What to do in the Summer Holidays for Students Applying to Medicine?
Applying to Medical School · Jan 16, 2019 Miss Giulia Bankov
Giulia is a graduate medical student at the University of Glasgow. She previously studied Neuroscience at King's College London and completed her Cognitive Neurobiology and Clinical Neurophysiology degree at the University of Amsterdam
So you have already decided that you want to study medicine and are aware of the hard work you need to put into making your application stand out? You might want to make the best out of your summer holidays in order to strengthen your candidacy, but you don’t know how exactly? Fear not, as we at theMSAG are here to help you best prepare for applying to medicine during your summer holiday.
Why is this important
Let’s take a step back for a second - you might be wondering why is it important that you spend your free time thinking about medicine and your application when you’ve been studying all year long and just want to take a break from everything. In fact, you absolutely should ensure that you take some time to relax and switch off for a while, as you’ll need the energy to tackle the challenge that is med school application.
But what’s more, showing that you have done something productive with your summer holidays shows your commitment and dedication to your chosen career path.
This will differentiate you from other candidates who may be unsure of what they want to do, who are not exactly passionate about medicine or who may just have not put a lot of thought into it. On the other hand, anything that you might have done during the summer, be it a summer job, work experience, even travelling, could strengthen your application, if you are able to show how the experience enriched you and helped you develop qualities necessary for a good doctor.
When it comes to explaining this in your personal statement and/or interview, your ability to critically assess your experiences is as important, if not more, as your actual experiences. You need to be able to show that you understand the expectations the medical school, the profession and the general public have of you as both a medical student and a future healthcare professional and be able to portray through personal experience how you fit into those expectations.
As the academic years in sixth form are long and challenging, with everybody focused on earning good grades and scoring highly on exams, the summer holidays are a particularly good moment to take up extracurriculars that help make your application unique and intriguing to assessors.
What can you do
It is important to stress that there is no magical recipe to what you should be doing with your summer holidays and any experience you may have can be enriching and can boost your application, so long as you are thoughtful and understand how it may have made you a better candidate. We have discussed below several common things as a guide of what you could be doing, but feel free to use your imagination and think outside of the box if you want to incorporate other plans, too.
Find shadowing/volunteering/work experience opportunities
It is very common for medical school applicants to already have some work experience in healthcare that they can talk about during their interview. This is a good way to show that you have an understanding of what the field entails, the expectations and responsibilities of the different healthcare professionals and the qualities required for success on the job.
Such an experience can come in many forms - maybe you can contact a doctor in a hospital that would allow you to shadow him for a week or two, or perhaps you can volunteer at a local care home on the weekends. There is no one answer to what constitutes a good work experience and the possibilities are endless. The important thing is to show that you have made an effort to communicate with various healthcare professionals, have shown interest in the field and can discuss your experiences when asked about them.
Work on your personal statement
No list of tips to prepare for applying to medical school would be complete without discussing the personal statement. As one of the major components that medical schools look at when evaluating your application, it is important that you start thinking about it early and maybe even create some drafts already. Application deadlines approach you fast once you enter your final year of school, and with everything else piling up as well, you might find yourself in a panic that you still haven’t finished writing it. Starting thinking about it in the summer and deciding on what you want to focus on in it can really help you take a load off your shoulder and check one (extremely important) thing off the list.
Pick up on your reading
You have aced your entrance exams and written a brilliant personal statement, which have brought you to an interview. While that is fantastic, that’s only half the battle. Medical schools are interested to see your understanding of the medical profession as well as how well you’d fit into it. While work experience is surely one way to advocate that, having background knowledge from reading relevant books and being up to date with news from the medical world can go a long way to prove that you are educated on important topics that might come up at your interview.
Make sure you have read up on current topics that concern the NHS and that you have a stand on important questions regarding our healthcare. Also, don’t forget that the healthcare service may operate slightly differently across the UK, so you want to make sure that your information is accurate depending on whether you are interviewing for medical schools in England and Wales, or in Scotland.
theMSAG summer school
If you are still looking for unique opportunities to enrich your portfolio and do something exciting and productive this summer, we are proud to announce that our summer school is now open and here to give you a unique perspective on a career in medicine, boost your application and help you with any insecurities or concerns you might still have about applying.
This is a two-week course, in which you will get hands-on experience in different medical specialties, practice taking patient history as well as various clinical skills taught by qualified medical professionals. You will also get personal statement and interview consultations, as well as a complete admissions exam course. The course is residential and will take place in South Oxfordshire, just an hour’s drive from London and will provide full accommodation.