Academic excellence is not the only criteria for a successful application. It is important for you to demonstrate your motivation towards a career in medicine and show evidence that you will be able to acquire the values of the NHS (including: working together for patients, respect and dignity, compassion, commitment to quality of care, resilience). You will begin to acquire these values, in part, through people-focused work experience or volunteering.
It is essential that you develop an understanding of working in a healthcare environment and have commitment and passion towards studying and practising medicine. The types of experience that we advise you to undertake include voluntary work in a nursing home, care home, hospice or hospital volunteer. We cannot advise on the amount of experience that is needed to develop your knowledge of healthcare practice. At interview, though, we will expect a sophisticated level of understanding of how personal qualities relate to the provision of effective care and support. This must be evidenced, in part, through your own experiences. Shadowing of doctors is not required and, though it has its benefits, we advise that you should participate actively in a healthcare setting.
We recognise that extracurricular activity in areas outside of healthcare can supplement the development of the broader qualities required of a potential doctor. These aspects (e.g. an ability to make rational decisions and to communicate these with compassion) will also be relevant to successful performance at interview. The types of non-academic experiences that may assist in your personal development include a job in a customer-focused role or a voluntary role giving you responsibility for a group of individuals (such as a leader for one of the youth organisations like the scouts or guides or a sports coaching role). In general, these activities should be long-term, on-going and involve significant interactions with a broad range of people in a responsible capacity.
In summary, all of these non-academic aspects are important for preparation to study medicine and many will be considered at interview. The personal statement will not normally be used to select for interview, though we will be concerned if there is little evidence of engagement with healthcare practice and other extra-curricular activities.
The Medical Schools Council has produced guidance on work experience and the development of attitudes and behaviours.
If invited for interview, candidates may be asked to provide details of their work experience placements.
Preparation for interview and indeed for study on a medicine course is aided by engaging in frequent discussions with friends and family about medical issues appearing in the news and media. You should also use your time on work experience effectively by gaining insight into the demands placed on staff, the problems they encounter and the strategies that they employ to handle difficult situations as well as the benefits they obtain from caring for people and working in teams. Again, opportunities to engage in discussion of these issues must be taken.
The Medical Schools Council has produced a statement on the core values and attributes needed to study medicine.
Some of these are assessed in the mechanisms used to identify applicants for interview (described below). Our interview process will address many more of these, including: self-insight, reflection, problem-solving, dealing with uncertainty, communication, teamwork, resilience, empathy and honesty. In common with all organisations selecting people to work in the NHS, our recruitment is values-based.