The Application: UKCAT Tips

So I have done the UKCAT twice now, and the second time was much better than the first. I have come up with a few basic tips and rules that I followed which could be helpful to someone else doing it!

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1) Use time wisely – If you find you’re not getting anywhere, skip and come back to it. Make sure you divide your time equally among the questions and don’t overrun unless you have time at the end.

2) If you cannot come up with an answer, guess – there is no negative marking, so a wrong answer is better than none.

3)  When practising for the absract, read the answer and apply it to the question. Then you’ll have a foundation of rules and themes to build on when you do thetest for real. This really helped me.

4) In the ones with masses of text, don’t bother reading the whole text. Skim it, and get a feel for it (informational or prose, topic etc) and then look for the answer to the question. Don’t waste time reading it in depth.

5) When you get time between each set of questions, take it. Have a pause for a moment and get into the mind set ready for the next set of questions, and forget those stubborn ones you couldn’t find the answer to in the last round.

The Application: BrightMed

Just finished the BrightMed Course at BSMS which was amazing. I really loved it there. Got to do a dissection which was amazing (put me off lamb though) and also went through my personal statement so far, which I feel is starting to look quite good!

We learned some basic anatomy and also blood pressure, heart exams and reflex tests which will be useful I am sure! I totally lost my voice through-out the entire thing so I am hoping that this will help me stand out when they read my application – Oh you remember her lost her voice…. amazing girl.. unconditional offer… etc 😀 We’ll see.

Tip:

Go on as many of these courses as you can. This was free, but if you can saved up and go on more, then do. But be careful, some are useless. BrightMed = amazing, check forums and see what other people think of the course you want to do.

The Application: Personal Statement

Writing a personal statement is harder than it seems! What do you include and what do you leave out?

I have talked a LOT about my work experience and tried to include what I learned from the experiences but that doesn’t leave much room for much else! It’s the bit I am most proud of at the moment so I guess I’ll just stick with it.

It’s a bit cheesy but I’ll leave it here to perhaps inspire someone who is stuck!

As a mature student, I took the time to find a career that would challenge me. I sought academic rigour in an interpersonal environment with a foundation in science. At 16 I left education for two years due to financial constraints, but during this time I focussed on what career I really wanted to pursue and gained valuable life experiences. My fascination with the complexities of the human body grew when I joined a team setting up a new clinic called the Musculoskeletal Clinical Assessment Service (MSK) on behalf of West Sussex Primary Care Trust. The project gave me insightful experience of working in a specialist orthopaedic team and my passion for human anatomy and biology was reinforced with the variety of cases presented. It was here that I decided my return to college would be to strive for medicine.

Working for the MSK developed essential communication and teamwork skills. As a small group, we relied on each other to ensure a smooth progression of each referral from GP, potentially to trauma and orthopaedics at any Sussex hospital. This complicated process relied on the communication between the team across three sites spanning a large and varied demographic area. My role demanded an extended medical vocabulary and the ability to interact with a diverse range of people. This was useful when working in reception of an Accident and Emergency department and my first patient could not speak English! With the careful use of basic sign language and diagrams, the problem was established, the patient reassured and the correct medical care provided. This ability to find simple solutions to presenting problems is an advantage in the emergency department.

Within accident and emergency, the demand for efficient prioritisation is vital, especially with the constant flow of different and often difficult cases ranging in severity. It was here that my skills for prioritising flourished, managing patients, phone calls and maintaining hygiene. I learned how to take a detailed yet concise history of the patient’s condition, key in the triage process and in ensuring the right level of care is provided at the right pace. The variety and complexity of the cases, dealing with both patients and staff and the pace of work was an environment in which I flourished and enjoyed. To widen my experiences of the hospital surroundings, I have undertaken roles in the Radiology and Medical Records department, fulfilling a range of clerical roles. In the last year I have volunteered on wards and soon a children’s hospice.

Recently, I took part in MedEx at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. This gave me the unique opportunity to sample the medicine course and participate in a human dissection session. I also took the opportunity to learn clinical skills, including taking blood pressure, historys, and heart exams. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and it has helped develop my sense of what lies ahead in the path to medicine. Learning clinical skills and being able to partake in a dissection has reinforced my choice to study medicine fervently.

I have lived independent both physically and financially from my family home for three years, successfully maintaining a self supported lifestyle whilst juggling college, volunteering, and an active social life. To unwind I enjoy exercise, participating in holistic classes at my gym, and also making and selling various craft items such as handmade cards and jewellery. Running an independent lifestyle has its own demands, including managing an often tight budget and maintaining a household. Overcoming these challenges has developed me personally, giving me an increased level of maturity and self-determination. Medicine has already become a large part my life and I will not stop until I get there.

The Application: Choosing a medical school…

Looking into medical schools is complicated! Do you go by entry grades? Then highest or lowest? PBL, SBL? Prosection or dissection? Intergrated? Intercalated?? It’s a bit of a head mush. So far I’ve discovered the following:

PBLProblem based learning – Focuses on independent study, and looks at  medical scenarios and all the medicine around it.

SBLSystems based learning – Focuses on body systems – cardiac system, digestion system etc.

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Dissection – Actual exploration of a cadaver
Prosection – Anatomical parts provided without full dissection

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Integrated – There is experience in hospitals and with patients from the start of the course unlike some courses where it is purely lectures until your final years

Intercalated – After year 3 you can take a year out to do the final year of another (science related) degree to get an additional degree.

So, my choices in order are:

Brighton & Sussex Medical School – Integrated, dissection, SBL, Intercalculated

Southampton – Integrated, prosection, SBL, Intercalated

St. George’s  – Integrated, dissection, SBL, Intercalculated

Penninsula – Integrated, prosection, PBL, Intercalculated

(Integration is very important to me and I like the idea of dissection. I want to be able to have the chance to intercalate, and I would prefer SBL but TBL works too!)

Work Experience for my Medical School Application

Along with my volunteering, I have finally got into the swing of my new job and feel like I am actually able to do it! I’m working in A&E at Worthing Hospital, only on reception, but it’s pretty awesome. I get to talk to patients and take histories which is fun, especially when patients divulge a little more than necessary (e.g. Injured gentleman standing with woman:

Me:   “Who is your next of kin”
Him: “Er I suppose my wife”
Me: “And what is your name?” *looks at woman*
Him: “Oh no she isn’t my wife… you’re not going to tell my wife are you?”)

But anyway! A&E is a great place to get a feel for front line healthcare. It’s great to begin to recognise the symptoms of a break as opposed to a sprain, and a heart attack as opposed to indigestion!

I have got to know the doctors and nurses a lot here and gained a great insight to the mechanics of the team in A&E as well which I am hoping will be helpful in some sort of interview or my personal statement (which I should start thinking about I suppose!)

Volunteering for my Medical School Application

My college is offering volunteer work at Worthing Hospital which I have taken up for the past few weeks! It’s 3 hours a week and I am working on pre-op colorectal ward which is interesting! If I am honest, it smells awful and is very warm but the work is good. I hate talking to the patients and, although I will have to get over in order to be a doctor, at the moment I have nothing to talk to them about. Either way I am helping out and getting to know life on a ward.

The doctors play a very interesting role and don’t seem to be around much. It’s the nursing staff who seem to be doing the caring as such, and the doctors are just there giving direction. I do wonder if this is just the nature of the ward however, as most patients are intended for surgery.

I have a few friends who volunteer with me whom I recognise from college so it has been great to get to know them and see what direction we’re all thinking of going in though it seems they have both been put off of hospitals through the volunteering which is interesting.

Student Volunteer Tips:

Just talk to people. Ask what the nurses are doing. Ask how the patients are feeling today (although they do tend to get a little confused when you say you are not a doctor).

Help out doing things that wouldn’t be done. Straighten out the leaflets, ask patients if they want anything from the shop.

Answer phones. This gets you involved in the loop and you find you start to be more useful when you can go pick up TTO’s (drugs) without being asked to do it.