Finding the “flare”: A medical applicants guide.

Medical interviewers look for that elusive “flare” in medical sciences. But how can you make sure that your unconditional love for medicine gets across in the interview?

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Medical interviewers look for that elusive “flare” in medical sciences. But how can you make sure that your unconditional love for medicine gets across in the interview?

The most frustrating aspect of a medical application is the part you seemingly can’t control.  You can swot for the admissions test, refine your interview techniques and write a stunning personal statement through hard graft. Unfortunately a key part of what medical tutors are often looking for (especially at Oxbridge) is a so-called “flare” in medicine/science. Many think this “flare” is something that you either have or haven’t got and really couldn’t be forcefully nurtured over a lifetime let alone the university admissions period!
However, this blog gives you some clues as to how you may be able to unleash this mysterious inner flare that you know you’re harbouring and convince the interviewers that you are deeply and madly in love with medicine.

Step 1:
You need to actually have a passion for medicine. May seem obvious but medicine is a very tough career and you’ve got to love it or else you won’t survive. If you’re very passionate about medicine and the science that underpins it then make sure you let that come across really clearly. For example, smile excitedly in the interview when something interesting crops up and make sure there’s lots of passion in your voice when talking about your favourite disease or whatever.  The interview room is not a place to be shy about your interests.

Step 2:
Read! If you’re genuinely interested in medicine then you should love reading around it. This is very much easier said than done however with restrictions on access to many journals. Keeping abreast with topical healthcare problems is what most medical schools want, and Oxbridge may like to see that you’ve researched a particular of area of biology beyond A level (Actually, Wikipedia is often great for that sort of thing- but check sources!).

Step 3:
Make sure you practise speaking articulately about the topics that interest you. Join your school’s debating society (or set one up!), discuss it with friends & family, challenge your biology teacher regarding a point you don’t quite understand or would like to know more about! Try and practise structuring your arguments nicely in your head so that it’s not just coming out all jumbled up. This will show that you have previously thought nice and carefully about the topic in hand. Because you’ve got loads of flare, obviously.

Step 4:
If you’ve got a bit of time before the interview then do something that shows your love and devotion to medicine. Set up a mini medical journal at your school where people can submit pieces on interesting aspects of science. Go and grill Professors giving public lectures at local universities. Success in medicine is all about motivation and hunger, and you should show that you’ve been very proactive in quenching your thirst for medicine thus far.

Step 5:
To an extent, you either have good analytical skills or not. But testing yourself by reading about and really thinking through complex biological problems will stand you in good stead for the interview.

Good luck!

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