Rachel, a first year medical student at the University of Newcastle, talks to Get Into Medicine about applying, interviews and more! 

Getting into Medicine- Newcastle University

So far, being a first year medical student at Newcastle University is brilliant. I definitely feel it is the right place for me! Saying this, if you’d have asked me two years ago whether my hope of studying medicine would become a reality, I would have most likely replied with an anxious ‘we’ll see.’ As the process of applying to study such a competitive course is not an easy undertaking and I hope that reading about my experience will be of some help to you. 

The Application

Having read a lot of literature on applying to medical school, I became aware that volunteering and work experience were an important part of a medical school application. I sought out a volunteer position at a home for disabled adults and helped out there for two years and thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent there. If you are able to volunteer, I would recommend making a diary as this will come in handy when it comes to writing your personal statement  because it will allow you to reflect on what you learnt, whether it be about yourself, different healthcare professionals or the role of doctors in the wider community. Additionally, I volunteered for a week with the charity Vitalise, which I would recommend to anyone because it was a fantastic experience and a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to have two weeks of work experience in a hospital setting. I learnt quite quickly however, that it was not the amount of work experience that you had, nor the number of fancy procedures that you saw that was important- it was what you learnt from it. 

Having looked around many universities, it did not take me long to realise that Newcastle was the place for me. I can remember walking around the university feeling a buzz of excitement that I hadn’t felt anywhere else. However, my hope of studying at Newcastle meant that I had to persevere with the dreaded UKCAT.   Honestly for me this was the most stressful part of applying to medical school but please note that despite what you may read, practice does make perfect! Furthermore, you do not need to go on any expensive courses to do well! Just do as many practice questions as you can and try your best to keep calm. 

Writing a personal statement for medical school is not an easy task! There’s a lot you want to say and not a lot of words to say it. Looking back, I wish that I had focused more on what I wanted to say about myself, my experiences and reasons for studying medicine, rather than what I thought universities wanted to hear. When it comes to writing a personal statement my main piece of advice is do not be descriptive but explore what you learnt about yourself or the profession from a particular experience.

The Waiting...

The period between sending off my application and eventually receiving my conditional offer seemed like an absolute eternity. I can remember checking my emails ALL the time. I found it very frustrating because friends would be receiving offers for other courses pretty instantaneously. Applying to medicine you have to wait...and wait! Just try to remember that it is perfectly normal to have a long delay before you hear anything, it is not that you have done anything wrong.

The Interview

I had my Newcastle interview in early December and after having an awful interview experience at Manchester the week before, I was determined not to let nerves get the better of me this time around! My interview was of a pretty traditional format. I was interviewed by two people, one whom focused on me as a person: why I wanted to study medicine; why Newcastle etc and the other interviewer tested my general knowledge and interest in medicine which covered many things from the new NHS structure to how I would approach an ethical dilemma. I would honestly go as far to say that towards the end of the interview I was beginning to enjoy myself! Because the interview was around half an hour, it gave me a real chance to paint a picture of myself to the interviewers. My advice to a Newcastle interviewee would be to make sure you research the course at Newcastle and know what, in your mind, sets it apart from other universities and furthermore enjoy it!  I really felt like the interviewers wanted me to do well.

Life as a Medic

There is no sugar coating it, being a medical student is not easy and you do have to work hard...but it definitely worth it! Here at Newcastle I love the variety that I have in my timetable. There is a good balance between time spent in the lecture theatre and time spent elsewhere whether it be in the dissection room, clinical skills lab, or in seminars. For example, tomorrow I am spending the full day in hospital, which I am very much looking forward to! The course constantly puts what you learn into a clinical context which allows me to remain motivated. I have also met some of the most fantastic people so try not to worry about leaving home and going to university; wherever you go you are bound to meet like-minded people. The life of a medical student is definitely worth the hard work you will put in so go for it!

Best of Luck


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