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How to manage stress during a medicine application

Advice & Insight From UCAT Specialists

Whether a school student, university student or a doctor, sharing the fact that you are feeling stressed is neither something to be ashamed of nor a sign of weakness. It is no secret that navigating the career is physically and intellectually demanding and because of this there are several support systems that can help you. As part of the medicine application process there is a huge amount to do – getting shadowing experience, volunteering, writing a personal statement, sitting admissions tests, attending interviews, and staying on track with your academic studies. Alongside this it is often easy to forget that what you are navigating is likely to all feel very new and uncertain.

Try to make each task feel manageable

It is useful to remember that admissions stresses are temporary and manageable. Many students who have successfully made it into medical school state that the application was the hardest part of their career journey so far. With so much to juggle it is perfectly normal at times to consider ending your pursuit of the career, due to the entry requirements. It is important to take time to reflect on whether you will be suited to the demanding nature of the career. Remember to tackle one part of the application at a time. In order to be organised and move ahead with preparations, read through the Medical School Councils info sheets for applicants to medicine. This official website breaks down the application into several sections providing easy to understand guidance and advice, comparison tools and videos.

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Utilise supporting resources and be strategic

Being strategic in the application process and utilising the resources available to you will both boost your chances of acceptance and reduce the amount of stress you experience during this time. Many of the medical school application services may be commercialised or unavailable to you. Where possible take advantage of any opportunities that can support your application. Many tutoring courses and programmes will allow you to speak to current medical students, getting tips and tricks to ease the application process. Using online networking, personal contacts or your schools’ alumni can help you gather contacts of successful applicants. It can be reassuring to have input and reassurance from someone who knows about the process. There are lots of official and free guides and application tools available online – remember to ask in your school.

Ask for help

It can be useful to get support from others and it shows great strength to admit that you may need support managing the pressure. Suppressing how you feel will be extremely unhelpful, and may hold you back during the application process. There are several sources of support available:

  • Yourself – It is important to be kind to yourself, acknowledging and validating your own emotions. The NHS website has useful information about how to support yourself through stress but prioritising sleep, self-care, your diet, and time to exercise and relax are integral.
  • Other applicants – In recent years the number of medicine applicants has continued to rise with 23,710 applicants last year. Many other medical applicants in your year are likely to be highly driven, naturally intelligent, and competitive. However, viewing your peers as competition rather than supporting one another will not benefit anyone. Utilise each other’s experience to help each other out, sharing resources and advice that you are using. It may be worth considering setting up a medical society or club at school. This is a perfect opportunity to share experiences. Describing how you used your initiative to create a medical group at school will be impressive in your personal statement and at interview. There are several interpersonal skills which you can develop through this and reference.
  • Family – Many parents experience the challenges of a medical application hand in hand with their child. The application process can create uncertainty for all involved, especially parents who are trying to protect their children. Your parents may not be doctors or graduates themselves, but they can fairly claim qualified wisdom through life experience. Try to be open with your parents, listening to their advice. Remember you will be the one studying and going to work every day so the motivation to study medicine must come from you.
  • Teachers and careers – Your careers advisors and teachers are there to provide encouragement and support throughout the application process. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a teacher even if they aren’t in a specific career based role.
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How to manage stress during a medicine application

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