of work experience in clinical settings, however, this may not always be the case and the details for requirements may differ between medical schools.

For more information on graduate-entry Medicine courses work experience (and also other) requirements check out:

https://www.medschools.ac.uk/studying-medicine/making-an-application/entry-requirements?type=graduate-entry-medicine

Final Remarks

I hope this article can provide some useful advice and help to reassure you. I would like to wish you the best of luck with your application and showcasing your talents and strengths. Remember to try your best, remain positive and believe in yourself. You have a unique set of qualities to bring; know yourself and highlight them where you can. Good luck!

Author: Carolina Williams (Guest Blogger)

Editor: Allegra Wisking

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