Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Our sincere apologies!

Hey there! Hope everyone's live and kicking ;)

I would just like to apologise (on behalf of Z as well) for the lack of posting! Z did promise that we'd be posting more about the re-application process soon, and it's been nearly a month! We're half way through writing it up (yes it will be one looong read!) but I haven't been able to get through to Z and can't post it unfinished!

I'm trying my best to sort it out, and I hope you can accept our sincere apologies.

Please visit us again soon! Take care (and work on those grades for the time being!) If you have any specific questions I'd be happy to answer them. Please email me at .


Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Quick Message :)

Hello there!

Just a quick message to say to all the readers out there, that we are currently starting to put together a post for reapplicants :) Expect it sometime near the end of next week!

After that we've got various posts planned (UKCAT/BMAT, Personal Statements etc) that should be popping up on here soon :) So sorry if this blog is looking a bit bare at the mo' but we promise it'll be much more exciting soon!

Take care, and thanks for looking!


Saturday, 22 March 2008

*~ M ~*

Hey all!

OK I don’t intend to write my third personal statement so will just tell you briefly what it took me to get to where I am today – securing an unconditional offer from my first choice medical school.

When I first applied to medical school I was so hopeful that I'd receive at least one offer, but I ended up with four hurtful rejections. The application cycle (in particular interviews) was much more complicated than I expected, and competition was fiercer than I thought. I was studying for my A2 Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and General Studies, with an AS in English Language. My predicted grades were AAA but my UKCAT wasn’t that high (595). However, it was the first year for UKCAT then so it didn’t hold much importance in selection for interviews. I had three weeks of hospital work experience, planned to volunteer at a local children’s hospice and studied an Open University short course in human health and genetics alongside my AS Levels. I also mentioned in my PS that I was involved in school societies, assisted in school events e.g. multicultural evenings and open days, and represented my views in a channel four documentary. I also ran a youth club for six months and was a trained mentor for a year.

First time round I applied to Sheffield, Southampton, Peninsula Medical School (PMS) and Leicester. I was invited for interview at the latter two medical schools. After months of anticipating offers I was rejected. (Again, details later). After getting over my four rejections, I applied to the Bradford Clinical Science course via UCAS Extra. I thought it would give me another go at getting into medical school, as students have the opportunity after their first year to transfer to the second year of Leeds medical school, if they achieve 65% or above and succeed at a Leeds interview. (More details about the Clinical Science course later.) However, after being invited for interview at Bradford, I realised I was more likely to get into medical school if I got the grades and reapplied, rather than through Clinical Science, since the probability of transferring was low in comparison. I also thought it would be great to have an extra three medical school choices (not just Leeds) and a whole year of a break from studying. So I made that (ever so hard) decision to cancel my interview and explained to the director my situation. She said it was wise of me to make that decision, so at least I had one person on my side!

OK so results day came and although I wasn’t expecting it at all I did achieve, miraculously, AAB. I spent an hour on 16th August 2007 calling every medical school in the country. Unsurprisingly all medical schools had no places, but, it happened to be that many applicants who received conditional offers from Keele did not meet the conditions of their offer, so the admissions officer I called said they would have considered me if I had called half an hour before. Well there’s always a lucky person… though from the bottom of my heart, I didn’t really want to start studying again in September!

First thing I did was sit my UKCAT exam. This time I achieved 670 so that was my first relief! I began searching for healthcare jobs, and applied to over 20 posts both via the NHS website and using the good old yellow pages. I was invited for several interviews and received two job offers. Thankfully I made the right decision and am now working 30-40 hours per week at a care home for adults with severe learning disabilities and sensory impairment. Although it can be hard at times I absolutely love my job and the feeling I come home with is incomprehensible. I’m still volunteering at the children’s hospice (it has been nearly two years to date) on a regular basis and this has provided me with confidence of dealing with physically disabled children. I spent a further three weeks on work experience at a hospital (in addition to last year’s three weeks) shadowing more consultants, and two weeks at a GP surgery. I’m also halfway through my driving lessons, and am glad that I didn’t start last year because now I can concentrate on it properly and not worry about studying, homework or revision. It may sound like all my time is taken up but because my work times vary (I work shifts) I still have and evening or morning off every day. I signed up for a British Sign Language (BSL) course, which runs every week for four months. This did cost quite a bit but because I had the motivation to learn BSL I didn’t really care – money is replaceable. Why BSL I hear you ask? Well when I was on a ward round at hospital, there was this Afro-Caribbean patient suffering from sickle cell anaemia, who was admitted into A&E. He was deaf, and could only communicate in BSL. The medical team could not understand what he was saying and found it very hard to communicate with him, as it was only 8am so the interpreter was not available. The consultant therefore could not take a detailed history. I felt that for a doctor to know BSL would be extremely helpful, even if it is very basic, because it’s totally unfair for a patient to lose out on treatment just because they’re deaf. Anyway, I have had three BSL lessons so far and they have been incredible. Our tutor is deaf and it's amazing how much one can learn just from his facial expressions and hands.
So that’s basically what I’m doing this year. My personal statement was obviously much better than last year’s and I received interviews from Sheffield, QMUL (Barts and the London), and Bradford for Clinical Science. I felt much more confident at interview as I had much more to talk about. After unconditional offers from Sheffield and Bradford, I withdrew from two medical schools (never thought I would do that!) –QMUL and BSMS, and I’ve just been rejected from Leeds (but I have to say it didn't hit me at all!)

That’s all for now folks! There's more to come - visit us again soon!


Friday, 21 March 2008

*~ Z ~*

Hey! I’m ‘Z’ (the other poster on this form being ‘M’ ... and no, before you ask we don’t really refer to each other by code names in real life ... well not often anyway :p). Before we get stuck into writing about medical schools, UCAS, personal statements, interviews etc we thought it’d be best if you’d know a little more about both of us. So here it goes:

I applied for medicine last year (October 2006, for entry in September 2007) at Cambridge (Downing College), UCL, King’s College London (GKT) and Leeds. I had interviews at Cambridge (both at Downing College and at New Hall, after being pooled) and at King’s College. As you may have guessed, I was rejected from all 4 medical schools (Cambridge (Jan), Leeds (mid-Feb), GKT (late-Feb) and UCL (late-March).

Before applying, and not to sound big-headed (though I’m guessing it’s going to sound like it anyway!) I was quietly confident with my application. I had a solid academic background (7A*/3A at GCSE, 5A/1B at AS level, predicted 4As, UKCAT average score of 610), a ton of really interesting work experience that I’d had a lot of fun doing and 2 different long term voluntary placements at the local hospital and at the local hospice (no I didn’t just write hospital twice, go back and read it again :p). On top of this, I also had support from all of my teachers/family/friends and so on. So I guess you can say that I was pretty shocked and upset when I got no offers at the end of it all. But what happens, happens, I guess, and I can honestly say that the decision to take a gap year and reapply has been the best one I’ve made in my life (argh! that sounds so cliché!) and I’m in a much better position, now, to enter medical school than I would have been if I got in last year.

After my last rejection (UCL, in March), I really had to decide what I wanted to do. I’d got offers from both UCL (for physics) and Newcastle (for biochemistry) (oh I should point out that in the 2007 admissions cycle, you had 6 choices (only 4 for medicine) overall, not like the 5 choices you have nowadays). Though I really liked both universities, cities and courses, I couldn’t really imagine spending the next 3 years of my life studying either subject. If I’m honest, I only stuck them down on my application for the sake of it, so that I knew I’d at least have the option to chose them if I wanted to, had I not received any offers, since neither university entered into UCAS Extra or UCAS Clearing for those particular courses. After much thinking and talking to various people (my parents, my family, my school principal, my teachers etc) I decided to take a gap year and reapply, since there was never really anything wrong with my application, and I knew I wanted to do medicine, I just seemed to be one of the unlucky ones who came out with no offers.

There was a (albeit very brief!) moment where I considered doing the Clinical Sciences course at Bradford. But then I realised that I didn’t really like Bradford, and that, personally, I didn’t like the course, and since the real chances of transfer where so slim, I ultimately decided against it. And, if I’m honest, there was also a moment of indecision, which I guess every medical school rejectee goes through – ‘is medicine for me?’/’why did I get rejected?’/’does that mean I shouldn’t be a doctor?’etc, but after talking to a lot of people, and getting some advice, I realised that it was what I wanted to do, and that one setback shouldn’t change my feelings and hopes for the future. So I was all set ready to be a reapplicant 2007!

Results day came round (the day before my birthday, isn’t that nice?) and I achieved AAB (in Maths, Biology and Chemistry ... I should point out that I dropped my 4th ALevel, that I was predicted an A in, in the middle of year 13, since I didn’t have time with all my voluntary work, extra curriculars, school work and other commitments). I also had 3 additional AS levels with grades of AAA (in Further Maths, Physics and Critical Thinking, yes in fact I really am a science geek :D). I was pleased; since I had the grades I needed to reapply, but slightly upset that I messed up chemistry. But then, with everything I had gone through in that past year, it was more then I could have hoped for :D.

The day after results day, I started to get my application together. I booked my UKCAT and BMAT (put off doing it before, since I had no guarantee I’d get the grades to be able to reapply), started writing my personal statement, and emailed my school’s vice-principal to ask her to start writing my reference and so on.

I sat the UKCAT in the final week of testing (close shave I know, but I was super busy in September!!), and achieved an average score of 695 (though with the abstract reasoning section take out, this became 700). I COMPLETELEY changed my personal statement (looking back on it now, my 2007 personal statement was very cringe worthy!) as well. I also sat the BMAT, where I received a score of 22.5. It was probably the hardest exam paper I’ve ever taken (and that includes module 5 A2 Chemistry! Ha ha)!

I applied to Manchester, Sheffield, UCL (again!) and St. Andrews. I’ve had interviews at all four: Manchester in November (first day of interviews!), Sheffield in November (third day of interviews!), UCL in January and St. Andrews in March. I received unconditional offers from St. Andrews, Manchester and Sheffield.

In my gap year, I continued with my voluntary work and work experience. I spent two afternoons a week at the hospice, and all day Sunday at the hospital. I also usually had one or two days a week organised to work at a GP practice, or with one of the consultants that I did my first lot of work experience with, at one of the Manchester teaching hospitals (Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester Eye Hospital, Manchester Children’s Hospital, Christie’s and also at my local district general hospital). Along with this, I did a British Sign Language course at my local college, worked a couple of days a week at a GP practice as a receptionist and ... lots more :D I basically tried to fit in as much as I could into my gap year, and tried to keep myself busy! I’d also planned some travelling – in the Middle East in winter 2007, and in the US in spring/summer 2008. While in the US I’ve also been working at some biomedical research labs, and studying at a local university’s extension school (a bit like the Open University, but way more cool :D). I can honestly say that I’ve been having the time of my life on this gap year :)

That’s about as much that I’m going to write at the moment, I can’t think of anything else! More details will be coming soon, but for now, watch out for our posts about everything med school related!