Click to have read of the answers to all the questions submitted so far…

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Do you feel as though you aren’t getting a ‘usual’ uni experience studying medicine? I.e. can you still go out, exercise and maintain good mental health? I’m so interested in medicine and desperately want to be a doctor but I don’t want it to control every aspect of my life. Yes, you absolutely can go out, do exercise and do other stuff. Medicine definitely isn’t all-consuming and you can easily make time to do other things and keep up with other interests, in fact, you have to make sure you have things outside of Medicine too in order to maintain your wellbeing and that’s something which is highly encouraged in medical school. The course structure you choose will also have an impact on how much “free time” you have to do other things and immerse yourself in uni life, so for example, Manchester has a PBL/integrated structure so you do have lots of free time during the week, if however, you went for a more traditional course you might find you’re in lectures 9-5 every day of the week and have less spare time. You said “usual uni experience” and I suppose that can be defined in different ways. As medics we do get involved in societies, sports and do extra things like that, but because Manchester is a really big medical school, we have a lot of our own societies and a lot of medics tend to get involved with medical societies, the MedSoc’s sports societies etc, but you can easily get involved in other university-wide societies and a lot of people do. Generally, as you progress through the course you will get busier, but Medicine can only control your life as much as you let it.

What are your feelings in the run up to progress? I don’t have a lot of feelings regarding the progress test as I know I still won’t be able to answer the vast majority of the questions. It’s just one of those tests that has to be done and you’re not really going to be flourishing in it when you’ve only completed half of the degree. Regardless, I think it’ll be interesting to see my progress now though after doing some clinical Medicine and see whether I’m able to give the questions more of an attempt than I was able to in years 1 and 2.

I have 5 weeks till my Manchester Interview, I have started preparing a bit already but I was wondering how long should I spend in a day/week preparing without affecting my A-levels too much? This is difficult and you really do need to find a balance that feels right to you. Interview preparation should be something you try and work on daily so one way to go about it would be to set yourself a number of hours for interview preparation each day and after you’ve done that spend the rest of the day on A-levels. You may even find that you have to put your A-levels on a bit of a hold, or work on them a little less until your interviews are over. It all depends on how much more interview preparation you think you’ll require in order to feel confident going in.

Are extra-curriculars important (aside from work experience, courses and volunteering)? Do I need to play an instrument or play a sport competitively or go to after school/lunchtime clubs?Extra-curricular are important as you need to be able to show you have other interests outside of Medicine to show you have a good work-life balance. These extra-curricular activities don’t have a specification and are not limited to having to be a sport or an instrument, instead, they can be anything that you enjoy doing. All they are are your own personal hobbies and interests whether it’s reading, playing rugby, competitive knitting – whatever you enjoy spending your free time doing that’s fine.

When applying to their university, I got sent a form asking me why I want to study medicine at their university and I don’t really know what to write. I wrote things like they help patients to develop personally and grow and provide extra support but I am not sure if I should write something to do with their medical faculties and their research
You need to mention that you feel their course type is suited to you, so for example, if the university you’ve applied to uses PBL you’ll have to say that you enjoy working in groups and like the fact that you’ll be able to learn independently using their course. Resources and facilities they have are also great things to mention, have a look at the main selling points for that med school (they’ll tend to be things they say at open days) and those aspects may be reasons why you want to go there. Do they use full body dissection? Or maybe they use prosections and you think that’s the most effective way to learn? Do they have an emphasis of developing a portfolio and do you think that’s a positive thing? Do they offer research opportunities for their med students and is that something you want to get involved in? Try talking to medical students at that particular med school and truly understand how you’ll be taught there as you’ll need to show evidence that you understand this and know it will suit you. You might also have certain societies/extracurricular activities that you’re interested in and the university provides. Just ask yourself what appealed to you about this particular university for you to apply there and write that down…

I have the predicted grades AAB and I don’t think I can convince my teacher to change it. Should I still apply?
Absolutely still apply! Not all universities look at predicted grades and some that do allow a drop in a grade in your predictions (so like your AAB). If your teacher doesn’t change your predictions, just make sure you look in to it properly for different unis and apply to places where you won’t be disadvantaged properly by your predictions.

How much work experience do I need for medicine?
With work experience it’s quality over quantity. There’s not a set amount you need. Instead focus on getting enough experience so you feel as though you’ve got a realistic insight in to Medicine and you’re able to reflect on the roles of a doctor, skills required in medicine and also understand some of the challenges.

I am thinking about applying to Medicine at Manchester. I’ve got a quick question, would they ever accept someone with a grade lower than the standard AAA? For example if you have AAB predicted?
They won’t look at your application if you are predicted below AAA.

I am a first year medical student and I want to ask about the PBL session. For the learning agenda questions, to what extent/level of depth do you research about the case?
I use the lectures and the resources that are made available to us as a guide to how much detail is needed. At this stage you should be thinking about grasping the anatomy and physiology of things. Specific names of compounds and things like that are not generally so important. In terms of conditions, I’d say keep your focus on symptoms and causes, and treatments only very briefly. Working out the depth of knowledge that’s required is honestly a trial and error thing – try and use your closing PBL sessions to gage whether you chose the right level.

What differentiated medical schools that were in similar locations (e.g London area)?
I applied to med schools in 4 different cities, so I didn’t really have a problem differentiating between all the London universities or anything like that. But I think the main things you can use to help you differentiate is the type of course, whether you stand a good chance based on their entrance criteria and as just how you feel at the university (some will just feel right and some you just won’t like, go with your gut!)

Click on the question to read my answer…

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Posted by:Life of a Medic

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