5 things you can do to strengthen your medical school application and be a cut above the rest.
With applications to medical school becoming more and more competitive, it’s important to do everything you can to make your application strong.
We’re all guilty of signing up to things just so that we can put it on our applications. At my sixth form, there was a phase during the year where teachers would use the line ‘…and it’ll look great on your UCAS application’ for just about anything they wanted us to do!
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is work experience and/or volunteering of some sort.
Ideally, you want some experience in a hospital and/or GP setting. However, this can be quite difficult to find, especially hospital-based experience.
On the other hand, volunteering, for example at a nursing/care home, a homeless shelter or a children’s/special needs centre is far easier to organise and can be done regularly over a longer period of time showing commitment. Look out for suitable places in your local area and on your local council website.
But apart from work experience and volunteering, there’s a whole bunch of additional things you can do to further boost your application and potentially provide great topics of discussion for interviews (and of course, these will be rewarding for you too and allow you to develop and improve important skills!)
So here are my top 5 ideas to boost your medical school application:
1. Start up a medical ethics discussion club
It can be as simple as a handful of friends getting together once a fortnight at lunch to discuss an interesting topic. You can alternate who runs the session and keep it interactive. Start small and you may even find others interested in attending!
Topics that might facilitate interesting discussions could range from fertility treatment to barriers to organ donation. And of course, look out for current issues in the news that you could discuss.
As well as being something interesting for your application, you’ll find yourself more knowledgeable on potential interview topics and better able to think on the spot.
Student discussion society.
2. Start a journal club
Again, it doesn’t have to be on a large-scale. Take it in turns to present a paper going through the main findings and critically evaluating how the study was carried out.
Choose papers from journals that are easier to understand such as the Student BMJ. Being able to read and critique studies is a great skill to start to familiarise yourself with.
Probably one of the most enjoyable activities to get involved in during the stresses of sixth form! Charities such as Wings of Hope even run specific student projects where you can get involved in fundraising competitions.
Students fundraising for Action Against Hunger.
4. Start up a mentor/buddy scheme
Get students in your year to sign up, then pair yourselves up with younger students at your school. At my school, two sixth formers were assigned to each Year 8 form who we would spend half an hour with each week.
5. Cambridge master classes
These are subject-specific taster classes run by the university that you can attend to give you a flavour of your course or just attend if there’s any topic that looks interesting.
Students due to attend a Cambridge Master Class.
This top 5 list is clearly not exhaustive and it’s just about seeing what you can get involved with.
Remember that you’re not just doing it for your UCAS application! Such activities will definitely be useful in terms of the skills you develop (and maybe even a bit of fun!).