Categories
The Application

Where to Apply to This Year?

Last year, I applied to Nottingham, St George’s, Swansea and Warwick. All these programmes were the graduate entry, 4 year route (A101).

I’m starting to think about whether I would change my approach this year. It’s still early days and some medical schools have yet to finalise their 2022 entry requirements.

Nottingham A101:
2020 entry cut off: 55
2021 entry cut off: 58 (Rounded up the Notts scoring method)

St George’s A101:
2020 entry cut off: 58
2021 entry cut off: 60

Swansea A101:
2020 entry cut off: 60
2021 entry cut off: 62

Warwick A101:
2020 entry cut off: 2570
2021 entry cut off: 2720 (+/- depending on what you read and where…)

As you can see, there’s been some increases in admission exam cut offs. This is where the difference of an overall score point, makes all the difference and let’s not talk about Warwick’s huge, 150 point increase for their UCAT cut off this year.. I know a lot of people told me that an application will never be a waste but coming straight off the 2020 entry and into 2021 applications made me feel depressed. I knew there was a strong chance of increased cut offs and this is exactly what’s happened this year. I doubt that I would have been interviewed by any of these universities had I applied again for this year – hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Do I apply for the same places?

I’m still considering all 4 year, GEM programmes. As Warwick require the UCAT and the results are given on the day, if I score less than 2750/2800, then I risk being too low for Warwick, meaning it’s a wasted application. So.. Step up Ulster University! They’re in the process of interviewing for 2021, which is their first ever cohort for their graduate programme. Reading through threads and research, the GAMSAT cut off for 2021 was 55/56. A very obtainable score, similar to Nottingham, making them a really suitable place.

If I score high enough for Warwick, I will still consider exchanging Swansea (historically high GAMSAT cut offs) or St George’s (London living expenses), for Ulster. Ulster have become quite a favourite for me whilst researching the campus, the course and the location of Northern Ireland!

Why Ulster?

Ulster are a brand new medical school and 2021 will be their first cohort. A lot of people would see a new medical school as a bad thing however, it’s far from negative.

Their GAMSAT cut off has been amongst the lowest for graduate entry (similar to Nottingham).

The course is overseen and linked with St George’s in London. If on the rare occasion that Ulster do not get accreditation from the GMC, then you will receive a degree from St George’s University London instead. Essentially, the worst case scenario, is a degree from a university I would have applied for anyway. It’s the same course, qualification but without the London living costs.

Location-wise, Northern Ireland is a bit of a change but by no means impossible. Other than the initial moving fees, Derry/Londonderry is affordable and a beautiful place to live! If I have to relocate around the country anyway, why not Northern Ireland?

Will this change?

Probably! Let’s face it, UCAS opens next month, GAMSAT registration opens next month and UCAT registration opens in June. The deadline for UCAS is October (usually the 15th). That’s a long time off just yet!

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
gamsat

Post-GAMSAT Results

As predicted, on the 8th November, September 2019 GAMSAT results were posted and I woke up to the email that we all dread to receive. I spent the morning pondering on whether I would even open my results or spend my next few weeks being in blissful ignorance. I was taking that long deciding what to do that I was running late for work.

Within the first 40 minutes at work, I was being pestered to open my results. When I was asked why I didn’t want to, people seemed shocked to hear that if my score didn’t meet the minimum cut offs, then 3/4 of my universities would be sending me rejections. I knew applying to so many GAMSAT universities was a gamble and up until this point, my only UCAT (previously UKCAT) university had been my only realistic choice.

Of course, I finally caved into peer pressure and was welcomed with the following scoring:
S1: 55
S2: 66
S3: 50
Total score: 55

I was thrilled! I’d improved in every section with the most being my section 3 result by up to 12 points! Overall an improvement on March by an overall score of 7. I had been told that there was no way you could improve to this level.

So, what did this mean going forward? All 4 of my university choices for medicine are still in play. Whilst my scoring is low and on the cusp of some, it’s not unheard of to get in with a GAMSAT score of 55. I also hold an MSc qualification which goes in my favour.

My Universities:

Nottingham – Last years cut off was 55. With Nottingham’s sensible and more lenient scoring (S1+S2+S3/3) I’m actually given a higher score of 57. Last year this would have gotten me an interview. As the percentiles this year are very similar to last, I’m hoping to just manage to get in with this.

St George’s, London – I don’t have high hopes for meeting SGUL’s cut off this year however, I’m not too bothered as the cost of living and studying in London could be a huge obstacle for me anyway.

Swansea – Swansea have had quite high cut offs and I imagine it’s due to their success in the league tables. I am sure they’ll reject me due to GAMSAT score.

Warwick – My only UCAT university and previously my only hope of getting into medicine this year. With a score of 2550 and band 2, it’ll be close as last years scoring was 2570. Again, I’m fortunate to have my MSc as good backing. The 2570 was the minimum score an undergraduate degree holder candidate got interviewed with, there is no say as to what the minimum score for PhD/ MSc holders was and I’m hoping this will swing in my favour as the higher qualifications are awarded greater points.

Waiting Game:

Last year Nottingham sent work experience request forms to all candidates that met their cut off on the 21st November 2019. I’m hoping to hear back from them this week to know if I’ve met their GAMSAT cut off and whether they are interested in interviewing me. I shouldn’t have any problems with my work experience and have all my references already gained.

Warwick advertise that they open their interview booking by the 3rd December. Again, it should only be a matter of time before they let applicants know whether they have met the minimum UCAT cut off and have satisfactory work experience to be invited to interview.

Swansea and St George’s will be letting applicants know of the cut offs shortly.

Food for thought:

Whilst everyone wishes for a GAMSAT score of over 70 or a UCAT score of 3000+ and Band 1, at the end of the day, if you make the minimum cut off then you’ll be invited to interview. I have found that the road to medicine is difficult and there as so, SO many hurdles to overcome, especially when Graduate Entry Medicine is extremely competitive. There are going to be failures and set backs.

I would love to be interviewed for Warwick and Nottingham and would be honored to be offered a place to study medicine at either! I’m incredibly humbled to be sat with a GAMSAT score I’m pleased with and still have a shot with my application for GEM 2020 entry.

Categories
UCAT

UCAT 2019 Final Scores

On the 7th October, the UCAT Consortium released the final statistics and results for 2019 testing. As the interim results had shown, 2019 took a slight decrease from the average and the 2018 scores.

The 2019 scores are as follows:
Verbal Reasoning: 565
Decision Making: 618
Quantitative Reasoning: 662
Abstract Reasoning: 638
Total Mean Score:: 2483

My Scores:
VR: 580
DM: 640
QR: 670
AR: 660
Total: 2550

Compared to the mean:
VR: +15
DM: +22
QR: +8
AR: +22
Total: +67

My percentile was calculated at 62%, meaning that I scored higher than 62% of the 29,375 candidates who stat the UCAT this year – a total of 18,213 people.

That’s great right?!

Yes, it’s great. For a first time UCAT taker and Grad Med applicant, that is a good score. My only Uni choice that will take the UCAT is Warwick and whilst I was close to their lowest cut off last year, there is still a chance that I won’t make it for this year. The positives that I have are that I am above the average for VR. I will then be scored on being in the 62nd percentile and given extra points for holding a masters qualification. Hopefully, this will give me an advantage over those with a slightly higher UCAT score and only an undergraduate degree.

 

What’s Next?

My reference came back earlier this week and I only need to perfect my personal statement and then submit my application to UCAS. After that, it’s a waiting game! I’m confident with my work experience and I have met the required minimum hours that Warwick are looking for, this will need to be submitted before selection takes place. Warwick have confirmed that selection dates for interview between the 17th-19th December. Of course, Warwick and the UCAT are only one of my options. I still have 3 GAMSAT universities in play although I do NOT feel confident about my GAMSAT score! I fully expect 3 outright rejections and should the case be that I am also rejected from Warwick (which is highly likely) I’ll be more than happy to admit defeat for 2020 entry. I will however, be back in the running for another application cycle for 2021!

Keep positive, realistic and work hard!

Categories
gamsat UCAT

Revision Sunday’s..

I was up early this morning and finished my first ever run through of Friends from start to finish. I’m both heartbroken and thrilled; heartbroken it ended and thrilled to watch it all again! 🙂

My housemate, Lauren finished her MSc a few months ago and gave me her flip chart paper for revision, which was really kind!

I’ve started using a random quote generator and began to ‘brainstorm’ my ideas around it. Pros and cons, what the quote means, what the quote is telling you, whether I agree or disagree.

Hoping to get into the habit of analysing quotes and it almost becoming second nature. I used to love English at school and did really well at GCSE. Throughout my degrees, essays have been a big part of my learning so I do feel quite confident with the structure and building of an essay.

I’m hoping to also crack on with some science revision too. I’m thinking Physics as I truly detested it at school so will definitely need to begin from scratch!

A positive day for revision! 🙂