This student applied in the 2018/19 application cycle and therefore the selection process at Southampton may have changed since then. You should read all the information a University sends you about the selection process to get the most up to date details!
Remember to check out the glossary at the bottom of the page for our explanations of all the jargon we medical students like to use!
Course: Graduate entry
In person panel interview with group task
Admissions Tests: UCAT
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medicine?
I was in my third year of a biology and chemistry degree and was thinking about what I was going to do next. I realised that I wasn’t interested in any careers that I researched. I thought about what I really wanted from a job, and realised that a doctor ticked all the boxes. That’s when I started to research about doing medicine and discovered that graduate medicine was an option.
Back at sixth form, I didn’t consider medicine because I believed that I would never be good enough to be a doctor. My confidence grew over the next few years and I guess I was finally ready to consider it.
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
I was restricted to the few universities that do graduate entry medicine. I would not be able to afford a 5-year medicine course because SFE don’t provide funding whereas they do for graduate entry. I wanted to be within 2 hours of home so location then narrowed it down further. I wanted to avoid London. And then I wanted to avoid the GAMSAT and the BMAT and that narrowed it all down to 3 universities! I had to pick one in London in the end as a fourth choice!
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, Care work (e.g. in residential care), Employment as HCA in theatres. Volunteered as ward clerk in hospice.
How much work experience did you do?
My hospital shadowing was 1 week long – my supervisor was amazing and arranged multiple different departments to visit in that week (would recommend if possible!). I volunteered for a few hours on a weekly basis as a ward clerk at a hospice for a couple of months (I had to quit because I got a new full time job). If you are taking a year out, a year working in some form of care would be great for the personal statement. I worked in theatres full time as a support worker and loved it. I was there for 10 months before starting medical school. A negative would be if you got a job as a healthcare assistant and you didn’t enjoy it. That should not put you off doing medicine because being a doctor is massively different to the job as a healthcare assistant. If you don’t enjoy one it does not mean you won’t enjoy that other.
To get work experience in a hospital can be really really difficult. A lot of people manage it because they know someone who works as a doctor and they can get them in. If you know anyone, even if it is a your friend’s boyfriend’s second cousin or something, I would recommend asking if they could help you get work experience because it would cut the length of the process down a lot. If you really don’t know anyone, then apply to as many work experience schemes as you can and email consultants. It may be a long time before you get a reply or you may get none at all from some people. Don’t be disheartened – something will come off if you keep trying. Good luck!
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through asking someone I knew to take me on
During the application process…
What admissions test did you sit?
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT): https://www.ucat.ac.uk/
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
My friend had sat the UKCAT (now UCAT) a few years previously and didn’t do very well. The next year she sat it again and paid for a preparation course and that year she did extremely well. She told me how the course was super helpful. I decided to do the course as well because I wanted to give myself the best chance possible. The course really helped – a lot of the UKCAT is tactics and that was what the course did. I then did lots of practice questions putting those tactics in place. I would highly recommend doing something like that – there’s a good few options out there, you just need to consider the cost and quality of them (*this is one student’s opinion!)
What type of interview did you do?
Panel: This type of interview is a ‘traditional’ sit down interview where you’ll be interviewed by a group of people, usually academic tutors and doctors. This differs from an MMI interview, which is based around ‘stations’ which have themes or scenarios attached to them.
Group task: At Southampton, most interviews have a group task, where multiple candidates are interviewed together.
How did you prepare for your interview?
First thing I did was to make sure I knew what the interview set up was so I could tailor my preparation to what I was expecting. Mine had two parts. We knew the first part was a group task where we would be expected to discuss a topic – so I swatted up on key issues in the NHS and in the world, ethical dilemmas, etc. The second part was a panel interview – so I made sure I knew my personal statement and CV inside out. I had thought about some key things like work experience, volunteering, leadership roles, etc and how they showed my good qualities. (For example, don’t tell the interviewers that you are a good communicator, show them that you can adapt your communication styles effectively through your experiences of having to engage with different groups of people.) I also read around current affairs in case I was asked about my knowledge/opinions on them.
What happened during your interview?
There were two parts to my interview. The first was a group task where we had 15 minutes to discuss a topic that was given to us. There was 8 of us in the group and 2 moderators watching us. I remember feeling the pressure to say some interesting points so that I would be marked well. It became clear that there were such different personalities in the group that actually, you could be given merit in many different ways. I mean like, the loudest person in the group who talked a lot wouldn’t necessarily do well if they weren’t giving opportunities for others to talk (not being a team player). While if you didn’t speak much but came up with a few points that gave a different perspective, you could have done well. I was certainly one of the quieter ones but I made a couple of points and I asked one of the other quieter members what her specific experience was as she grew up in a different country. I think showing that inclusivity was good.
the second part was a panel interview with 2 interviewers. It was a big room with 8 interviews going on at the same time and it was luck of the draw which interviewers you would get. It sounded like most people found their interviewers quite friendly and I certainly found that with mine. The room was loud but you couldn’t hear what others were talking about so you were able to focus in on just your interviewers. The interviewers mostly asked questions about my personal statement and my experiences – which was nice because I knew I had a lot I could talk about and they would ask questions to explore the interesting bits further. This let me show my passion about certain things. Overall, they engaged well with what I had to say and the nerves did settle down after a while. I even cracked a few jokes which went down well! (But read the room!!!)
Clinical work experience: Not every student will complete clinical work experience before they apply to medical school. Don’t worry, this is not required to be able to apply. You can use non-clinical work experience (e.g. a caring role, like in a care home) or even reflect on paid work you’ve done (e.g. in customer service) in a productive way.
Insiders: Don’t worry if you don’t know people like this. Most students don’t have friends who have already been through the process or healthcare professionals that they know who might be able to support them. You can meet current medical students to speak to at open days, or via free mentoring schemes, but it’s not a requirement for you to be successful.
Graduate entry medicine: a pathway into medicine for students who have already received an undergraduate/Bachelors degree. Some universities require this previous degree to be related to medicine (E.g. Biomedical sciences or in another science) while others don’t. Graduate entry to medicine is available at less universities and is much more competitive, but is a good option if you don’t get into medicine straight from school, or only decide you want to be a doctor after you’ve already received your degree, or later on in your career.
Paid-for courses: Some students choose to pay for courses either online or in person to help them prepare for admissions tests and interviews. There is no evidence that they give you an advantage. There are good, free alternatives for preparation for admissions tests and interviews, and some offer bursaries and discounts to students who come from low income families. Check out our guides and uni websites for more details.