The Building Blocks of a Medicine Personal Statement

Although the UCAS deadline for Medicine applications is six months away, you may be considering writing yours now. Most Medicine Personal Statements have a big focus on your skills and personal qualities, but how do you do this? I’ll be detailing my experiences in writing my Personal Statement below!

Planning

You have 4000 characters/47 lines to sell yourself (approximately 500 words). That’s not a lot! Jot down what experiences you want to include, the skills you learnt, and how they relate to becoming a medic. Use this plan as a rough guide, it’s okay if you think of something better to use when writing it!

Support your Skills

If you write that you’re a compassionate person, no matter how true it is, Universities will dismiss it. You’ll need to use experiences as ‘proof’. Did you become more compassionate by seeing something on placement? If so, how? Was it something you saw? When you write about it, respect patient confidentiality, and keep the description to a minimum. Every word counts, you just need to set the scene.

After you’ve said the skill and how you got it, link it to the job. For example, a medic will need to show compassion for a patient and their family when discussing sensitive issues. Show you understand the importance of these qualities.

Some Universities actively list the qualities they look for on the course page, which can remind you of some qualities you have. As long as you don’t lie, you’ll be fine! (Remember: interviewers could ask you to explain some of your Personal Statement).

Re-Drafting

This is a rule of thumb for any piece of writing, but your Personal Statement especially. Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s important to proofread. Having your Personal Tutor or a Medicine co-ordinator in college read will help too. If someone can proofread it, make sure to (politely) ask them!

Closing Words

Your Personal Statement should be about what you’ve learnt and who you are. It can be difficult and it’s okay if you struggle! Ask your tutors for help and ideas (but remember, don’t have someone else write it for you!) The Medic Portal and other resources can be a big help, too.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment. There’s so much more I could talk about when it comes to writing Personal Statements.

-Tony

The Essential Non-Essentials of University Living

Around this time, you should have heard back from all your University choices. In that case, congratulations on your offers! The UCAS application process is the most difficult part of the University journey, but the next worry for most students is living independently. My main worry was not knowing what I should bring. I knew the essentials: plates, cutlery, bedding, and cleaning products (to name a few) – but I didn’t know what else to bring. Here, I’ll discuss the essential non-essentials I decided to bring University.

Tupperware

Most nights I prepare my lunch for the next day. Having the food ready in Tupperware means you can eat wherever on campus and with friends. It also saves you time during your breaks – so you’re not spending ten-fifteen minutes preparing lunch. As a bonus, you’re less likely to spend money at the canteen (while it is reasonably priced, I prefer to exhaust my food supply at home before buying food around campus).

Decorations

I love the University rooms, but they walls are empty, so make sure to personalise them! I hung up photos from home and some posters I bought during Freshers week to personalise my room and make it feel more homely. You can get tens of photo prints online for free from websites such as SnapFish. Fairy lights are allowed, but they must be battery operated!

Clothes Hangers

There are rails in wardrobes to hang clothes on, but you yourself will need to bring the hangers for them. Being able to hang clothes on rails makes picking clothes out easier, will stop them creasing (saving you time from ironing them), and saves space. While there is space to put some clothing that you don’t have a hanger for, there’s not enough for you to put your entire wardrobe there and not on the rack. As a bonus, you can use a hanger or two to dry some clothes!

Closing Words

All the things I’ve listed have made life at University easier for me. One more thing I can recommend (that I could write an entire blog about) are slippers; bring some. Most showers are wet-rooms and wearing slippers will keep your feet dry and warm when you go into your bathroom after a shower. They’re also very comfortable.

If you want more ideas as to what to bring, drop a comment below!

-Tony

Budgeting as a Student

Before coming to University, there’s a good chance you’ve heard students talking about how little money they have. No matter how generous your student loan can be, it can be easy to spend too much and be left with pennies. However, there are plenty of small changes you can make to stop yourself going into your overdraft. In this blog, I’m going to talk about how I’ve managed my money.

Treating Yourself

It can be tempting to splurge – and you should! University is stressful, and you should spend money to enjoy yourself. Usually, people would treat themselves to a takeaway, and although they’re nice, they’re expensive. At ALDI, you can buy pizzas for as cheap as 65p, and as expensive as £3. You can also buy curry sauce, rice, and sides for less than £5. With takeaway pizzas usually costing as cheap as £6, by doing this you’re saving more than £5, which can make a huge difference while still getting the takeaway experience. Side note: A majority of ALDI’s items are the cheapest in Ormskirk, so it’s more economical to do most/all your shopping there!

Going Out

Liverpool is a train ride away and can make for a nice night out. However, a cinema trip can cost £12 (£5 for a train ticket with railcard and £7 for the cinema ticket). Instead of spending £12 to see a film, why not take a five-minute walk to see a free film every Friday in our Arts Centre? The £12 you’re saving can go towards clothes or a food shop.

Getting a Job

Shops in Ormskirk are always hiring, but there are opportunities to earn money on campus, such as being a student representative. This can be beneficial if your student loan is low, although a job would be another factor to accommodate for in your work-life balance. Thankfully, there is support at University to help you manage your time, as well as helping you manage money.

Closing Words

Saving money doesn’t mean you have to cut out all the things you enjoy in your life. You just may need to splash out less frequently, and look for alternative, cheaper ways. I’ve never had any issues with money, and I’ve been able to enjoy myself (as have many of my friends, so hopefully these ideas will be effective for you.

Preparing for an Academic Assignment

The Catalyst, where the Ormskirk campus' library is located

Before University, you’ve probably never wrote an academic assignment. When I wrote essays in secondary school, I never had to reference the sources I used; but in University, you will need to so that you can prove you’re not using made-up facts or copying someone else’s work.

This blog will share my approach to academic writing, which should hopefully be useful when you start writing your assignments.

Referencing Systems

Different courses ask you to use different referencing systems; my course uses the Vancouver system. To help, Blackboard has a concise Vancouver referencing guide for all the different types of media we can reference. If you struggle to reference, there are teams, lecturers, and classes which can teach you referencing until you understand

 Websites can generate references based on the link or journal titles. However, they aren’t always reliable. Therefore, it’s encouraged to use these to get an idea of what a reference looks like, and build your confidence. 

But what will you need to reference? Anything from academic books, articles, to credible websites. The more recent the publication is, the better, especially for research. 

Finding Sources

Google Scholar is a great resource, but I find that the University’s online library is more useful. You can limit source by their type (journal, book, etc.) or publication year, and find key terms to quickly find appropriate resources. The online library allows access to resources you wouldn’t otherwise be able to access due to licensing/memberships to journals.

Most of the University’s sources have electronic copies available, so accessing them is instantaneous. However, some resources are not available online. Luckily, our Ormskirk campus’ library is open 24/7, and books can be checked out anytime. You can also reserve them online; even from another University Library (in Aintree or Manchester) to be delivered to another University library, which can be helpful if you study at home and live near those areas.

There are thousands of resources available at the University but if there’s a book that’d be very helpful but the University doesn’t have access to it, you can request that the University gets it in stock.

Closing Words

While referencing is difficult, the University supports us to develop the skills. In addition to this, we’re not limited to what we can cite. The University and internet includes so many resources to support our assignments.

-Tony

My First University Presentation

Before University, I was expecting that I would be assessed on written assignments, examinations, and OSCEs. I wasn’t expecting to have to present.

Although I’ve presented numerous times in the past, I felt nervous for my first University presentation, even though it was in front of only a few people – probably because I would receive marks and feedback for the first time. Months on, I can reflect and share my experience.

Preparation

Unlike other presentations I’ve given, University presentations (like other assignments) require us to cite credible academic sources. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do, but with support from my lecturers, I soon had the ball rolling. To find resources, I mainly used Google Scholar, PubMed, and the University’s online library.

With the research done, I checked BlackBoard to find a guide to making presentations. One key piece of advice given was not overloading slides with text. But how do you share all your research while keeping your slides brief and not overwhelming the viewers?

It’s about verbally expanding on bullet points, which I used as a prompt. The clearer what you say and how you say it, the more marks you get, but University doesn’t expect us to be perfect presenters, especially so early into our courses. I learnt what I wanted to say for each point, and although this was more difficult than relying on a script, I have to know the content for my career, so it helps.

Tips

With that said, it’s practically guaranteed we’ll forget something to say; even the best presenters forget but don’t get discouraged. Only you know what you planned to say! 

Practice makes perfect, but I struggled to practice alone. However, a few coursemates and I booked a room in the library to rehearse together before the presentation. I found I was more confident presenting in front of them than I was by myself! 

Final words

Our assessors gave us both positive feedback and areas to improve on, so I’m looking forward to doing better next time. I’m certain I’ll be more confident and improve on the score I’m already happy with. Hopefully, this anecdote puts any worries you might have at ease.

-Tony

My Experience in the Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre

What is it?

The Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre is the building used by Health students. We use it to learn practical skills before we go out on placement (such as drawing blood, practicing CPR, and so much more ). It only opened in October 2019, so everything is very new.

When I applied for Edge Hill University, I was interested in the Clinical Skills and Simulation Centre based on details alone. Initially, there were no pictures of what the building actually looked like, so stepping inside for the first time was a surreal experience. While our clinical experience in the Foundation Year is limited, we’ve made great use of the building so far!

But what it’s it really like studying there? I’ll be sharing my experiences to give you an idea as to what you can expect.

What does it look like?

Aesthetically, it looks and feels like a hospital. This is comforting; I feel like this will help with placement as it’ll be a familiar setting.

What’s in it?

The ground floor has multiple beds for patients of different identities. They blink, breathe, respond to your voice, and there’s even a birth simulation. The other week, we saw how medication affects a patient’s heart rate. It’s very versatile and realistic, and I can’t wait to use it more.

The first floor has a simulated flat for home visits. A few weeks ago, we had a lesson in there. We had to identify any hazards or clues around the house to get an idea as to how the patient lives. For example, if they have an empty fridge, you may wonder if they’re properly eating.

The floor is home to the anatomy room, too. With models of body parts and a state-of-the-art Anatomage table (think of a massive elongated iPad, with human bodies you can freely dissect, with some case studies which can show what happens during an injury). It’s a great way to be more hands-on with your learning!

There’s so much more, including a Radiography room, ultrasound facilities, an operating theatre, to name a few!

Closing words

I’ve had a great experience here (and on my course!) and I can’t wait for the years ahead of me when I can use the facilities a lot more often.

Choosing Accommodation That’s Best for You

Founders Court bedroom

Living independently for the first time is daunting and choosing where to live is even more stressful. Hopefully I’ll be able to address any concerns you might have in this blog!

How do I apply?

You’ll receive an email telling you how to apply for accommodation after accepting your offer from Edge Hill University. Then you’ll get login details for the Accommodation portal, where you’ll choose five accommodations in preference order.

The accommodation at Edge Hill University is award-winning and great value for money, so it’s just a matter of which accommodation is best for you!

Considerations:

Preferences

You can request same-sex, quiet, or alcohol-free rooms. However, your preferred accommodation may not have those halls. For example, you may want to live in Graduates Court and alcohol-free accommodation. Graduates doesn’t have alcohol-free halls. Therefore, you’d have to choose between living in Graduates or alcohol-free accommodation elsewhere.

Location

I loved living in Founders Court because it was close to my lessons. However it was further away from other facilities. Therefore, if you’d prefer to be central to everything, you should consider Main Halls or Back Halls. Check out the campus map to see where your lessons will be based and other parts of campus in relation to the accommodation you’re considering.

Cost

Our most expensive accommodation is relatively cheap compared to other Universities, but can be outside people’s budget. Thankfully, there’s a variety of accommodation at different prices. Back Halls is an economical optio ith shared bath room, kitchen, and large social space all for £60 a week. If you’d prefer an en-suite, Forest Court has en-suite options for £105 a week. Neither accommodation has TVs in their rooms (used for games consoles and watching TV if you own a TV license). Luckily, every other accommodation has TVs in their room (and en-suites); priced at £125-140 a week.

Miscellaneous

If you haven’t already, come to an Applicant Visit Day/Open Day to check out the accommodation! Additionally, you can compare our Halls of Residence online, with images of all accommodation. Also, adapted rooms are available.

Closing Words

Hopefully choosing accommodation is seems a bit less scary. I was worried before I moved in, so hopefully that’ll be comforting if you’re feeling anxious.

If you do have any questions, pop a comment down below!

-Tony

Making the Most of Your Foundation Year in Medicine Part 2: Social Aspects

Continuing from the last blog, I’ll be discussing just a few of the things I’ve done in my first year. Although this blog is targeted towards future Foundation Year medical students, this blog’s applicable for anyone!

Go to as Many Events as Possible
Give it a Go Banner

Do you have a generous student loan? Then go on an organised shopping trip! (we’ve had trips to Chesire Oaks and the Trafford Centre this year) Do you want freebies? Check out some events in the “Give it a Go” booklet you’ll get before University. You could go to a Crafternoon, make something unique (like a dream-catcher), while enjoying free snacks. If you want to pursue an interest, then you should check out the societies available at the Welcome week fair! There were some giveaways when I went. Therefore, I left with a £5 gift voucher (as well as free noodles and toiletries!)

Go to the Pub Quiz

The Pub Quiz takes place in the SU Bar on Monday nights. There’s a £1 entry fee, and a cash prize up for grabs. As it is in the bar, you can get refreshments to soften the blow for when you incorrectly answer. However, the sweet waffles from the SU’s kitchen can’t get the bitter taste of defeat out your mouth.

Go to the Arts Centre

Through a free Arts Centre membership, you can watch musicals, dance, and comedy nights for free or a discounted price. However, if you prefer the big screen, you’re able to go to ‘Free Film Fridays’ in the Studio Theatre. I’ve enjoyed many nights here and I didn’t have to spend a single penny!

Closing Words

That’s just three parts of Uni life, and there’s so much more to do on campus and outside of it. If you’re curious, I recommend you check out the termly “Give it a Go” booklets to get an idea. Alternatively, ask what I get up to in the comments below!

Making the Most of Your Foundation Year in Medicine Part 1: Academic Aspects

If you’ve clicked on this blog article, it’s probably because you’ve received your offer to study Medicine with a Foundation Year. In which case, well done! To even receive an invite to interview within itself is an achievement. However, you may be wondering what you can do in the Foundation Year. After all, by doing a Foundation Year, you’re one extra year away from becoming qualified. This year has a smaller workload and less contact hours. So what should you do? You might be wondering what to do with a bit of extra time, and with a bit less stress. In this blog, I’ll address the academic side, before exploring the social aspect of University in Part 2.

Wait, how do I even pass the year?

We need to achieve 40% in our assignments to progress onto the next year. There is no difference between a student who achieves 40% and 100% (although you’re best off aiming for 100% instead of 40%!)

Unlike some other Foundation Year Medicine programmes, there are no limited spaces to progress onto the next five years. Your coursemates will be your friends for the next six years – not your competition!

So what should I do when I start?

Let this be the year you find your feet! There’s no competition between you and your coursemates. You should learn how to reference at your own pace, and begin to read academic journals for research. Also, don’t be afraid to make mistakes with your studies! Let them be learning experiences – better to learn earlier on than later! You’ll be doing this in Study Skills lessons and when you write your assignments. The more you understand these skills now, the less you’ll need to pick up on the MBChB Medicine course.

What support will I get?

Don’t worry; you won’t do this alone. You’ll be able to rely on fourteen other coursemates, your personal academic tutor, and study support on the course. Outside of the course, you can attend one-to-one or group sessions on University Skills, free of charge!

If you’re still struggling to get to grips with skills by the year’s end, don’t worry! We have so much support on our course and this continues throughout the full six years.

How have you found the workload?

I have found it manageable. If people do struggle, study support is there to help manage time!

What work are you doing beyond lessons?

This year, I’m going to create a good number of resources that I can build upon across the six years. I’m doing this so I don’t have to start making them next year, when I have less time!

Closing Words

This year is all about developing skills for performing well in your assignments; and also your understanding for the fundamentals of Medicine. This will all be covered in lessons, but feel free to ask any of our teachers for support. They’re more than happy to help! As this year has a lower workload volume than the first year of the MBChB programme, I would say you should make the most of your free time, enjoy yourself (avoid burnout!) but also work hard to make the next years of the course more manageable.

If you have any questions or worries, drop a comment and I will be more than happy to answer them!

Want to know what you can expect outside of lesson on your course? Check out part two of the blog, coming within the next few days!