Parent's Guide: Medical Application
We are so pleased to hear that your child is looking to study medicine, but we know the whole application process can feel really daunting, as there seems like so much you need to do in order to help your child gain a place at the medical school of their choice. Have no fear, it is for this reason that we have created the Medic Mind Parents Guide to Medical Applications.
It is key in being prepared for medical applications, as they are not like a normal university applications. Your child will need to have completed work experience and shadowing of doctors as well as ideally having completed some voluntary work before applying to medical school. On top of this, your child will need to sit entrance exams, write a personal statement, and decide which medical schools they will be applying to. We have written a list of tasks your child will need to complete and in order below, so you can stay on top of the application in supporting your child.
Gain work experience
Gaining work experience in the medical field can be difficult, therefore capitalise on any family connections that you have. Ask any relatives or family friends that work within the medical profession if they would be willing to have your child shadow them. This will give your child a great insight into the medical profession that they need to strengthen their application. Failing this, encourage your child to speak to their career advisor or head of sixth form about gaining work experience. They may have a contact at the local hospital who helps students gain work experience. Alternatively you can encourage your child to contact the education department of your local hospital to arrange work shadowing opportunities. You will need to make sure they do this as early as possible (usually at the beginning of year 12), as spaces shadowing on wards during the holidays get taken early where many students within the local area are planning to apply to medicine or another allied healthcare professional course.
Alternative ways of gaining work experience include volunteering at a local care home or hospice. Other options also include volunteering as a patient visitor at your local hospital or even shadowing behind the reception at a GP surgery. There are also options to travel abroad for unique shadowing opportunities. Companies such as Global Pre-Meds offer some fantastic opportunities that will really make your child’s medical application stand out from the crowd.
You may have heard of the UCAT and BMAT, if not they are about to become something that you regularly think about. Medical schools require applicants to sit either the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) or BMAT (BioMedical Admissions Test), in order to help shortlist applicants for interview. Therefore it is essential that your child scores highly in these exams. Check out our UCAS timeline as well as our UCAT and BMAT key dates. The UCAT examination will require your child to register and pick a date, time and test center for the examination, which you may need to take them to. The BMAT on the other hand is usually organised by your child’s sixth-form or college. Encourage them to speak to their careers advisor or exams office who will be able to arrange the examination for your child at either their school or at an alternative local school.
Medical School Open Days
Getting a place at a medical school open day can be quite difficult, more so than you would think. Be sure to check out the different medical school websites to find out the dates and how to apply for a place at the talks. If you are able to travel to them for open days do go along. It is a great way to get a feel for the university as well as to talk to current students. This is beneficial for both your child and yourself as a parent to see how other students have settled in, as well as a chance to check out the facilities on offer and surrounding area. If you are unable to attend an open day, once your child has decided which universities to apply to, or has received interviews for, do go and visit the university. Most campuses are open for you to walk around so you can get a great feel of the university during term time. Although you won’t be able to see the facilities on offer it is still a good idea as your child can say in their interview that they have been to look around the university.
Our Top Tips:
As a parent being supportive of your child’s application to medical school is very important. It can be harrowing when their friends and peers are receiving offers for courses at university and they haven’t even heard back about an interview. Therefore, understanding the application process is a great way of being supportive to your child.
Don’t give up
It can be very disappointing for students who are unsuccessful at interview. This can be very demoralising for applicants, but it is important that you encourage your child to focus on their academics. They may choose to take a gap year after year 13 and work to strengthen their application for the following year, or they may choose to do an undergraduate degree and re-apply as a graduate. Whatever option they pick, don’t let them give up, this is especially true as some medical schools have started putting places (very few) in adjustment for students to apply to on results day for medicine.
Make sure your child is sure medicine is right for them
This would be our biggest top tip. Being a doctor isn’t an easy career with the long training, long hours on the job and little pay, but it is worth it for those who truly love the career and want to be a doctor. Therefore it is essential that your child understands the truth of what a career in medicine entails. By helping them gain work experience they will be able to gain this insight themselves and reach their own decision as to if medicine is right for them or not.