Medical Seminar: An Overview of the Application Process

London A51

We were very lucky to have Dr Ricardo Tavares from The Medic Portal joining us for a Medical Seminar as part of this year’s dedicated programme for prospective medics. Dr Tavares spent an hour with our aspiring medics to give them an overview of the application process as well as some top tips on how to succeed along the way.

In addition to his work at The Medic Portal, Dr Tavares has been a practising doctor for eight years, since graduating from the University of Oxford and University College London, so he was well-placed to provide help and advice to our sixth form students. There was a very good turnout for this year’s first Medical Seminar and we must thank our Head of Chemistry for rearranging a test at the last minute to allow some of his class to attend also!

Last year, the average applicant-to-place ratio was 10:1 so prospective medical students clearly have their work cut out. Dr Tavares explained how our students could maximise their chances of success by, for example, allowing their UKCAT score to inform which universities they applied to and by applying to only one BMAT-requiring university, meaning that they could ‘hedge their bets’. His talk was peppered with titbits of information and explanation: for example, he pointed out that one of the key areas of difficulty for students talking the BMAT is the essay section. He advised our students to keep the essay succinct and precise, written in a similar style to that of a doctor writing patient notes or a referral letter. Apparently many students fall down by trying to impress examiners through their complicated prose and advanced use of punctuation: don’t do this was the advice to our students! Keep sentences short and sweet and, for punctuation, use commas and full stops only.

A second key area of difficulty for medical applicants are the dreaded ‘medical ethics’ questions at interview, which Dr Tavares very eloquently illustrated by steering our students towards an ‘obvious’ answer to a conundrum only to immediately expose the fault in their choice. He advised students to take their time on matters of medical ethics and to refer to the ‘Four Pillars of Medical Ethics’ when trying to reach an answer.

All in all, it was an extremely informative hour and the students have taken away many pointers to help them going forward. 

Simon Horner