How To Build Your Portfolio For A Successful Medicine Application
Advice & Insight From Medicine Application Specialists
Don’t give up your hobbies
First of all, it is vital that you don’t just drop your hobbies and interests as soon as you decide that you want to study Medicine. Not everything on your portfolio has to be about healthcare! In fact, any experience is valuable if it has taught you relevant skills and you have reflected on it thoroughly. So, if you have been part of drama club for 5 years, think about it has shaped your team-working and interpersonal skills: which challenges have you had to face and what has that taught you about yourself? These are all likely to be interview questions.
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A crucial part of your application is your understanding of what being a doctor entails – and it will be tested from your personal statement to your interview. To have an idea of what working in the healthcare world is like, you might want to arrange some shadowing at a local surgery or at the closest hospital; you’ll often be asked to help out with simple tasks. This can be a first step towards your decision process of becoming a doctor, too! Some students decide to go abroad (often during a gap year) to explore healthcare in a different country. These are often very valuable experiences but can be very expensive: it is important to remember that they are not mandatory. Many universities, however, will expect you (if not require you) to have some kind of work experience in your portfolio! It is crucial that you don’t just passively shadow a surgeon: you need to reflect on what you’ve learnt, the skills that you saw in action, the challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
Ultimately, medicine is about helping people. Having volunteering experience on your CV can be very valuable. Make sure you choose ethical options; again, you can choose to go abroad or join a local charity. Do something you enjoy and that you are passionate about: it will shine through when you discuss it! There are many skills that you can learn from volunteering experience: make sure you reflect on how your empathy has developed and how you will be a different doctor because of it.
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Leadership and team-work
Starting from day one of medical school, you will probably be asked to collaborate in a team, and this is likely to be the case until the end of your career in healthcare. It is crucially important that you show that your communication and interpersonal skills are appropriate! If you were captain of a team, project manager of a magazine or something similar, talk about your leadership skills: try to be critical of yourself, and explore what you could have done better to push you team to do their best.
Prizes and awards
Your CV is about showing excellence and motivation! If you have received any prizes or you were selected for competitions, make sure to showcase it appropriately throughout your application process.
Reading and Science
Is there a book that inspired you to become a doctor? Do you keep up with medical news with a magazine? Have you discovered your passion for research by reading Nature every day? Through answering questions like these with examples, you can show that you have embarked on a journey that has led you to your current (complete) understanding of what a healthcare career looks like. Remember: talking about how much you love helping people is great and shows great empathy, but make sure you don’t forget the scientific part of Medicine as well. What fascinates you about the biology of the human body or the pharmacology of saving lives?
I hope these tips helped you. Don’t forget that academic performance is also incredibly important in a medical application, and you should always focus on the qualifications you are working towards; your results need to be outstanding to be considered for a medical course.
Good luck building your portfolio!