Sunday, February 9, 2014

Medical School Interview, Job Applications, and etc!

I was hoping to get a bit more free time to make some posts. I am either busy catching up with work, or dead tired. So I will be addressing many things in this post.

1) Medical School Interviews

I know I'm a bit late with this, but hopefully most of you have seen my older posts on tips for medical school interviews. Because I had my interviews back in 2008, I'm not as "updated" as others out there as I'm sure the system has changed. In regards to my particular medical school, we still run the standard panel of 3 interviewing 1 applicant. Each applicant has 20 minutes. Here are some quick tips, which I have mentioned before:

  • Reflect on your experiences. Integrate reflection of your past activities into your interview questions. It is one thing to answer the question with one word, but show us an example of when you had shown "this" particular skill or a particular experience where you learned something that helps you be a strong applicant
  • Dress smartly - I'm not kidding you...I have seen some applicants turn up in a wrinkled shirt and creased trousers. I guess I don't have the right to judge someone's dress, but this is an interview for a very competitive spot in medical school. You need to impress and the first thing the interviewer sees, is you and how you carry yourself and what you're wearing. Yes we shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but why start an uphill battle before you have even sat down in front of the panel. 
  • Medical schools want to find out more about your personal qualities that they couldn't get from your personal statement. This is your time to shine in an interview. Some schools allow the interviewers to have read the applicant's personal statement before they come in for their interview. Expand on it.
  • Confidence. Yes it is very nervous time, but you need to put on your confident face. Deliver your answers confidently. Don't sound unsure as these are questions about yourself. You shouldn't be unsure of your own personal qualities/experiences/achievements.
  • Give succinct answers aka don't beat around the bush, yet try not to give very short answers as that means the interviewer will need to come up with more questions to ask you...
  • Think your answers through before answering. You don't lose any points sitting for 30 seconds to think over your answer. Think the interviewers appreciate it more if you gave a structured succinct answer. 
  • Back to basics: eye contact, try not to fidget while sat in your seat (trust me the interviewers notice it and it is quite distracting), and try to smile (it just makes the process seem so much less dreary and gloomy)
  • I remember before going into my interview I told myself it is just questions about myself. I know myself best and no one knows me better than me. Interviewers (from what I have experienced) aren't out there to catch you out. They honestly want to know more about you and see if that personal statement matches the applicant who sits in front of them. 20 minutes isn't a long time to make that judgement, so as an applicant you don't have much time to get your personality across.
2) Job Applications

Right this biggest pain up the backside you'll face in your final year. Why is it a pain? It is because you're trying to focus on passing your finals, then this FPAS application crops up a few months prior so you're trying to revise yet do your job application correctly. The first step of job applications is filling out your basic details, your degree details/any additional degrees, if you are going for an academic job you have to answer 3 questions where you have 250 (?) words to answer, and then rank your deaneries which are based on regions. You have to rank all 26 or so regions, so you cannot opt out of certain regions. That means doing it strategically as well. Obviously London will be extremely competitive and you'll need to be realistic about your score and whether you can keep up with the rest of the country to get that job. You'll need to have in mind your "backup" region in case things don't go so well. 

Once you submit your application, there are these exams called the "Situational Judgement Test". It is 2.5 hour exam on ethics and being a good doctor. They give you a bunch of scenarios and you have to rank in order or select the best 3 things you should do. It's not exactly an exam you can study for, but it is worth practising. There are lots of books for sale. I personally used MedGrad book "Situational Judgement Test for the Foundation Years Programme 2nd Edition" and found it to be really accurate and similar to the paper itself. It also has really good explanations with the GMC guidance alongside for your reference. It's not cheap, but I thought it really helped me prepare for the SJT. I started practising approximately 2 weeks prior to the exam so it's not something you need to spend a lot of time on. Think the main thing to keep in mind that this exam is about what you SHOULD do, not what you would do.

Once SJT is over, we don't get our results until we find out about our deanery allocation in March, but the wait isn't that painstaking since there are finals to think about! As usual this year jobs have been oversubscribed so we'll see how that goes - fingers crossed.

3) Other Things - Update

So like the title of my blog - life of a medical student is pretty crazy...and I should just rename it to "hectic". I'm now on my final run of placements before end of medical school. Pretty crazy to think about that. It's just now working on skills that are needed for an F1, so that means not going to clinic or theatre and spending majority of my time on the wards and doing jobs. Bit weird to be honest. I always have this temptation to go down to theatres for a nosy.

What has been happening right after exams? I had another rotation in Orthopaedics as we all know you can't get enough of Orthopaedics. It was a really good attachment. Got a lot of theatre time and clinics peppered in between. Scrubbed loads of times and got to work on my surgical skills. Still got all my fingers as well - that's always a bonus. Now in my final year, I've finally really grasped this "pro-active" concept of things and think it has really helped. Instead of waiting to be asked to do something, I offer to do it first or just go off and get it done. Seems to go down well and I've gotten a lot more opportunities to do things and be more involved. Think it helps with gaining trust from the registrar/consultants. Also still managed to stay true to myself and continue to be really personable with the other team members (e.g. consultant, registrar, SHOs, etc). We are all human at the end of the day and no one likes to talk about work all the time. Gotten to know a few more registrars and a few consultants while sat in the coffee room in between cases and just makes the experience more enjoyable. Of course this is after gauging the other person's personality and how open they are. I know when to keep my beak shut and just be really quiet. So far the consultants I have encountered are pretty talkative and really laid back so quite lucky in that sense.

I shall give you all a break! Long enough post I believe! Sorry again for lack of year just seems to be that much more hectic...somehow.