Saturday, 31 March 2012

My Interview at Barts

When I first started applying for medicine, I heavily relied on TSR and blogs for advice and guidance. Subsequently I have always seen my blog as a learning tool for others following in my footsteps. Now that I have an offer I can share my interview. People can understand what I was asked and how I responded.

Before the interview I was asked to read this article and "hear my thoughts" on the issue.

14th February 2012
I arrive, register and am taken to the Common Room. I am then taken to the Old Library where I sit with a few of my fellow coursemates and some people I don't know. The Old Library is a big, spacious room and they have set up several booths to conduct the interviews. I can hear little snippets of each conversation i.e. "New Scientist", "What would you do...", "Passion".

Me and a friend talk with the medical student. All being 21 we are more confident than the 17/18 year olds next to us, waiting for their interviews.

I'm finally called and the interview knows exactly who I am. It was hard, two guys and the rest girls. I'm Caucasian and the other guy is Asian. If you knew my name, you'd make the same judgement as well.

She leads me to the very last booth in the room telling me about who she and the other interviewer are.

I sit down, announce "So this is it" and they both smile. We begin by discussing the process in which I am applying. Deferred entry for 2013. This moves onto my modules choices for third year of Biomed and I discuss the SBCS restructuring. One of my interviewes is a medical scientist and is very concerned about this. She is a lecturer on my third year module of Endocrine Physiology. We have a genuine conversation on it, before we realise that I'm here for a medicine interview.

We discuss the benefits of having a degree before medicine, and one of my interviewers thinks that all applicants should have a degree before hand because it matures you and makes you a better medicine applicant. I'm loving this interview already.

I am then asked about the article we were asked to read. I start by discussing the journalistic points of the article and then move onto the ethical reasons. I talk for a few minutes, running through my prepared answer and coming to a logical conclusion.

We then discuss a scenario about someone who is obese and would they remain the same weight after the operation. I am repeatedly pushed to defend my opinion at this point. I assumed it was a test to make sure I would stand my ground on the subject.

I am then asked "Why Barts?". I start with my mention of Hackey, Shoreditch and Bagels (all my friends laughed at this). I then move onto clinical reasons such as local prevalent diseases. They stop me at this, as if they have heard enough already and I wish I could have talked about PBL and dissection.

We move on to "What have I done to prepare for medicine?"

I discuss work experience, volunteering, working for DWP. This briefly leads them to review my personal statement and ask me how JD Wetherspoon could possibly be beneficial to Medicine. I explain about my A&E work experience. How I dealt with drunk people in both situations.

"Has anyone tried to put you off medicine?"

I discussed how I know medical students who have cried at exams. That the course was so intense they broke down. This was a difficult answer. I was criticised for this because if students can't deal with exams, how can they deal with being a doctor? I responded and defended my statement.

I also talked about other negatives I've viewed from my work experience and what I know.

"How would I deal with death as a doctor?"

I started off answering this about in terms of a medical student. I was stopped and they reasked the question. I then talked about empathy and professionalism and I knew I had hit the buzz words. Lots of nodding from one.

"Any questions?"

This surprised me. They said it had been "a good interview" and I was very pleased to hear that. I didn't know what to say. I couldn't believe it was over so quickly, so I just ended with "Barts has always been my first choice. Plus I'm in love with the library." They agreed. One of the interviewers wished she could enjoy bagels with no consequences. We all laughed, I shook hands and left.

Apart from one job at the student union, I have got every job I have interviewed for. I felt confident about this but at the same time I felt like I could have said so much more. I lived in nervous wait for over a month before I heard. I love the two woman that interviewed me and when I meet them again, I will thank them over and over!

Advice for Barts
Barts are so nice. It blew me away how nice they were. At the same time, I heard from friends that their interviews were not as nice as mine.

In my opinion, Barts made you feel comfortable but were not afraid to push you so that you would defend your opinion/answer. I felt on a few occasions that they were being conflicting, just to see how I would deal with the pressure, how I would respond to the attack on my view.

I can't fault Barts. They were lovely to me and I got an offer. Plus I'm probably known as 'Bagel Guy" in the admissions office.

Last teaching week of Year Two

Listening to : Obsessions - Marina and The Diamonds

It's the end of term. I came back for a week but couldn't attend half the lectures because my recovery from my appendix is taking much longer than expected. But I'm ploughing through. I have four weeks till my first second year exam. SCARED.

I need to get a 2:1 (60%) this year. I have something to aim for. I have something that I have dreamt of for years. Yet I am filled with panic at the thought of the knowledge I must cover. I never learn. I'm always in this position.

But enough about that. I'll recap this week at uni. I came back and my flat was a mess. Now, I'm not a neat freak or anything but when all my plates have been used and left all over the place I was mad. I shouted at a guest who was staying (brother of a flatmate) and made him tidy it up.

Then I came to uni and met up with people. Out of the seven or eight that applied to medicine, two got rejected. One of my close friends was one of them. I feel horrible for her because, while I've been dignified about getting an offer, others haven't. Another friend who was rejected before interview has been quite nice about the whole thing. We had an end of term BBQ yesterday (SUNNY) and we had a good chat about what his plans were. It's nice that I can talk about it with people. Hopefully they don't see me as a twat now.

Also as we make the move to third year, we have to decide projects. Every conversation with course mates seems to cover the topic of projects.

"What you going to do?"
"Who've you spoken too?"
"What are you interested in?"

I hate labs. I think I've expressed that feeling a lot on this blog. So the idea of giving up my summer to work in a lab for two months is hideous. Almost none of the projects interest me. And the one that I wanted isn't being run this year because of the Olympics. Damm Olympics. Although it got my Hackney Weekend tickets so I shouldn't complain.

Yes, because I live in an olympic London Borough, I had access to exclusive Radio 1 Hackney Weekend tickets. I choose Saturday because Jay-Z, Two Door and Ed Sheeran are playing. Best £2.50 ever!

Anyway choices. I want the module worth 30 credits called Project Skills. It's lots of essays, mock journals and New Scientist style articles. With my experience in Student Union journalism, I think this module is for me. YET it's very competitive and they are using my grades from first year. If I don't get it, I have to do a basic lab module and an extra module.

I shall cross that bridge when I come to it because I HAVE AN OFFER FOR MEDICINE :D

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


That's right. I am currently holding an offer for Barts and The Royal London Medical School to study MBBS Medicine for 5 years.


It hasn't really sunk in. I've waited for this day for a long time. And now it's here. All I'm doing is jumping up and down shouting.

It's conditional on me getting a 2:1. Which means I need to work. Now.
So back to my essay :(

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


You're waiting for a train.
A train that'll take you far away.
You know where you hope this train will take you.
But you can't know for sure.
Yet it doesn't matter.
Now, tell me why?
Because you'll be together!

One of my favourite movie quotes.

I'm still waiting. Post offer open day is next Wednesday. Very soon. I just want to know.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


So reading week has come and gone at Queen Mary. Mine has been quite eventful.

I noticed that the day after my interview I had abdomen pain in my lower right quadrant. I initially assumed it was stressed and that it would go. However after two or three days it didn't and I started to get worried. I pulled out my Kumar and Clark and check the symptoms for appendicitis. I had the pain but no nausea, fever or diarrhoea. So I waited.

I waited for over a week until I was back home in Somerset with my family. When the pain got so bad, I went to see my GP who sent me straight to A&E with a referral.

I was admitted on the Friday, operated on the Saturday and released on Monday (last week). The surgeons confirmed it was appendicitis after and were nothing but nice to me. My real praise goes to the nurses though. My hospital was at peak capacity that weekend. So much so, that I was kept on a day ward for my entire stay. I lost count of the number of shift changes I saw but each and every nurse was amazing. They cared, they genuinely wanted to help me and had the patience of a saint.

I was so impressed by the NHS and it made me fear America. If I had to worry about money before entering hospital, then the entire experience would have been different.

Surprisingly, it took my mind off my Medicine application because I couldn't access emails.
I'm slowly recovering. Slower than I'd like. Wounds are healing well, but I've still got some pain issues and after 10 days I might be slightly worried. I've missed over a week of uni and with exam timetable just being released I'm panicking slightly.

Also Barts are dragging their heels at releasing offers/rejections. I know that they released information yesterday for graduates applying for A100. I didn't hear anything so I'm not classified as a graduate. According to TSR that leaves me as a reapplicant or school leaver. I would assume reapplicant is more appropriate. This would mean that I would be hearing from Barts today. WOW. Writing that just made me get butterflies. I could be hearing from Barts today. Or not. This is all based on patterns detected by TSR. However those crazy people are usually right.

I'll let you guys know either way.