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Preparing your child for a medical career

07 October 2021

Preparing Your Child for a Career in Medical Sciences

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On October 6th 2021, InvestIN hosted Success Beyond School: The Skills Surgery, a bespoke webinar for parents looking to support their children as they pursue a career in medical science.

The event was led by Dr. Julian Pearce (Dermatology Registrar and Academic Clinical Fellow), who gave expert advice on medical science university applications, the key skills needed to succeed and how parents can help their children achieve their career goals. 

Below is a brief summary of the event’s key takeaways, with additional resources available to download.

Over the past 18 months, COVID-19 has had an undeniable impact on the global medical sector and, in turn, on medical school applications. 

Medicine has always been notoriously competitive. But with traditional examinations scrapped in favour of teacher-assessed grades, a record number of students were awarded A* and A grades in 2021

As a result, far more medical students qualified for their place at university than previously anticipated and there were fewer places available in the UCAS clearing process for those that didn’t. With many universities oversubscribed, some were reported to be offering students £10,000 to study elsewhere

Young people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, foregoing school, social activities and essential development opportunities. Many have found it difficult to catch up on lost learning and develop the skills they’ll need for their future career. 

We must now look for innovative ways to help aspiring medical students gain the skills they’ve missed out on over the past 18 months.

What is Medical Science? 

Medical Science encompasses the maintenance of health, the treatment and understanding of diseases and a comprehensive scientific knowledge of how the body functions. 

Jobs in the medical sector include:

  • Physicians 
  • Surgeons
  • Dentists
  • Vets
  • Pharmacists 
  • Pathologists 
  • Animal Technicians 
  • Veterinary Nurses 

It has been predicted that there will be rapid growth in the medical sciences in the coming years, with a rise in automations set to revolutionise how healthcare is delivered across the world. 

Preparing Your Children

Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine Entry Requirements

 

The qualifications and achievements expected of medical science applicants vary from university to university. 

However, most will require high grades in GCSE maths, English and science, A-Levels in chemistry and/or biology (or another science or maths subject) and work experience in clinical and non-clinical locations. 

Here are complete lists of entry requirements for UK medical schools and UK dental schools. The UCAS website is a great place to start if your child is considering veterinary medicine

Key Skills

 

In 2021, 28,690 students applied for just 9,500 medical school places, a 21% increase on 2020. 

This steep rise in competition means that those pursuing careers in the medical sciences must prove they have more than just good grades. Skills, work experience and extracurricular activities are essential to making your child’s application stand out. 

There are a number of relevant skills and attributes that universities and employers look for in those seeking to forge a career in the medical sciences. 

These include: 

  • Motivation
  • Personal organisation
  • Problem solving 
  • Respect 
  • Honesty 
  • Strong communication skills 
  • The ability to work as a team

Opportunities for Skill Development 

 

There are a plethora of opportunities available for your child to develop these skills before they begin their undergraduate training. 

These include: 

  • Work experience -  work experience in hospitals, dental clinics, veterinary practises, GP surgeries, medical research facilities etc. will provide your child with a practical understanding of what their dream job entails. 
  • In-person or online career experience programmes - a career experience programme will give your child the chance to explore their chosen industry more fully. InvestIN programmes are led by top professionals, providing your child with immersive experiences, expert advice and unparalleled networking opportunities. 
  • Volunteering - volunteering in any capacity is an excellent way for your child to develop key skills. For more relevant experience, you could advise them to get involved with a healthcare service or charity, e.g. St John’s Ambulance or Kissing it Better
  • Part-time jobs - part-time work, particularly in medicine-related or people-facing roles (in a hospital, dental practice, hospice or care home, for example, or else in hospitality or retail) could provide excellent practical experience to compliment your child’s education.  
  • Professional contacts - support your child as they approach any professional contacts that may be able to help them arrange work experience or advise them on what employers are looking for.
  • Research - help your child set aside some time to do their research. Reading around the profession they’d like to get into will really help familiarise them with the field and prepare for interviews. The RCGP eLearning portal has some great resources! 

Any out-of-school experience will give your child the opportunity to develop their skills, not to mention excellent experience to draw upon in an interview. 

Encourage them to get started as early as possible: the sooner they start, the more they can gain!

The Well-Rounded Applicant 

 

Beyond an obligatory list of interests and activities, a successful medical sciences applicant should have:

  • A wide range of hobbies, skills and professional work experience to draw on
  • The ability to write and talk about their interests and achievements, as well as link them to their future career
  • A realistic understanding of their chosen field
  • A healthy set of coping mechanisms to manage stress and avoid burnout
  • The ability to balance studying, work and everything else

Key Takeaways 

  • Experience is everywhere! Encourage your child to get involved in as much as possible, and reflect on what they have already done.
  • Talk to your child to help them identify their strengths. Which areas do they want to improve on? 
  • Empower your child - inspire them to seek relevant experience themselves. Don’t just do it for them!
  • Create a plan together - what are their next steps? 

Start now with our free experience diary!

 

Want to help your child’s career progression and support them in their goals? Encourage them to start preparing for their future by creating a written record of their experiences and achievements. 

Download our free resource, The Experience Diary, for your child to complete.  

Questions for your child to consider: 

  • What experiences do I already have? 
  • What did I enjoy about these experiences?
  • What skills did I learn?
  • How could those skills be improved? 
  • How could those skills be useful in a medical career? 
  • What work experience would I like to obtain? 
  • How might I go about finding a placement? 

The Skills Surgery Resource: The Experience Diary

 

Recording of the event Success Beyond School: The Skills Surgery, and our upcoming events.

To keep the discussion going with other parents, and for more useful resources, join our InvestIN Community Parent Group on LinkedIn. 

Not sure how to help your child choose a career? An InvestIN programme offers a comprehensive insight into an industry, so students can test drive a career before committing to it. Industry experts will guide your child through immersive career simulations, hands-on activities and inspiring site visits, whilst also giving detailed advice on how to succeed. View our Medical Science and Psychology Programmes. 

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