Categories
The Application

Application Timeline for 2022 Entry

Explaining the timeline for Graduate Entry Medicine can sometimes be confusing – a lot of work happens the year/s before!

As of now (March 2021) this will be my (rough based on last year) timeline:

May 2021 – GAMSAT registration opens for September 2021 testing.

June 2021 – UCAT registration opens for 2021 testing (July – October).

July 2021 – UCAT testing begins.

September 2021 – GAMSAT testing.

October 2021 – UCAS deadline for Medicine & Dentistry applicants. UCAT testing ends.

November 2021 – UCAT results sent to universities. GAMSAT results released to September candidates.

December 2021 – Communication from Universities – Interview invites, pre-interview rejections and work experience evidence.

January 2022 – Interviews begin. GAMSAT registration for March 2022 opens.

February 2022 – Student Finance applications open for new students. Deadline is roughly the end of May 2022.

March 2022 – Offers and waiting lists begin being allocated. GAMSAT testing.

July 2022 – Most offers/ rejections sent out. Waiting lists still operate.

September 2022 – Waiting lists close and courses start for 2022.

Exceptions or other time constraints – work experience must be completed by the October 2021 UCAS application deadline to be counted towards your application total (e.g. Warwick University).

Some universities send correspondence throughout the application cycle, others operate under radio silence.

Categories
Uncategorized

Rebrand/ New Logo

I’ve now branched out onto just about all social media. It’s spurred me on to have a bit more of a professional image/ logo so, here it is!

Categories
Work Experience

HCA Interviews – What Will They Ask Me?

Recently, my temporary contract (from my redeployment) came to an end. My Trust and manager informed me that there would be permanent band 3 HCA posts being advertised shortly. In January, the posts were advertised on the NHS Jobs website. These were open to both internal and external applicants. They were also a different number of positions for all the wards, not only mine.

I filled in an application and sent it off. It took about 4 weeks before I was shortlisted and invited to interview.

There were some HR related issues and my interview was cancelled on the morning it was due and I was offered the permanent role by my manager instead. Which was very convenient for me.

However, I was able to find out some of the questions I would have been asked. All candidates that were going to be interviewed would have been asked the same questions and their interview performance assessed by people they did not know or work with. This meant there was a very real chance that if I had interviewed poorly, I might not have gotten the job I have been doing for the last 11 months. A really scary possibility and something my manager was not informed of either. (She was interviewing too but kept away from our interview panels. It would have been better for the ward managers to interview the candidates for their own wards, to know who would be a good fit for their team and patients.)

Regardless, HCA work is deemed the ‘gold-standard’ of work experience. It’s invaluable. It’s hands-on, patient care. It’s patient centred and the chance to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team. It really sets you up for all aspect of working within the NHS.

INTERVIEW:

Will I need one?

Yes, you will. Every band and role requires an interview.

Who will interview me?

This depends. For my interview it was a Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist, a Nurse Consultant from another ward, and a Ward Manager from another ward. Sometimes there will be HR involved or people who already do the job. Usually it will be a Ward Manager or Team Leader for the ward/ department.

Will the interview be in person or online?

I’ve know of interviews being held in both formats but mine was offered online via Microsoft Teams.

How long will it be?

Mine was scheduled for 30 minutes.

WHAT WILL THEY ASK/ LOOK FOR?

All the way through an NHS interview there will be questions that should allow you to showcase your skills and why you are best suited to the job.

WHY THIS ROLE/ DEMONSTRATE YOUR SKILLS?

For a HCA role, you’ll be prompted to draw on your precious experiences to demonstrate you’re a good fit and can do the job. For example: I had the experience from doing the job previously but they would still look for the aspects of being caring, compassionate and competent. Have you done a caring job before? Do you teach or mentor? All really transferable skills!

SCENARIO QUESTIONS:

So, the NHS/ Healthcare LOVE these. I find they’re often easier to answer as you can put yourself in that situation and explain what you’d do. You don’t have to necessarily find appropriate examples of previous skills.

A PATIENT ASKS FOR FOOD/ DRINK OUTSIDE OF THEIR MEAL TIMES, WHAT DO YOU DO?

This is quite a common question. A patient makes a request for something that you don’t know what to do with. How do you handle not knowing something?

Refer to their care plan. It’ll detail if they’re on any restrictions or special dietary requirements.

Check their food and fluid chart – they may have missed a meal or been a significant amount of time since they’ve had a drink/ low on hydration.

Most importantly – ask your team. You’re not completely on your own. The staff you work with may be experienced and able to guide you, that’s why we work as a team. It’s all about support. Always ask if you’re unsure. It may seem really simple such as someone is thirsty and wants a drink but I have previously worked with a patient who is on restricted fluids. They may also be restricted for medical reasons e.g. an upcoming appointment or due to medication.

YOU’RE IN AN MDT AND THE CLINICAL TEAM ARE MAKING A CHANGE TO A PATIENT’S CARE THAT YOU BELIEVE IS NOT IN THEIR BEST INTEREST. WHAT DO YOU DO?

Again, really common scenario. Linked with professional disagreement/ how to challenge professionally. You may be applying for a band 2 position or a band 8b, it doesn’t matter. Everyone should be able to work and communicate what is both safely and in the patient’s best interests.

You can professionally challenge ensuring you explain why you believe this is not in the best interests of the patient. Give examples, if you’ve worked with them before then that helps.

Suggest that this change be made temporarily or on a trial basis. This will show that you’re open to change but aren’t fixed to a permanent care plan change should it not work.

HOW DO YOU KNOW A PATIENT HAS DETERIORATED?

Classic!

Deterioration is anything below the ‘normal’ or baseline presentation of your patient. If you have worked with them for a long time, you’ll know what is normal and what is not. How do you tell if you don’t work with them? PHYSICAL OBSERVATIONS/ PHYSICAL HEALTH! Check their BP, Pulse, O2, temperature. Make sure it’s written up in their NEWS chart and any scoring escalate to the NIC. If significant scoring, the on-call doctor will review, if life threatening, always call 999.

Little signs such as a patient not looking well – colour being off, sleeping a lot, not quite themselves are all signs of deterioration. THIS IS HOW I ESCALATED AND HELPED TO DIAGNOSE THAT MY PATIENT HAD COVID LAST YEAR.

HOW DO MAINTAIN PRIVACY/ DIGNITY AND/OR CONFIDENTIALITY?

A very common question.

Privacy and dignity can be anything from washing/ bathing/ dressing/ changing clothes or dressings and ensuring the patient is covered or kept away from an audience.

If breaking bad news to a patient, ensure they’re in a private or quiet area so that they can process this and display their emotions without fear of people watching.

In mental health, incidents requiring physical restraint are usually handled by ensuring the patient, staff and peers are safe, if this occurs somewhere communal/ busy, clear out the area of non-essential staff and patients that don’t need to observe someone at their worst.

These are only a few examples and not a complete copy and paste of the questions I was due to be asked but very similar.

Be sure of your skills, show how much you care, know the priorities and values of the NHS. Most of all RELAX AND BE YOU! If you don’t know something, be honest but explain what your steps would be to solve the situation, despite not knowing/ how you would expand your knowledge for next time. 30 minutes might seem like a long time but it’s definitely not long enough to sell yourself completely!

Categories
UCAT

UCAT Score and Tips

Today I sat my UCAT exam and scored incredibly average – and I’m okay with that.

I was one of the first two people to sit it at the test centre as everyone else had the sense to book it for later on in the year. I was terrified, sat waiting to go in. I must admit, all the ladies in the test centre were absolutely lovely and supportive. They were asking questions about where I was applying and whether it was Medicine or Dentistry that I was interested in.

VR:
I ran out of time in the first section and didn’t get a chance to go back and review any questions, there were even some questions that I missed entirely. I was adamant that a good UCAT score was out the window now. It shook my confidence enough for me to wonder why I was even attempting this.

DM:
I found DM to be not too awful. I had time to go through and answer the questions, flag those that I wasn’t too sure of and come back and review them. I didn’t feel as pressured for time as I had done in VR.

QR:
My most dreaded section. I know the maths is not ‘challenging’ but I hate maths. Always have, always will. Again, I didn’t feel as pressured for time but definitely was conscious of how much time I spent on these questions and working things out. I felt relieved when I’d worked out calculations and the answer I had gotten was actually in the list of possible answers!

AR:
At first, I was really thrown by these. I couldn’t grasp the pattern between the sets and knew that if I couldn’t find it, that the next 4/5 questions would need to be educated guesses. Once I had gotten into the swing of the questions, I was able to identify patterns quite quickly and blitz through the questions. I then went back and ensured the ones I had guessed had a second look over.

SJ:
Situational Judgement was structured a little bit differently as to how I had practiced. I wasn’t too concerned with the section at all and managed to get through with time to spare.

Overall score:
VR: 580
DM: 640
QR: 670
AR: 660
TOTAL SCORE: 2550
SJ: Band 2

At first I was a little disheartened with my score. It wasn’t close to 3000 like you dream of. Then I was relieved. I had worried that I was going to do a lot worse and had originally said to myself that if I scored over 2500, I would be pleased. Warwick’s cut off for last year was 2570, which means I would need a decrease in cut off score to be in with a chance of an invite to interview. I then released how pleased I was with the score. The difference between an invite to interview and my score last year was 20 points. If I had scored 600 in VR, I would have 2570. My initial and practice scores on Medify were terrible. I had contemplated not taking the exam today and very nearly cancelled it to reschedule.

I know where my faults are – I should have revised sooner, I should have utilized timed practices, I should have booked the exam later and most importantly, I should have been more confident in myself!

At this moment in time, I was capable of an average score, that’s just below last year’s cut offs. If the worst case scenario happens and I don’t get offered an interview at Warwick, my GAMSAT prep is not sufficient enough and I don’t get interviewed at my other 3 choices, then I will be taking the UCAT next year and I KNOW that if I retake it again, I will be aiming for that 3000!

Tips:
Whilst you’re probably thinking what can I possibly learn from someone who scored terribly?

UCAT and Medicine applications each year are down to luck. A score of 2570 would have gotten you an interview last year whereas a few years ago, the cut off was closer to 2700.

Self-confidence is really important! Exams are scary. Especially when they’re the obstacle that’s in the way between you and your dream of studying Medicine. However, you want this and chances are, you’ve spent the time revising, you’ve learnt the test format and you have a brain in that head. Give yourself credit for attempting and embarking on this journey. You’re probably capable of more than you give yourself credit for.

Buy Medify for practice. My scores improved HUGELY with Medify. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it. If I have to take the exam next year, it’s the first purchase I’m making. Medify mimics the format and layout of the exam. There are minor differences but overall is the closest you’re going to get to the real thing. It’s also computer based so you can practice completing the test electronically instead of making the transfer from a book/ paper to a computer.

Flags are your friend – unlike American Football where a flag on a play is a bad thing, flags in UCAT are your friend. Time is definitely against you in some sections and instead of spending precious seconds struggling though for an answer on one question, flag it and return later. Don’t fall into the same trap that I did and run out of time – think of the precious points!!

It is recommended that you practice under test conditions – no noise etc. however, I found that I performed better with noise. A TV or another person sat in the room made a big difference. It also meant that when I sat the exam today, I wasn’t bothered by people getting up and leaving/ entering the room. It can be infuriating when you’re concentrating and the guy next to you is doing nothing but sighing because he’s hating his Driving Theory test..

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the score you were hoping for – I know I didn’t get that perfect number! Medicine is a challenge and its been made that way on purpose. There will be many people who will only dream of taking the exam. There will be some who take it and never do anything with it. There will be some who score exactly as you have and are proud to have achieved that! Remember it’s about the luck of the draw. If you don’t take the test and apply, you’ll never get that possibility of being offered a place. Getting a score that you’re disappointed with is not failure, it’s a stepping stone for your next attempt.