Friday, 31 August 2012

First Week of Final Year - Eeeeek!

First Week of Final Year - Eeeeek!
End of August 2012:

Well, I've officially made it to final year, how scary is that?! I'm living in hospital accommodation for the next 8 weeks but actually on my 4 week GP placement first of all which is about 10 miles away from my hospital accommodation. Living in hospital accomodation is proving to be quite an odd experience so far, I'm in a flat of 4 which is quite plush in that it has two showers, one with a loo in the bathroom plus a separate toilet as well. It also has double beds! Luxury! But on the downside its exceedingly quiet - am yet to meet one of the four health professionals I am living with (only one of these is another student) and have seen one of the others only very briefly, no internet there yet either! How will my social life survive ;D (it will probably actually be good for my academic life as long as it doesn't continue too long, no facebook!)

Its quite weird being able to literally see the hospital from my window, I don't think I'd like living here on a permanent basis whilst working in the hospital very much, it would seems quite clautrophobic and I expect it would feel like you never really got to escape from your working life. Even now it feels a bit of a continual reminder that I should be working and that finals are starting to loom...

As once described in scrubs: The hospital can be a monster that takes over your life, I could see this being doubly the case if you lived in hospital accomadation permanently!

Starting on GP in someways this feels a bit like a lack of progression from fourth year which had quite a few GP visits but in other ways it is really quite different. For one thing I have my very own shiny consulting room which is literally mine and mine only to use for the next 4 weeks which is pretty exciting! I've been told I can decorate with pictures, bring a radio in... etc. Unfortunately not sure my "suicide bunnies" poster is quite appriopriate so I've decided to keep it plain and professional! So far I've only used it a few times to see patients before they see the doctor but hopefully I should use it more and more as time goes on.

Another change for this year is that as I am there for a solid 4 weeks rather than just the odd afternoon I am already starting to feel like more of a team member rather than occasional visitor which is really nice :)

Thats all for now - going to try and keep posts shorter and sweeter otherwise I have no hope of managing to post reasonably regulary whilst keeping up with final year, which already I am finding ever so slightly stressful...

Halfadoc xx

Saturday, 18 August 2012

How to apply to medical school without losing your mind

Hi guys, sorry I've fallen off the blogsphere a bit, its been a busy few months full of finishing fourth year and the fun of exams*  combined with summer fun such as volunteering as a games maker at the olympics and earning my last pennies from my part time job before I quit it in order to dedicate my time to giving myself and my wonderful lack of medical knowledge the best chance of scrapping through finals in about 9 months times (eeek eeekk eeeeek!!! This absolutely terrifies me!!)

The good news is I'm all passed on fourth year and so now do hold the terrifying title of Final year medical student.A week and a bit till I start back :o.  Start taking your vitamin tablets cause its looking like I could actually pull off this medical student business **! 

But anyway: Blogging.  I'll catch you up on some of my latest medical exploits soon, but I figured its that time of year when AS students have all got their results and are working on their applications... Well I always intended this blog to be something that would help current applicants but it has occurred to be that I've not really shared that much of my "wisdom" about the application  process, so without further adieu:

General advice

Personal statement – concentrate  more on what you gained from a few key pieces of work experience/ volunteer work than just listing all the things you have done.  Spend time working on your opening line, you want to get their attention and make your personal statement stand out.

Interview – Best advice is to be enthusiastic and to be yourself.  Read a good newspaper on the day of your interview and the few days leading up to it (often  there are questions on current medical issues).  Re read your personal statement –look for bits where you may not have expanded much as these may be the areas the interviewers ask you more about.  Think about what you might want to say for some key questions eg “Why medicine” and “How do you deal with stress” but don’t script answers too much because it will sound fake.
Look on forums before your interview – some people put up what they got asked at recent interviews at particular med schools and the questions often don’t change much.

What if you don’t get in? This is in my opinion my most important bit of advice: Gap year and reapply!! Lots of gap year students get in esp if you do something useful with your time on your gap year that you can talk about at interview.   Get feedback from unis that rejected you so you can improve next time.
Phone, fax and email medical schools on results day – some medical place do very occasionally come up at clearing! A girl in my year got into keele despite not having applied there originally because she both phoned and emailed them her results + personal statement on results day and they offered her an interview – have heard of this happening to a few people at keele. 
 Seriously, the grad route is always a possibility but as you have to pay your own tuition fees for second degree (so thats £9000 upfront, no loan, per a year) this really should be your plan C not plan B, gap year gap year gap year!! 

Current medical student blogs e.g. obviously :p, but seriously theres some very interesting reads on the blogroll at the right of my main page (by Leeds WAMS, but lots of general advice and example interview questions) (a forum for medical applicants and current medical students) and/or then just go to the medicine pages.
Tomorrow’s doctors document: - this is apparently what medical schools want you to be like but I've got to admit its a bit wishy-washy and I only ever skim read it, whoopsy.

Bedside Stories: Confessions of a Junior Doctor (Paperback)
Michael Foxton
In Stitches: The Highs and Lows of Life as an AandE Doctor (Paperback)
Nick Edwards
Trust Me, I'm a (Junior) Doctor (Paperback)   (and all other Max pemberton books, all good reads!)
Max Pemberton

So none of this is by any means exhaustive, but I hope it helps a little.  Any of questions about applying that you have, please feel free to comment below and I will try and get back to you :).  Also I forgot to mention, how do you apply without losing your mind?? Well, I'm afraid I never discovered that one but I hope you enjoy the compulsion to constantly check your UCAS for changes more than I did ;) 

Halfadoc x

*Mainly a very annoying GP exam which combined genuine medical knowledge with rote learning/reciting type aspects about things such as the "WONCA tree" - google it if your interested but I don't advise bothering, for starters theres absolutely no connection to any chocolate factory ;D
** Don't take too many, that's just as bad.