June 28, 2019 | Kitty Chow
Obviously, it is crucial for students to have medical experiences (as discussed in part 1 of the article here). However, it is also important for students to have additional experiences that further strengthen their applications, even if the activity’s relevancy to medicine is not as apparent. In this article, I will discuss these activities so that the students can consider these if applicable.
Volunteering is a key aspect of medical application and in part one of this article, I focussed on mainly medically related volunteering. However, volunteering in the community can be extremely useful in your application even if they are not in a clinical setting. For instance, since we are now dealing with an ageing population globally given the advancement in medical technology, regular volunteering at an elderly home is a great way to gain exposure in working with senior citizens of the community so you can understand the issues that they face on a daily basis (i.e. from the patients’ point of view).
Similarly, one can argue that volunteering work involving children is a great way for students to appreciate the importance of effective communication as one has to modify their language when talking to adults and children accordingly.
Extra-curricular activities are also something that admission tutors look for when assessing a student’s suitability to medicine. Regardless of the degrees that you are applying for, it is always good to have evidence showcasing leadership as well as team playing qualities.
If you have any leadership roles in any capacities, whether it is being the representative for your year group or the team leader for a science project, make sure to mention them in your statement, explain what you did and reflect on what it has taught you. Examples of being a team member include participating in team sports, working on a group project, etc.
Note that the most important part is not necessarily the activity itself, but rather what the student has learnt from it and what key qualities of the student that it demonstrates (making the student a strong candidate for medicine).
I have seen many personal statements where students simply stated what they did but failed to reflect on what they have learnt from it – think about characteristics of a good doctor (good communication skills, patience, logical analysis…) and see how the experiences showcase that.
Some students might have personal experiences or reasons for applying to medicine, such as having witnessed how doctors look after a sick family member or having gone through an illness personally. Don’t be afraid to mention them in your personal statement: consider using them as a potential starting point to explain your initial interest in the medical field as it will make your application unique. Further expand on what you have done since to deepen your understanding of the field which ultimately contributes to your final decision to pursue medicine.
These are my suggestions on additional experiences that will maximise your chances at medical schools. Remember that the most important thing is not necessarily what you did, but rather what you have learnt from it and relate that back to medicine. Best of luck on your application to medicine!
Educated at Badminton School, Kitty obtained a First Class Honours degree in Biomedical Engineering, followed by a MSc degree specialising in Medical Physics, both from Imperial College. Kitty has experience teaching students subjects such as Maths, Sciences, as well as educating young children Programming. As the former Departmental Representative of her degree, she also understands university admissions and is well placed to assist with school and university applications. Kitty has decided to make career change and is currently a Medical student at the University of Queensland in Australia. Therefore, she is well placed to provide advice on medical applications and compare education systems in the UK and Australia.
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