Tag Archives: Medicine

Southampton Interview

Some of my most frequently asked questions about interviews.

How do they decide who to interview?

For BM6:
If you meet all the criteria, they will review your PS and rate it on the non-academic entry requirements.

Non-academic entry requirements In addition to academic entry requirements, you will be assessed against our non academic criteria.Applicants must be able to show they:

  • Are self-motivated and resilient
  • Have reflected on and learnt from life experiences (this may include, work experience, paid employment and personal experiences both in and outside health and socialcare settings)
  • Can communicate effectively
  • Are able to interact successfully with others
  • Can demonstrate an understanding of the values of the NHS constitution

For BM4 and BM5:

If you meet all the criteria, they interview in order of highest UKCAT.
When are interviews?
BM6:  6th of March and 13th of March 2017. Check on the website if this is out of date next year.

BM5 and 4: Various dates. Check the website.
When will I hear?
You will get 2 weeks notice.

How will I hear?
The uni send out invites via email.

How many interviews will there be?
120 for BM6.

Someone has an interview but I haven’t heard yet, what does that mean?
Nothing at all. They decide who is getting one and everyone in that lucky list will get one eventually.

How should I prepare for interview?
Read your personal statement.
Read it.
No seriously, read it.

Read the news starting now. Read BBC News Health section if you don’t buy a paper regularly. Check NHS Behind the Headlines to get the real understanding.

THIS is how I prepared and is a good place to start. And then here is what happened at my interview.

DO NOT search out people to tell you what you will be asked. It will not help. You’ll be too rehearsed or you simply won’t be asked those questions and wont be prepared for that whey do ask. No 2 interviews are the same.

Where can I practice?
Your college should offer mock interviews. Ask anyone who can read your personal statement and a list of potential questions!

What will happen on the day?
You will have 2 interviews. 1 on your own with 2 interviewers and one in a group. These can happen in either order and you’ll spend the rest of your time there in your group with some current medical students relaxing and chatting.

Who are the interviewers?
These are lecturers, doctors, teachers, admissions staff. Huge variety.

What is the individual interview?
This is a 20 minute interview based loosely on your personal statement with 2 interviewers. You can be asked a range of questions depending on what you have written. Expect – Why medicine? Why here?

What is the group interview?
This is also 20 minutes but you’re also given 5 minutes to prepare. You’ll be given a topic for discussion and after having 5 minutes to think about it, you will discuss it as a group in front of 2 interviewers. It is relaxed and friendly. Don’t worry about it! It is not a knowledge test, and you can’t really practice for it.

What questions will come up?
I’ve listed 2 almost universal questions above. Otherwise the rest will vary enormously from person to person depending on what they say and what is in the PS. People get asked about the history of medicine, the future of medicine, books they mentioned they read, hobbies, ethics, law. Each interview is totally unique and so there isn’t any point in trying to work out what you’ll be asked.

Just practice answering anything (use the link to my blog on how I prepared) because that is the best way to a) come across unrehearsed and b) be able to answer complete curve ball questions.

What happens after interviews?
You’ll get a letter saying if you have been successful or unsuccessful. If this is going to take a while you may get a “further consideration” letter that says you’re still in the running. This may not happen until March/April, even if others hear before you.

How do they choose?
After each task, you will be listed as “suitable” or “not suitable” ad marked on their assessment criteria. This is then taken into consideration with the rest of your application before an offer is made.

How will I get an offer?
This is an update on UCAS Track and then a letter follows.

What is the offer?
The offer is the same for everyone – for BM6 it is BBC in any of your subjects (ie you don’t need to get B’s in specific subjects). BM5 it is AAA and BM4 is a 2:1, plus A level requirements.

Is it conditional or unconditional?
Last year a few people got unconditional offers but these are reserved for people with their A levels in hand and proven. Everyone else gets an unconditional offer until they get their results or prove old results.
If it is conditional and you send in your certificates, they may not update your status until August Results Day.

Beth’s top tips for a good medicine personal statement

Having spent the last 4 years reviewing personal statements in my spare time, I have come to have a fairly decent understanding of what is and isn’t required. So here are my top tips for getting it right!

  1. Do not make lists of things you’ve done. It’s important you show your interest and experience, but you have to remember your competition. Everyone will have shadowed a surgeon, a doctor, a vet. Everyone has done Duke of Edinburgh, worked at a charity shop and helped at a care home. It is all about the reflection which brings me to my next point:
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  2. Write about what you have learnt. Each placement, each experience should be related back to how it makes you a better medical student. Taught someone maths? Leadership and communication skills. Observed a multidisciplinary team meeting? Learnt the value of teamwork in a care environment.
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  3. Avoid the cliches. “Always” being interested in never true. “Fascinations with the intricacies of the human body” fade when you’re in the lab for the 3rd time that week trying to learn it. “Realising that sometimes a little chat with that elderly lady in the care home is really all she needs” changes when you don’t have the time for that any more. Oh, and orienteering your lost group in DoE back to the campsite is not a key skill. Find a different leadership role.
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  4. Don’t tell fibs. They’ll catch you out. If you say you read the sBMJ, read it or they’ll ask at interview and you’ll be stumped. Don’t be the guy who claims he runs marathons and when asked “What do you do when you hit the wall?” answer – “If I bump into things I usually just dust myself off and keep running”.
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  5. Don’t write about your A levels. Colleges love going on about this but it is so irrelevant. Unless you’ve done something obscure, there is no need. Do admissions tutors really not know that biology taught you lab skills? Do they need to be reminded that English Lit encourages essay writing skills? Not really, no. Instead they want to know about you as a person. Not you and every single other applicant who is doing the same subjects. If however, you want to discuss your EPQ or a specific part of your studies – by all means.
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  6. Do not get lost in language. Admissions will have thousands of these to read. One of the requirements of a doctor is also to be clear and understood by patients and other professionals. Write in short clear sentences and try not to sound like Shakespeare. If you feel your statement is better when it is read out loud with large arm movements, you probably need to change it. Remember that while medicine is an art and a science, until you are practicing it as a doctor, it is simply science. Your statement should reflect this.

How to get started on your Medicine personal statement

I get asked this question a lot and I always give the same advice. Make bullet points under the following headings and then expand each part:

Intro – This wants to be a few sentences, short and specifically detailing why you want to study medicine. Keep it current – nothing about when you were 3 or 4 or 5 and wanting to study medicine. You may have wanted to do it for a long time but they want to know why you want to do it NOW. Try to avoid the cliches, and quotes rarely work well.

Key tip: No one has ever ALWAYS wanted to do it.

Work experience – This part should form a large chunk of your statement. Don’t just list what you did, because remember that you’re up against people who have all done the same. They’ve all worked as a HCA, shadowed a doctor, shadowed a surgeon, worked in a charity show and a care home. It’s all been done. Nothing (well, unless you’ve done something exceptional) is new. Instead you need to show that you have had these experiences and learnt from it. For example

I went to my local GP surgery and I saw lots of patient consultations. To further my experience I went to a local hospital and shadowed an oncologist and a paediatrician and a nurse. I saw that they had long hours but this experience still intensified my passionate desire to work in a hospital.

 

That (stolen with permission) tells you that they spent some time following people. And they liked being in a hospital. It’s almost completely useless and doesn’t tell me anything about you or about what you LEARNT which is the whole POINT of work experience and a PS. Instead, you want to reflect. Did you see good communication skills? Why were they good? Did you see teamwork? Why was it important and why made it good?

Pro Tip: If you’re still doing work experience, try to keep a diary as you go. It makes reflection so much easier.

Volunteering – This comes next and again should form a large paragraph. Start with anything where you’ve been in a caring role, working with children or vulnerable people, working in a care home etc. This can follow the same sort of reflection as work experience.

Then move onto less relevant experience. Charity shops, etc come into this category but it is where you can express your ability to deal with a diverse range of people. Remember that while giving up your time and working with the public are important, being in a charity shop is not enough on it’s own. You need to remember to relate it back to medicine.

Extra curriculars – Unless you’ve done something amazing, you will want to keep this short too. Captain of a team, member of a team, any teaching etc that you want to get in is great but remember most people play a sport and most people have done DofE. In fact a lot of statements I read all say that during DofE they got lost and that you managed to save your group by orienteering back to where you were supposed to be. Orienteering is not a key skill here. Keep. It. Relevant. Remember your competition and keep it short. Anything about gap years or future experiences can go here too.

Conclusion – This should be a couple of sentences. Summarising why you should be chosen.Try not to repeat yourself, but just quickly tell them why your experiences mean you’re better for a place that the next PS in the pile.

 

This is obviously not a required format but it seems to work and is easy to make it flow. Once you’ve expanded it, then it is a case of going over it again and again. Giving it to parents/neighbours (not posting it online) to read and critique. Anyone can tell you if it is good because everyone should have an opinion on who they want as a doctor.

Then put it in a drawer/folder and leave it for a week. Ever read something you wrote years ago and thought “why did I write that?!??”. Well that is what this does. Gives you some distance and lets you review through more critical eyes.

A PS is not something you can do in a day or a week. Don’t leave it until October. Get started now. In fact, if you have time to be reading my blog, you have time to start doing this! So go on! GO! Get started. And good luck!

Semester I exams and Semester II

So, we are now well into semester 2. I am pleased to say I passed semester one and passed it well. The anatomy was hard to learn but the exam wasn’t nearly as hard as the practice exams in the practical sessions.

The exams (though this may change) are a written paper called “short notes”. This is like mini essays/bullet points/diagrams on questions with drug calculations at the start. Then there is the one best answer which is statistics and then multiple choice questions.

They’re scary but not too bad, honest. Most of the year group got C grades (around 100 people), while only 50ish got A-B grades. Seriously don’t expect A’s in med school! I was more  than happy with my B!

Semester 2 is “RCR” or “Respiratory/Cardiovascular/Renal” 1. So far it has been interesting, with a lot more practical sessions than foundation of medicine. Blood pressures, ECGs and respiratory examinations have been covered so far for example.

We also are continuing our student selected unit with the humanities module. It requires a creative outcome (art, scultpure, writing etc) and I am making a cake! As always there is an SSU essay (reflective) to go alongside it and Medicine in practice (kinda clinical sessions) will also be examined this semester with an essay, a presentation and being observed taking a patient history.

We’ve also got our big essay due in 4 weeks. This time it is on Infective Endocarditis and related drugs, lesions, ECGs and blood pressures/ABGs. Busy busy busy!

So that’s the run down of Sem II so far!

BM6: Getting the grades

Just wanted to outline the importance of getting the grades. This is vital to all medicine applications and seems obvious, however in my class many people got turned down who had not quite made the requirements of CCC. This included those with CCD (and extenuating circumastance) and even those with BBD.

This was a little overshadowed by the fact that 33 people did make it, 3 over the normal class size already, however in the class of 2011 only 29 students made it. This goes to show that even when there is space, those without the minimum grades are no longer considered, even if only missing out by one grade in one subject.

Although this is not great news, it just reinforces the idea that once they’ve given you an offer, if you meet it in, you’re in. If you don’t, you’re not. It’s clear cut and simple, no confusion of will I won’t I.

So to those applying good luck! And those lucky 29 who made it this year, congratulations! It was all worth it in the end.

BM5: It begins

Formally enrolled onto 2011/12 so I am officially BM5! Especially now the new BM6ers have their grades and offers etc. It’s real. Need to get a white lab coat and a stethoscope and stuff. Excited.

First post as a BM5! Wooo!!

Although now might be the time to mention that I am really scared right now. All the new scary BM5’s joining and some of them will not like us BM6ers. Already overheard one current BM5 telling a prospective student and her parents that BM6 was for special people. Not very nice at all.

One order of thicker skin coming up!

Southampton Uni UKCAT

So I helped out at the open day the other week. I met a proportion of the 25000 people or something that visited. Lost my voice completely but found out interesting things about the UKCAT!

– BM6 requires the UKCAT to be taken but they DO NOT USE IT!
– BM5 requires the UKCAT and they discount those with scores that are below 2500 (when added together). This will be going up.

I don’t think “they”, you know, the scientists, know if it is effective in determining who is going to be a good doctor but oh well.

Here is a link to a list of hints that I found useful when doing the UKCAT!

Southampton Uni Open Day

So a quick shout out to those I met at the open day. The hundreds of you that I spoke to for hours and hours. Oh and did I mention the hours? But seriously, I was the one in the yellow shirt (ha) with the misbehaving fringe. It was lovely to meet you all and have a little chat and I look forward to seeing you in the future when you join our fabulous establishment! 😀

Any further questions you have or forgot to ask or want to know, feel free to pester. I do so love getting emails!

BM6: Timetable and subjects

A lot of people have been asking me the basic layout of the BM6 timetable so I thought I’d give you a general overview. There are 2 basic subjects in the BM6 year. Human Structure and Function (HSF) and Professional Practice (PP). HSF is biology and PP is more about the NHS and healthcare, sociology, ethics etc.

The basic timetable is as follows:

Tuesday
9 – 1:  HSF

2 -4: PP

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Wednesday

Alternates between a morning of PP and a morning of placement. Afternoons are free time!


Thursday

9 – 1: HSF

2 – 4 (or 5):  PP (usually statistics).

This is basic, and sometimes Mondays or Fridays have timetabled things but rarely. This was just my experience and may have changed but oh well!