Paula, final year Medical Student
Paula loves being a medical student. This is how she got there
Tell us about your experience of getting into medicine
I am the first in my family to apply for medicine – my mum is a teacher, and my dad is an electrician. I decided I wanted to apply for medicine when I was in S3.
For the UKCAT, I used the 600 UKCAT Qs book (with the blue cover) and also went to a KAPLAN course thanks to earnings from my job throughout the school year. I think what really helped was doing loads of questions for hours during free periods. Maybe you can’t study the content, but you can 100% prepare!
A major issue I had with my application was work experience. In the end, I was lucky to get 3 days with my dad’s friend’s PE teacher’s daughter. Tips – apply to programmes like MEDIC INSIGHT (in edinburgh, dundee and now glasgow) if you are eligible, and go and meet with your GP.
I played violin and piano and participated in local and county orchestras. I also volunteered with the learning disabled in Hamilton. I loved it and it was great to experience how people with learning difficulties communicate – this actually ended up being a roleplay station in my Dundee interview! I still do this today but in Edinburgh, and it is something I really enjoy.
What is being a doctor (or med student) like?
I love being a medical student! I cannot recommend medical school enough, I enjoy (almost) every day I spend on the wards and in clinics. Learning the underlying mechanisms of how everything works is fascinating, and it’s such a buzz when you use your knowledge of ‘first principles’ to understand how diseases work and how to treat them. It’s also great because you don’t spend most of your time in lectures (apart from Y1-2) – you’re out on the ward seeing patients, speaking to nursing staff and have lots of skills to learn.
Since the end of my intercalated degree in Public Health, I have also worked on the NHS Lothian StaffBank as a nursing auxilliary. I would recommend it to all medical students and prospective applicants. I feel it has made me much more relaxed and comfortable in my approach to patients and the other staff. You’ll never feel uncomfortable asking a patient about their bowel habits after you’ve cleaned up poo 500+ times, trust me.
Medicine also gives you the opportunity to do things you’d never dream of – in April 2017, I plan to go to Cuba for my final year elective where I will work in a hospital for 6 weeks where only Spanish is spoken (I only started learning in May…please wish me luck). Cuba has an amazing healthcare system which is very worth reading about, and I am so excited for the opportunity to experience this system on the front line.