Category Archives: Medical School

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 Check on the website if this is out of date next year.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.

What to do on placements?

This is something I never understood until I started more full time placements. It’s hard as a med student to balance learning, down time, and ward time but also it’s very difficult when you feel like you’re in the way on the wards and don’t know what to do with yourself. So here is my advice on what to do:

-Befriend the team. If they’re looking out for you they will get you involved.

-Go to a few ward rounds. Write in the notes as if you are an F1. Take a history from a patient and present them on the ward round. Scary, but if you mess up you will never make that mistake again.

-Follow a junior. The consultants do lots of busy consultant things. But the juniors do all the work you’re going to do. Help them out. Do their jobs for them. Take their bloods etc. They might teach you in return, but even if they don’t it is good practice.

-Just talk to the patients. Pick one from each bay. They’re bored. Most of them love a good chat. Take a history, examine them, and then find someone to present to if you’re really brave.

-Ask someone where you’ll find the most classic patients. Clinics or wards? And spend time there.

-When you hear of a new patient coming in through AMU etc, find them, take a history and follow them through the day. Even better, follow them up throughout the week. You’ll learn their case and remember it if you remember them personally.

-Get in on a surgery list and ask to scrub in. The worst they can say is no. But nothing cements in your mind the layers of the abdomen by watching someone slice through them while you help.

-Spend time in the library, but not too much time. Learn through doing.

Final Year

Unbelievably I have started final year. It’s been good so far and looks like this:

Medicine In Practice 3              6 weeks
Obs & Gynae                              4 weeks
Paediatrics                                  4 weeks
Medicine                                     8 weeks
Student Selected Unit               4 weeks
Psychiatry                                   4 weeks
Surgery                                        7 weeks
General Practice                        2 weeks


Currently on Medicine which is 5 weeks of Elderly Care, and a week of cardio and a week of AMU which will be an assistantship – basically traipsing round after an F1 and trying to do their job

Paediatrics was interesting, can’t say I am a huge fan to be honest. I love kids, but not while they’re screaming or totally uninterested in their consultation and instead are asking their mum to take selfies with them while the doctor desperately asks questions. It’s a good placement though and I got to spend time on the Paeds Assessment Unit, in surgery, in the neonatal unit and in clinics.

Obs and gynae was amazing. Delivered lots of babies and saw lots of very cool surgeries. It’s a really really interesting speciality and I have arranged to do 4 more weeks of it to see if I could do it for a career. The hours look a little terrifying though. But it’s a good mix of medicine and surgery, highly specialised at times but also more general when it comes to the mothers.

MIP 3 was okay. As 4th year was a research project year I was a bit rusty so we got to spend time in general practice, surgery and in medicine to remind us what patients were.

Final year has changed structure in Southampton but these placements will be in there somewhere I am sure!

Starting my first clinical year.

I am due to start my first clinical placement on the 8th of September after a 1 week induction course. I am not going to lie – I am scared! I am going to make a note of my main concerns and hopefully in a few weeks/months/a year will be able to come back and reflect on whether or not my fears were well placed or not!

My 3rd year placements (also called rotations) are:

6 weeks in psychiatry
5 weeks in paediatrics
1 week in general practice
11 weeks in medicine
8 weeks in surgery
4 weeks in obstetrics and gynaecology


Currently I am worried that I am pretty sure I can’t remember anything from the last 2 years of studying. I am also worried that I am going to be terrible at taking blood.

I currently don’t understand what to revise for intermediates and if it is literally everything then I don’t understand that even remotely.

My first placement is psych and that seems intense. Everyone has horror stories and that alarms me a little bit but I am suuuuure it will be fine….

I don’t know if I am going to have a clue what to do on the wards or with my time in general…. The whole thing seems alien and unknown. We shall see!

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:
  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.
  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.
  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”.
  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.
  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.

Good luck tomorrow!

Good luck to everyone receiving their results tomorrow. Remember if it doesn’t go to plan it is not over. Remember if it does go to plan then enjoy what’s left of summer!

The Student Room has great forums ready to advise you on what to do next regardless of what happens. Come and say hi!

Clinical Rotations

So I have got my first ever pure clinical year starting in September and I have finally got my rotation through! When this is changes depending on where you go to med school. At Southampton it is going to be in year 4 for everyone after my year. But as I am on their old course plan I have mine in my 3rd year of BM5 (so 4th of BM6).

I am starting off in community medicine (psych, paeds, GP), then moving onto medicine and palliative care, and finally surgery and obs and gynae! It’s going to be a lot busy year but I am definitely looking forward to not living in lectures anymore! That said I’ll still have Friday lectures  in the morning but that’s about it!

I’ll update with more when I know more.

Semester III

Semester three was (for me) gastrointestinal and nervous and locomotor 2 though this will be semester 4 for anyone starting now.

GI was good! Lots of poo talk but lovely big structures with clear anatomy and well known physiology. It is a straight forward no nonsense topic and I really enjoyed it!

Neuro – yes, it was hard. Yes, I thought I might just fall down dead during revision, but in retrospect it isn’t as hard as people make out. There is a lot of abstract content (and a lot of content in general) but I got really caught up in thinking the anatomy was going to be impossible…. and it really (REALLY) wasn’t. Yes it is a little more abstract but it is far from impossible. In comparison to GI anatomy is harder but physiology is more interesting. I loved learning the way things work and realise why a lot of interesting quirks happen and why symptoms occur. Alternating hemiplegia was particularly interesting.


Results came out Friday and after all the hell that was revision I actually did better in Semester 3 than I did in Semester 2 which I thought was easier! I think as you progress it does get harder, but I think that we get better at doing it.

Onto semester 4! My last lecture based year. Eeep!

Semester II

Passed semester 2! Really really pleased. I had some really lovely feedback from my medicine in practice teacher which was brilliant. The exam was so strange, talking to a fake patient while my GP teacher hid behind a curtain! But as the most practical part of the course so far I am really pleased to have done well!


Onto Semester III!