So we’ve all heard that medicine is really hard to get into. Is it easier for graduates?
Long Answer: This is an interesting topic and I suppose this depends on the university, but one might consider that it could just be harder.
Short Answer: No.
Every year over 10,000 graduates apply to medical school via the graduate entry route and the calibre of applicants is always going to be high. So given that all applicants will at least meet the minimum entrance requirements required from the universities they apply to how are you meant to stand out from the crowd?
I’ve been there myself so I know of the trials and tribulations you will be putting yourself through by taking this route. However, I’ve come out the other side and I’m here to tell my tale and give you some key pieces of advice! If you are thinking of applying to Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM), continue reading to find out seven ways you can stand out from the crowd when applying to graduate entry medicine.
1. Do your research
Research experience is valued in the field of medicine at every stage of training and it is not something every medical student or doctor actively pursues – perfect ground for you stand out!. If you are at all interested in medical research, showing a passion for this early on and mentioning this on your personal statement can go a little way to making your application stand out. However, don’t just say it – prove it. Get involved in any active research at your university and have a look at any summer opportunities at either your own current university or elsewhere. After all, actions speak louder than words.
During your first degree, if you had the opportunity to complete a dissertation or to contribute to research this should also be mentioned. However, quite a lot of applicants will have this, so in order to stand out from other graduates having a paper published in a peer-reviewed journal or having conducted an audit will make you a competitive candidate.
If you are yet to complete your dissertation or have recently completed one, do not be afraid to approach supervisor to find out if there is an opportunity to publish any of your research findings and become a named author. Don’t be shy! If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Research experience and publications can look incredibly impressive on your CV and will not only help you with getting into medical school but will always be a useful addition to your portfolio to assist with getting junior doctor posts in the UK.
2. Ace the tests: admissions tests
Most universities will require admission tests when it comes to applying to medical school. Of course, scoring highly on them will make you stand out to your University of choice. To make this just a little more complicated, each university requires different admissions tests with the main ones for graduates being either the UKCAT, GAMSAT or BMAT. Thankfully for you, we have taken the time to draw up a complete table with the required admissions test for each university – take a look below! Make sure you set aside time to practice/study for these exams to ensure you get the best score possible. Further to this, here at theMSAG, we are on hand to guide you through these tricky processes. If you need help with the UKCAT, have a look at our online UKCAT course, our blog series on the UKCAT and our upcoming video series which guides you through each part of the test. And of course, if you have any concerns or queries, don’t hesitate to get in contact with theMSAG.
3. All-round excellence
“It is important to study hard during your first degree and to get the grades required to meet the entrance requirements.” – Every Mum
So what advice can we give you that mother dearest may not know about? Well, it is also important to make the most of your university experience and manage your time efficiently. When writing your personal statement do not neglect to mention any sports clubs or societies you joined at university. Having an active role in the committee of your favorite society/sports club will also help you to stand out and give you ample opportunity to demonstrate your time management and communication skills, as well as showing the admissions team how you may contribute to their medical school if accepted. The more interesting and unique your hobby or sport, the further it goes to helping you stand out so don’t be afraid to mention anything you do in your spare time – from flame throwing to scuba-diving, it may just help you get into medical school!
4. The first degree
Each GEM course has different requirements regarding which first degrees they will accept. Have another look at the table above to see their requirements! As you can see, some universities consider all degrees and others only consider specific science degrees. Despite this, a large majority of applicants will usually have a degree in Biomedical Science or related degrees such as Biochemistry. If you do have a degree in something different e.g. French, Engineering or Accounting there is no doubt your application will stand out in this respect but make sure you’re applying to the right place. For instance, Oxford would accept an Engineering degree but Birmingham may not.
Also, having a masters or a PhD is also seen as favorable to some universities and can help you stand out. For more information about which GEM courses you may be eligible for, have a look at our guidebook, which discusses this topic in great details.
5. Be Creative with your work experience
Work experience can often be difficult for some students to obtain, however, if possible use any contacts you have gained during university to obtain unique and interesting opportunities. If you are finding it difficult to get work experience to have a look at our recent blog post by Roxanne Sutthakorn on ‘How to get onto a work experience placement’.
Shadowing doctors and other healthcare professionals and volunteer work is invaluable, however, if you have already done this in the past it could pay to think outside of the box. This is especially relevant for applicants applying a few years after graduating who have had full-time jobs. Those who have worked in the NHS or in other healthcare professions such as physiotherapy, nursing, paramedics etc. have a unique insight into the healthcare system and dealing with patients which should be mentioned on your application.
Work experience does not always have to involve patient contact and if you have had experience working in an area of quality improvement, research, journal editing, healthcare commissioning etc. this is all relevant interesting work experience that is different from the usual hospital shadowing. Be sure to include anything different and interesting to make you stand out.
Did you win a prize at any stage of your undergraduate degree? Perhaps you achieved the highest mark in an exam or came top of your year? These are all amazing achievements that not many applicants will be able to say they have and so defiantly worth mentioning in your personal statement in order to help you stand out.
Have you ever attended a specialist or undergraduate conference? Have you ever presented your research in the form of a poster or an oral presentation at a national conference? If you have been sure to mention this when applying for university as these are things that are impressive at any level of training from medical school to consultancy. If you have already done these things before medical school you will be ahead of most of your peers and it will really make your application stand out.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our seven ways to stand out when applying for graduate entry medicine. Remember, this is not a checklist of things you have to do in order to get into GEM but a list of ideas/tips on how you can stand out when applying. When I was applying, I found that these points were pretty important to consider. Always check the entry requirements for each university you apply for and ensure you meet them before applying. Don’t forget that theMSAG are with you every step of the way, so if you have any questions, let us know and we’ll happy to be your guide.