An Update for Prospective Medical Students
By Connor @Becomingadr Team
If you are an aspiring medical student, you may have concerns about how the current international health crisis could affect your application to medicine. Becoming a Doctor is here to listen to your concerns, and where possible provide reassurance and answers.
Regarding applications for 2021 entry, the application deadline of October 2020 is unlikely to change. Therefor, it is important for candidates to do everything they can to craft their most competitive application.
Personal statements still need to be written, for which you can view the Becoming a Doctor Guide here. Remember that a key skill that medical schools look for is reflection. The current situation is an opportunity for students to reflect on their observations of global health, the NHS, their local communities and personal health.
Work experience is always a key component of a medical school application. However, in these unprecedented times, it is not realistic or safe to expect students to undertake NHS or community volunteering. Many students may have also had volunteering opportunities cancelled. Remember that all applicants for 2021 entry are in the same boat, and medical schools will judge applications accordingly. Alternatives to in-person volunteering do exist.
Firstly, there are some very exciting innovations in virtual work experience. Some medical schools, including Brighton and Sussex Medical School, now offer virtual work experience courses. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to admissions teams that you are aware of the ongoing global situation but are prepared to be flexible and innovative. Plus, with so many doctors’ clinical work now being conducted virtually, it is a chance to reflect on the importance of technology to 21st century healthcare.
Universities also consider non-medical work experience and volunteering alongside medical volunteering. There are many community level and national level initiatives recruiting volunteers, and ample opportunities for individuals to help those around them and society. Before volunteering, it is important to look after your own health and the health of those around you. If you are under eighteen, speak with your parents or guardians before signing up for volunteering initiatives.
The NHS has also recruited thousands of individuals as ‘Check-in and Chat Volunteers’. These roles provide short-term telephone support to individuals who are at risk of loneliness as a consequence of self-isolation. Currently you need to be over eighteen to volunteer with GoodSAM, but other local initiatives will likely exist.
With all volunteering and work experience, it is important to remember that medical admissions teams are looking for your observations, reflections and learning experiences, not just a list of your duties. It can be helpful to keep a journal, summarising your thoughts and feelings after each day. Another useful tool is to blog about your experiences. For more information, have a look at the Becoming a doctor guides on volunteering and personal statements.
Below we have summarised the latest statements from the governing bodies responsible for medical school applications.
All UK university applications are submitted through UCAS. The team at UCAS have been working tirelessly to devise a fair and practical solution for the cancellation of the 2020 summer exams. They, together with Ofqual, have come to a decision regarding students grades. Educational institutions will provide exam boards with information regarding the grade they believe you were most likely to achieve had exams happened normally and to rank their students, in order, within each of these grade boundaries.
Exam boards will consider multiple forms or evidence when grading students:
“non-exam assessment; the results of any homework assignments or mock exams; and any other records of student performance over the course of study” – Ofqual/20/6607/2
UCAS has also released the following statement:
“For those applying to higher education, we expect them to be treated fairly and consistently, and universities and colleges to consider these grades in the same way as any qualifications from previous years”
If you have concerns regarding your application or your grades, get in touch with your educational institution. Otherwise, you can contact UCAS directly here.
The most recent UCAT (previously UKCAT) statement was issued on 6th April 2020. They will be reviewing the situation on a daily basis here.
UCAT are refraining from making firm decisions until the UK government has reached a decision regarding the recommencement of the UK educational system. However, they currently expect UCAT testing to take place in 2020, albeit on a modified schedule. Bookings will likely commence later than usual, and the start of testing will be delayed until later in the year.
They recommend following UCAT on Twitter for immediate updates.
According to the latest from Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, there will be no change to the September 2020 BMAT examinations. Further information will be published here and on their Twitter, once it becomes available.
Updated 6th April 2020. For the latest GAMSAT updates, please view their website here.
In May 2020, the GAMSAT will be delivered online by remote proctoring. GAMSAT have released a video outlining the process. Candidates should have received an update from GAMSAT via email on the 30th March 2020 with instructions on how to register for online proctoring. Details on the options available to candidates can be found here.