In this series of articles, medical students from across the UK speak about their personal journey to medicine. Ray is an undergraduate medical student studying at the University of Glasgow
Being a Scottish medical student my application process may be a little bit different than most. I am a 2nd year now at the University of Glasgow and the journey of applying to medicine was definitely tough and sometimes confusing, but you’re never alone in thinking that.
I started my application by doing work experience. I did a few weeks of work experience at a Psychiatric Hospital in Scotland and through doing this I got to see a lot of hands on teamwork between all types of staff as well as their collective approach to communicating with patients and trying to help and rehabilitate some of the most vulnerable people within society. Psychiatry was one of those fields for me that was often overlooked in medicine and I enjoyed getting hands on in a field that I actually knew nothing about, it further made me want to proceed in studying medicine and all the fields within it.
Applying to medicine
Everything seemed to come quite fast at the start of the application process. I juggled work experience alongside visiting different universities (mainly in Scotland where I’m from) and then sitting my UKCAT. None of the universities I was going to apply to required the BMAT. I then started formulating my personal statement.
I think a common misconception is that there is a “one-shoe-fits-all” approach when it comes to writing a personal statement. Yes, medical schools are definitely looking for some key characteristics but one important thing is that it’s “personal”. For me, I lacked knowledge and experience in the field of conventional medicine and science – something other people may have a lot of. However, I had been doing sports all my life. By linking things I have learned and different ethical scenarios and characteristics/skills I have had to use by doing sports, there were clear links to that and skills I would need to proceed in having a career in medicine.
I linked key skills an everyday medical student and doctor would need. Such as: communication, problem-solving and teamwork – to the simplest of ways I use them every day doing sport. By stripping back my personal statement and making it personal, I actually found creating links between my hobbies and skills needed for medicine, easy. My ideology is that no matter what you’re interested in, it can always fit to studying medicine. You could be in a band, playing video games or dressing up as mermaid at an amusement park. There’s always something that can be linked to why you want to do medicine.
How have you found medical student life?
I managed to receive all four of my offers to study medicine (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and KCL) and now I am a 2nd year at Glasgow. First year has definitely been mixed with stress and fun. The workload is high but the content is very interesting. You can see the payoff in what you are learning instantly as you slowly realise you can hold far more information that you ever could before. In first year, I was already learning and experiencing things not many 18/19 year olds from Scotland would ever get to say they’ve seen before.
The application process was definitely tough but it was well worth it.