What activities and extracurriculars do I need to do to get into medicine?
Advice & Insight From Medicine Application Specialists
Medical school places are highly competitive. Successful medical applicants need more than just excellent grades and admission test scores to secure their places. Admissions tutors are looking for students who have engaged in activities to develop their interpersonal-skills and the variety of attributes required by doctors. As part of your personal statement and interview you will need to provide evidence showing your suitability to study on this degree. Additionally, medicine focused work experience placements, activities and reading can help inform your decision to study medicine. It can be challenging to know which activities to take part in and mention in your application. Many students hope to make their application stand out, which is difficult when most other students have done similar things. So, remember, it is not what you’ve done, but what you’ve learnt from it.
Hobbies and Interests
Engaging with extracurricular activities helps you to show that you are a rounded individual. Explaining how you have a range of hobbies shows that you can strike a good work life balance. This is very important in medical school to avoid burn out. It is useful to engage in activities which are both individual and solitary and group-based activities. Being part of a group gives you a sense of community and allows you to develop relationships with others. As part of a group there is much more of a responsibility to be dependable and committed. Consider what hobbies or activities you enjoy that you can do alone and at any time of day. You can often turn to these hobbies in periods of high stress, regardless of the time, location, and access to resources etc. Whether it is writing, art, listening to music and podcasts, crafts, puzzling, reading meditating all these activities have countless mental and physical benefits when you fully immerse yourself into them. By researching facilities and opportunities available at your prospective university you can mention at interview how you will pursue your hobbies at university. Most universities have student union websites which list the variety of societies on offer, you may even consider setting up a new society during your studies.
Whatever activity you have engaged with it is likely that there are interpersonal skills that are transferable to medicine that you have developed. The Medical Schools Council have released a document outlining the skills and attributes needed by doctors. Consider how you have developed these by engaging with your hobbies.
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Aim to show that you have knowledge and commitment to a career in medicine. Most people utilise work experience as an opportunity to learn more about the career. However, consider attending lectures for prospective students and conferences organised within the medical community. During your work experience you will be able to talk and ask questions to medical professionals. Aim to not only speak to doctors but other members of the healthcare multidisciplinary team such as nurses, HCAs and Occupational Therapists. These conversations may inform your answer for the commonly asked interview question “why medicine and not another healthcare profession.” You may decide to learn a new skill which will complete your knowledge when starting medicine, so consider signing up for a first aid course.
Medicine involves lifelong learning, so it is important to engage in super-curricular activities. Super-curricular activities are activities that allow you to exercise your curiosity academically beyond what you are taught in school. There are several online courses which are free and easily accessible such as MOOC’s and future learn courses. Reading is a great way to show an interest in the career and science. There is no given medicine applicant reading list out there. The student BMJ was created specifically to cater for prospective medical students and many books give honest accounts about the career. It is impressive if students can show that they have acted reflectively and been motivated by medical experiences. Focus your activities and reading around something you have developed a curiosity about based on a personal experience. Other activities you can do to boost your application include competing in academic or essay competitions and publishing articles for student- led magazines.
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Doctors are expected to be confident and competent leaders. To show your leadership skills, try to volunteer or apply for roles of responsibility where you are in charge of a team. Many students choose to set up or grow their school Medical Society. Not only does this show initiative and leadership skills but gives you the opportunity to grow your research and presentation skills as you share your passion to study medicine with others.
So, it doesn’t matter if you have a niche, favourite hobby or simply like music – use your passions to strengthen the quality of your application. Almost all activities can show certain skills and provide learning opportunities. You don’t need to go signing up for every new activity out there; instead use your time to reflect on what you are already doing.