Thread: Still working out the basics!
07-02-2011, 11:51 PM #1
Still working out the basics!
As you can see, I'm brand new to this website. Sorry to introduce myself by asking a whole load of questions; here's hoping I can contribute back in time, too!
Little bit of background.
I have just accepted that the only path I want in life is to become a doctor, applying for 2012 entry (missed 2011). I could've done so straight from school as I was fortunate enough to gain the grades but I knew I didn't have the life experience or emotional maturity. I did one 12 hour shift in a care home when I was 15 which emotionally broke me--I just wasn't prepared for it back then.
I graduated from Edinburgh with an undergrad (integrated) Master of Chemistry degree, class 2.1, in 2009; I'm now 24. Currently, I work in the City. In 10 years time, I could be earning far more than I ever would as a doctor. But I can genuinely say that I've realised that that doesn't matter to me and that I truly do want to become a doctor.
As I've tried to ignore my desire up till recently, I'm just now trying to get to grips with the basics of actually getting IN to a medical degree.
The big thing I'd like advice on is work experience.
I'm struggling to find appropriate experience in London. Applied to St Barts for the trolley service but haven't found any HCA positions etc. Does anyone have any tips for experience in London? I've tried NHS jobs but I'm honestly stuck.
Practically, I need to continue in my current job to pay some of my debt off so weekend work would be perfect at first. Should I having done 3 months full-time work as a phlebotomist before I send off my UCAS form on 15 October this year?? This is totally escaping me--the amount, the type of work...
I hope this isn't too long winded, just felt it'd be nice to introduce myself a little bit. I'd really be grateful for any help afforded to me and apologies if I've just shown how naive I am!
Last edited by alancam; 08-02-2011 at 12:02 AM.
08-02-2011, 12:15 AM #2
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
- Oval, London
My goodness you sound like me. A year ago I was 24 with an MSci in Maths & Physics, working in the City and thinking "I'd be so much richer if I didn't want to be a doctor...".
Anywho, I'd advise asking King's College Hospital for work experience. When I was looking I found them to be the only hospital who were willing to give work experience to anyone (most others seemed to limit their placements to kids at a particular school, or people registered at a particular job centre etc). After much begging, I eventually ended up getting to spend a week in Cardiothoracic Surgery there (which, by the way, was AWESOME). I took a week's holiday to do this, it's something that I'd recommend doing for sure.
It's also worth getting involved in some long term volunteering such as St John Ambulance - you learn first aid and get lots of experience treating the public, which is great to talk about in an application.
Getting full time paid work in healthcare would be great for your application, but just be aware that jobs are hard come by - as you've already experienced! I think the only thing you can do really is to keep an eye on NHS Jobs, although it might be worth asking hospitals directly.
08-02-2011, 12:34 AM #3
Not sure what area on London you’re in, but I have been doing ward volunteering for the past few years at Kingston hospital.
Also have you consdiered being a Community First Responder?
Stick around on the forums, the there is a good deal of knowledge on here, and even more important a fantastic support group. Being a mature applicant, its frequently a lonely confusing slog, as your outside the school/uni support groups that the younger applicants have.
08-02-2011, 01:22 AM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
Funny you should mention phlebotomy...
Often it's a difficult to fill role at the weekends. Perhaps trying to get one of these jobs might be ideal? I have a good friend who did it most Saturdays and Sundays through med school to help pay the way. You would need to train midweek though - this would involve use of your holidays.
Speak to them if you are interested (often co-ordinated out of the haematology department). It is a good job from the point of view of experience. You will spend a few minutes each day with lots of patients - you can learn how to quickly develop rapport, inspire confidence (probably through trial and error, tbh ).
But your experience doesn't really need to be medical - a caring role is often considered in good light. Volunteer for AGE UK or something similar. What you need is people experience and to chat to a few Drs. Patient contact is not necessary (but can be very helpful if you want some personal reassurance about a MAJOR decision)."The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism" (Sir William Osler)
10-02-2011, 11:29 PM #5
Thank you all for your replies! Sorry for taking so long to reply--this working malarky does sometimes take up quite a bit of my time!
I'll pop off an email to King's today, thanks for letting me know. Just found a brochure on Imperial's site, so will try and contact them, too. And "my goodness" is certainly the phrase--cardiothoracic surgery would definitely be my aim, too! I guess I can't get away from the love of competition.
Holidays are written off this year for experience and open days, so no worry there!
I've signed up for NHS Jobs, here's hoping. That said, I really should stay in this job for a bit pay off some of my consumer debt since I'll likely put myself in £50k of debt thanks to the new fees!
I wasn't aware of the community response team, so many thanks for this. Have you had experience with this? My cousin actually works for St John's, can't believe I had no idea.
You've hit the nail on the head re: support. Having had that support in school, I thought it'd all be the same and be real easy. Naive! Just wait until I start having panics about teaching formats, university choices, funding (argh!) and the rest. The forum won't be able to get rid of me!
I actually thought about phlebotomy after my aunt (RGN) complained about foundation doctors being incapable of taking blood!
This could potentially be perfect. Is the best way to get this sort of work just waiting for opportunities to appear on NHS Jobs? I've only seen ads for trained, experience phlebotomists.
Again, thank you all for your replies. Appreciate your time and advice.
12-02-2011, 03:36 AM #6
- Join Date
- Mar 2005
1. Find out if there is a phlebotomy service at your local hospital.
2. Give them a ring - ask who you should send a CV to if looking for a phlebotomy job.
3. Write letter and enclose CV, explaining why you want the job (and why you would be worth employing!)- explain you can do weekend and holiday work only. If they can't help, ask them if they can think of any- thing/where else where you might try.
Re: foundation Drs being rubbish at bloods (and any number of other things). Think of MB ChB finals as the driving test. You know how to drive, you just aren't any good yet and lack experiecne. That is the junior Dr in medical terms. Those first 2 months on the road (or as an FY1) make all the difference.
You cannot learn to be a Dr (or to drive independently) until you go solo. That doesn't heppen until after graduation. So view critical comments about junior Drs with insight. Although the odd one or two are clearly just rubbish, as are the odd one or two amazingly good!"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism" (Sir William Osler)
12-02-2011, 08:41 PM #7
- Join Date
- Dec 2008
- London, UK
Again, I was in a very similar situation two years ago and am now on my 2nd year of a GEP.
I took a week of holiday and volunteered with Vitalise - they run holiday centres for disabled people in various parts of the country.. They're always looking for volunteers...(Volunteer at a Vitalise Centre | Volunteer Opportunities | Volunteer | Get involved | Vitalise)
Also, do you know anyone who is a doctor? - friends, friends of friends etc.. I got a few days work experience just from friends of friends....
Additionally, there are other non medical things which you can volunteer with which still look good on a medical application, ie Care homes, night shelters (I volunteered with Crisis during their yearly Christmas appeal - although it's after the application deadline, it's still another thing which you can talk about at interview!!)
Lastly - it's not about the volume of experience you have, it's just about being able to talk about it well at interview - what you have learnt from it!
14-02-2011, 10:54 PM #8
Thanks again. I've taken your advice and hope will be hearing at some point soon. You've been a great help!
I've heard of Vitalise actually; found during my googling. I'm going to contact them re: occasional volunteering, too. Need long term work to show commitment (and to 100% prove it to myself!) but this will be a great top-up.
I'm due to meet with St Bart's to go through the final checks before starting on the trolley service. This is something that I'm really looking forward to. Although it's not HCA/carer etc work, I'm looking forward to chatting with the patients and having some exposure to the environment in a working context.
One quick question following this: do many schools place more emphasis on experience at the interview rather than the application stage?
I'll report back with the volunteering etc success and let you all know!
15-02-2011, 02:30 PM #9
I know Notts and SGUL select for interview based purely on GAMSAT score (and meeting minimum entry criteria). I've heard WE isn't considered until the interview. Other Unis like Leicester (full time health workers only) and Bristol have a minimum WE requirement - so obviously work experience is considered before interview. I've heard of Oxford accepting GEP candidates with no work experience at all.
It's best to research each Uni you intend to apply to and tailor your CV to meet that requirement - or choose a Uni based on your prior experience.
One thing to bear in mind is that your personal statement also plays a massive part in your application. Part of your PS will be demonstrating your desire to become a doctor and the reasons why. This is very hard to to do if you have no WE up to that point.
Last edited by Profanius; 15-02-2011 at 02:32 PM.
04-03-2011, 12:05 AM #10
Thought I'd best reply to update on my progress!
Following Martigan's advice, I've registered as St John's Community Responder, due to begin the Pathway on 31 March (3 March all taken up!). Also, about to start as a Trolley Shop volunteer at St Bart's.
Still looking into HCA and Phlebotomist work. I'm going to wait to gauge the amount of time I'll have first, as I don't want to renege on my volunteering commitments because my weekends are taken up by one of these. However, I do plan to get involved in this in the near-ish future, so thanks for the advice.
I am now in the application process for two "work experience" programmes at two hospitals also. Again, thanks for the advice on this.
I'm now at the stage of considering universities to apply to. This is really quite a decision (although till October to decide, I guess). Looking like Glasgow, Edinburgh, QMU/St Barts GEM + one other GEP (stuck on this one!).
Re: Profanius' point on personal statements: that's one of the major reasons why I'm so keen on getting a good amount of WE and that it's varied (i.e., long-term WE to show commitment but varied to demonstrate a wide breadth of experiences that I've learned from). As starting this new path is quite "extreme" in a way, I see it as just as/more important that I prove my commitment to myself!
Again, thanks for all the help. It's been brilliant.
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