Applying to Medicine Conference 2021: Reflective Piece Competition Winners

27/03/2021

Following the success of our Applying to Medicine Conference on the 13th and 14th of February 2021, students had the opportunity to submit an entry for our Reflective Piece Competition.

The competition was open to everyone who tuned in to the conference across the two days. And with over 3,000 views, we received a great range of entries from students across the country.

Following thorough review and feedback, we are happy to report that the Top 10 entries were written by:

Congratulations to our Top 10 winners and massive well done to everyone who submitted! You can read the top submissions here. Please look out for future opportunities and check out our Essay Competition too!

Riya James, Year 12/S5 - The Becket School

I attended the ‘Overview of the application to medical school’ conference by In2MedSchool which exceeded my expectations. In2MedSchool is a valuable organisation connecting prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds to medical students and doctors. The lack of connections of disadvantaged students is a large part of why many struggle to get their place at medical school and receive the support needed. This conference reminded me of the caring people in medicine and gave me the support and knowledge I lack. It also introduced to me the amazing mentoring scheme and free resources they have, making me feel significantly more prepared and supported.

They covered facts combined with the personal advice of medical students who went through the application process themselves. Currently, accessing work experience and volunteering is difficult and the talks signposted us to various opportunities. Opportunities included the Medic Mentor work experience, St John ambulance etc. I understood the importance of reflecting and gathering lessons from my experiences rather than collecting as many shadowing placements as possible. I believe this understanding will enhance my application and help me in my future career, as reflection is a major factor. Student finance has been a confusing topic for me however the talk was straightforward and gave me a clearer idea and confidence. I will use the resources e.g. the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund website etc to research funding and other financial options to aid my journey.

On Day 2, Thivyaa’s talk surrounding welfare stood out to me. This conference was the first I have attended which addressed the stigma around mental health in medicine and a realistic insight of burnout, depression, taking care of yourself and how medical schools can help. Thivyaa sharing her experience of taking out a year to recover, coming back stronger and helping others inspired me to focus more on mental health. This was beneficial as the demands of medical school and the consequent effects on mental health have deterred many from pursuing their dream; the discussion showed how many students face mental health issues and the ways to overcome these e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy and smaller things like taking breaks. A quote which inspired me was ‘Only the wounded physician heals’, opening to me a different perspective of difficulties. Struggles do not mean you are undeserving of being a doctor but instead help you become both a better person and doctor as you can truly understand patients.

Mitra Yaqin, Year 12/S5 - Barnhill Community

In2medschool is an outstanding programme that gives you the opportunity to get an insight of the journey to medical school and provides salient advice. The event included a range of topics for instance, advice on ways to boost your application, advice on taking the UCAT and BMAT, advice on how to prepare for your interview and my favourite part was how they raised awareness to mental health which many programmes lack to mention.

This event was extremely helpful to me personally because not only did I gain a thorough knowledge on what to expect when applying to med school but I also gained an understanding of how universities differ in their teaching style and what university I think would suit my learning style the best, which previously I had no knowledge off. Moreover, another thing that I enjoyed greatly about this programme was how we were all able to participate as we could ask questions. Nevertheless, this programme included many speakers, this was very eye opening as each one of the speakers had different experiences and some of them even were graduate students who applied to medicine. This helped me realise that everyone's journey to med school is different and its okay if you don’t get the opportunity the first time because the doors are still open to you and you should never give up. Additionally, they talked about extra curriculum activities, getting jobs, taking a gap year and how each of them could benefit us, however other programmes and even schools fail to mention the benefits of a gap year and normally there is quite a lot of stigma around it but this programme enlightened me with the different benefits that comes with taking aa gap year which I lacked before.

Overall, this event was exceptionally helpful in expanding my knowledge about med school and I'm really glad that I got to be a part of this amazing opportunity as now I have a completely new perspective about the journey to med school.

Oscar Mason, Year 12/S5 - Chichester College

The In 2 Med School conference was an eye-opening weekend of information, personal experiences and overall help that has greatly improved my confidence on the application process for Medical School. Throughout the 2-day conference I was given an insight into what work experience will allow me to learn, a real understanding of how to structure my personal statement, and months’ worth of research into the BMAT and UCAT exams that await me this summer. Alongside this, I gained an evaluative look into what university will suit my learning abilities the most, not just prestige, but a real sense of pride, Knowledge and understanding for what I will accomplish.

Over the weekend I learnt most importantly that Universities are not just looking for applicants with good grades, but for real people who are striving forward to make such a valuable service, that much better, not only for ourselves, but for the millions of people who surround us. I have learnt that I need to not only look at myself as a student, but the values I hold the highest by reflecting on my progress every step of the way, by taking on challenges that will help me learn more and more about who I want to become.

This experience has humbled me and made me realise that good grades and only working hard for letters on a page are not going to get me as far as I would like. Instead, I need to be using my time carefully and meticulously to search for opportunities to make myself stand out from the crowd, to balance my academics with time for myself and most importantly, find activities that truly interest me, whether that be further reading, researching or practical work to engage me more and more every day.

Looking forward, I have already started to change the way I spend my time. I have done some in-depth research into the registering dates for the UCAT and BMAT, the months in which I can sit them and my college specific UCAS deadline. Furthermore, a friend and I have started a book club to encourage one another and other friends interested in similar goals to read and take real interest in Medicine from its day-to-day core as well as organising my daily life to work around the time for myself, exams and my future.

Zoha Imtiaz, Year 12/S5 - Campion School

Applying to study medicine is an arduous process, riddled with tasks to complete in order to satisfy the requirements universities have set. Many applicants do not have access to support systems that can aid them through this taxing process, and the internet cannot be relied on heavily due to the difficulty that comes with shifting through the search engines. Fortunately, the In2MedSchool conference was dedicated to the process of applying to medical schools with anecdotes from current medical students.

In my perspective, this was an extremely useful conference as it encouraged applicants to breakdown the application into sections. Prior to this conference, the application process seemed unachievable as there is an immense amount to do in a short period of time, alongside maintaining academic excellence. However, the conference helped me perceive it as more achievable as it aids students in setting achievable targets for the upcoming months. I now know that from January to July I should be focusing on obtaining work experience, voluntary work and aspiring for top grades; and during the summer holidays I should revise for the UCAT and BMAT and structure my personal statement. This splitting of tasks has improved my mental health as it will help me avoid stress and procrastination as the work will be more manageable. As there is a time frame, I can now appropriately focus my efforts on each task, which in turn will increase the quality of my work.

Additionally, the conference discussed how to choose medical schools. Many current medical students relayed that this is a hurdle they fell on as they had no knowledge on how to strategize their applications. Therefore, there was an emphasis on researching medical schools and reviewing the criteria on which they base offers on. This has encouraged me to dedicate time on reflecting on my strengths and weaknesses and researching universities with criteria which are suited to my strengths. For example, I am uncertain how I will perform in the entrance exams, and this in turn has enabled me to filter my research into universities as I am now finding universities who do not prioritise these as much as others.

In essence, this conference helped the application process seem less daunting and to some extent more tangible. I have developed an action plan which now ensures my efforts go into tasks which increase the probability of receiving an offer from a university.

Beata Aliasevic, Year 12/S5 - Beauchamp City Sixth Form

Prior to attending the conference, I had a limited understanding of the medical application process. I was aware of the competitive nature of the course, however I was very unsure of the realities of the application and what was required from an applicant in order to achieve success. The coordinators of the conference provided a very realistic and open overview of what applying to medicine is truly like. Since I have not previously communicated with anybody who had already been through the medical

application process, it was quite overwhelming to hear about everything which was required from aspiring medics. This realization was crucial to me. As well as providing advice regarding success, it also helped me to consider my options if I were to fail, which is very important to understand in such a competitive process. The conference was very well organised; each section regarding the application process was very detailed and provided lots of advice on how to strengthen your application. After attending the conference I managed to devise a detailed plan of how I was going to work towards optimising each necessary element which builds up a successful application. Leaders of the conference went above and beyond to discuss specific tasks and helpful organisations which we could benefit from. After attending the conference, I got the opportunity to have my first meeting with my In2MedSchool mentor to further discuss the application process in personal relevance. By virtue of this, the conference and the organisation as a whole has helped me to structure my goals and gain more confidence in applying into medical school. In addition to these benefits, the conference also went on to discuss further aspects of medicine which many people do not consider such as mental health. It is extremely important to be aware of topics such as this in order to know what you are committing to, and by discussing the conference with my peers in its aftermath I noticed that many were shocked by the statistics presented regarding mental health in medicine. Inviting passionate speakers to discuss their personal experiences was a fantastic way of bringing the conference to life while maintaining realism. The advice given to applicants in this conference went beyond enlightenment regarding academic excellence and impressing universities. I would strongly recommend every aspiring applicant to participate in the events put forward by the devoted In2MedSchool team.


Emma Shixin Fair, Year 11/S4 - Whitmore High School

Hundreds of prospective doctors, including myself, attended live conferences organised by In2MedSchool. Over 2 days, a variety of speakers presented their thoughts on the fundamental areas of a career in medicine, such as how to construct a UCAS application. The talks were interweaved with brief but informative Q&A sessions, which the audience was active in partaking in, albeit perhaps not listening to all responses and occasionally asking the same questions again. Throughout the conferences, I took screenshots of slides where lists of resources would be provided. Initially, I was keen to listen and gain clarity in topics that other conferences I attended previously hadn’t touched upon. The interview process was the most daunting obstacle for me. Moreover, I was intimidated by the innovation in many of the audience’s questions and it plummeted my confidence in my ability to pursue a career in medicine, as I lacked either the skill to think outside the box or the inherent curiosity to find out more. The talks were always on schedule so that was impressive and ensured each topic would be covered as intended. Afterwards, I was still unsure about the different course structures and how I would choose my universities strategically.

The conference’s purpose was to give a holistic overview of the admission and life in medical school which justifies why I wouldn’t be completely satisfied with every stage of the process. It was acknowledged that how to optimise the summer of year 12 was one of the more important points and the constant reference to the timeline of when to do the different tasks helped me understand that some opportunities will only present themselves with time. For example, right now, I can study hard for my science GCSEs so I not only achieve top grades for my application but also ensure my foundation is solid for A-level and to prepare for the second section of the BMAT. However, I can’t prepare a personal statement, reflecting on volunteering I haven’t done yet. Thus, I will look out for future events and stay in contact with In2MedSchool in the possibility I sign up to the mentoring programme. I will increase my general knowledge of medicine through further reading; I am currently in chapter 3 of The Checklist Manifesto. This will give me more to discuss when I practice interviews and will encourage critical thinking so I develop the skill of devising effective questions.

Ayomide Akinsinmide, Year 12/S5 - Caludon Castle School

I attended In2MedSchool’s 2-day virtual conference aimed at increasing knowledge of the application process for prospective disadvantaged year 12 and year 13 students, like myself. After being received with a hearty welcome talk, the first day covered the UCAS application process, finances, work experience & alternatives, personal statements, interviews and offers along with a dedicated closing Q&A. Initially, I felt excited and intrigued for the day at hand since I was already familiar with I2MS. Undeniably, I can say that as the talks progressed, these positive feelings only amplified. After being welcomed in the same manner, the next day involved admission tests, how to select a medical school, mental health, how to deal with rejections and another lengthy Q&A. After experiencing the thrill of day 1, I knew day 2 was not going to disappoint and truly it was also very nicely organised and well-paced. Both days were filled with a plethora of speakers including medical students, doctors and I2MS’s founder, Brian Wang. I found this useful as it allowed me to receive an abundance of perspectives into the various routes and experiences of medical school. The sheer detail of each individual talk also ensured that I was provided with a high quantity and quality of information which I believe serves as a huge advantage for an aspiring medic, such as myself, in the run-up to the October 15 deadline later this year. It also provided information on important elements of medical school such as managing mental health, dealing with social experiences and even the commonly favoured Gibbs’ reflective cycle that I am writing this with. However, despite both days being well-structured, I would have preferred if each individual talk had its own complete Q&A session rather than a collective closing one. Upon reflection, I realised that this could have been because questions can sometimes overlap and so the repetition of such was trying to be avoided however I do feel as if it could have been more beneficial and impactful if done in the former way rather than the latter. Regardless of this, the conference has given me invaluable insight into the application process and provided me with future actions I need to take to enhance my application, e.g., resources to use for the admission tests and further reading suggestions.

Ahmed Abbas, Year 12/S5 - King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys

A reflection on my two days at the ‘In2MedSchool conference’

Over the course of a single weekend, I have gained a lot of knowledge and now feel more confident with my medical application. I was fortunate enough to attend all eight talks and am now writing about my experience.

On the first day, we were given a brief overview of UCAS applications, personal statements and work experience/volunteering opportunities. This has given me the motivation to write the best possible personal statement and has encouraged me to find voluntary work in a hospital. Furthermore, we went through the different types of interviews which we may encounter such as panel interviews and multiple mini interviews (MMI). Before the conference, I felt rather anxious about how the interview process is structured but I now feel more comfortable. Additionally, we were taught about the financial aspects of applying to a medical school and I found it useful to learn about the various loans and grants that are available to support my journey.

On the second day, we were given an overview of the different entrance examinations required by the various medical schools. I will use this information to set sensible and achievable goals when thinking about applying for multiple universities. In addition, learning about the different forms of campus lifestyles has encouraged me to take on this challenge. One particular aspect which caught my attention was how the medical students normalised taking a gap year to focus on mental health and other hobbies. My favourite talk over the whole course was Thivyaa’s emotional and inspiring journey; she spoke with true confidence and illustrated the types of thoughts that students may face on a daily basis. Her speech was heart-touching and made me realise how essential mental health actually is. Following on from this I started volunteering as a listener for 7cups mental health organisation to provide support for those people who suffer with mental health issues whilst maintaining confidentiality and working on my professionalism.

I learned about the foundations of the application process on the first day whilst the second day provided me with the chance to learn more about the challenges faced by medical students. In conclusion, the two-day conference has left me feeling positive and reassured about my application to medical school. I am grateful for this cherishable, optimistic and motivating opportunity led by medical students with similar backgrounds and aspirations.

Isobel Elphick, Year 12/S5 - Hardenhuish school

I attended the conferences on both the 13th & 14th of February. I was really excited to learn more about the application process, but also a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect from the talk. I thought that it could be a really good opportunity to gain application tips.

Something that went really well was that I gained so much knowledge about what to do if you don’t get in to medical school first time, and I felt so reassured by this. I could have gotten more out of it if I had asked more questions via slido, which was a great opportunity.

Overall the weekend was amazing. I learnt so much about BMAT, UCAT, rejections and being a doctor, and the main take home message was that if you want to do medicine, you will find a route and way that works for you. I really needed to hear that.

This work experience, just from seeing the hosts interact taught me how integral good communication is in medicine, and overall gave me greater insight into the roles of a medical student. It has given me so much to reflect on, and even shown me how to reflect better, which will be amazing for my application.

Doing this webinar highlighted to me my own motivation to become a doctor, but also showed me I what I need to do to get there- like researching more about admission tests. Next time I would definitely try to get more involved by asking questions.

To learn more about admission tests, I will look out for the next in2medschool webinar on that topic, and to get more involved I will attend some of their other webinars. I have learnt so much already from in2medschool, so feel as though this would be a good way to find out more.

Joel Ezana, Year 12/S5 - Hills Road Sixth Form College

I found this event highly useful and gave me a more crystal view of what applying to a medical school is like, the common misconceptions and requirements. Moreover, I gained a better understanding from more experienced people; these were mostly medical school students so it was well presented.

The event started off with an introduction before embarking on the UCAS application process and things to look out for. I found this partly useful as I had some previous knowledge on the subject requirements and personal statement. However, the application fee information as well as conditional/unconditional offers were new to me and made me aware of how competitive medicine is as a postgraduate degree. What I found most useful was how I can submit a different personal statement for my fifth subject (something I am considering) as it would be tailored and keep all course options open. Moreover, I had been uncertain as to whether the final A level grades were counted for your UCAS application however this was elucidated by one of the students- only predicted grades are relevant.

Another interesting part of the event was the finances and grants talk. I had been introduced to the “student financial calculator” and I later had a look at this on the Gov.UK website. Unlike the other talks, this one was most unique as I have never had to worry about managing my money. Similarly, maintenance loans were something else that was new to me and I also found more about this on the internet and the factors (e.g. household income, place of residence) that influence it. I also found out what makes you eligible for the student finance application and how I can hold my application for it 9 months after 22nd May giving me more leeway in case I will need it in the future. Finally, the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund was mentioned to us which could be an alternative way of accessing a student loan.

The last talk I found interesting was work experience, although I didn’t learn as much from this as all the experience mentioned is not currently available, and some was online. I understood giving dates would be very difficult however I was given several hospital-based charities, movies, and events to look out for. Finally, the importance of reflection in my personal statement were well emphasised.