Are you interested in applying into medicine? I’m guessing you are probably considering it, otherwise you won’t be looking at this article. At the time of writing, I am a first-year medical student who has gotten into medical school after 2 attempts. Thus, this article will be suitable for both applicants and re-applicants, and I hope I will be able to answer most of your questions.
Medicine is an extremely popular course in Singapore, perhaps due to the constant lack of healthcare professionals, or the Asian stereotypes that children should aim to become a doctor or a lawyer. Once again, like every other medical student or doctor who has provided advice to interested applicants, here is a reminder to not go into medicine for the wrong reasons. Contrary to popular beliefs, doctoring is not all about money, prestige and fame. There is so much more to that, in fact medicine graduates may not even earn as much as graduates from other courses in the first few years after graduation. Some of my batchmates and seniors have even transferred to other courses because they could not take the workload.
Starting your applying journey on the right foot
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin
Here’s a quote that my dad used to tell me all the time. Once you have decided that you want to apply into medicine, do make sure that you plan early and start working on it because there are so many prospective medicine applicants and you need time to stand out among them. Here’s how you can start:
As cliche as it may sound, you really got to understand yourself because the interview questions asked always goes around your personal beliefs, aspirations, motivations and interests. They need to know whether you are the right candidate for medical school, but how are they going to know you, if you are not even sure about your own beliefs and values? From the bottom of your heart, ask yourself what are your motivations for doing medicine. What draws you to medicine, and what draws you away from medicine? How much do you understand about this profession? Working these out will definitely make it easier for you when you are applying for medicine, but if you are still unsure, fret not! Be sure to keep thinking through these questions and recording your thoughts every time you gain a new experience related to the field of medicine.
Think of your backup options
One big mistake I did during my pre-university days was to over-fixate myself over medicine. I did not really consider the possibility that I may not get into medical school. I know it’s a little pessimistic to think about being rejected before you even apply, but it is worthwhile to prepare yourself for the worst to prevent disappointments.
It’s quite normal to not know your backup plans but it is never too late! If you are having trouble choosing your backup choices, write down the reasons why you want to do medicine . Is it because you enjoy patient care? Or do you like the research aspect of medicine? Once you are done writing them down, look for some courses that will satisfy these reasons. There may not be that one course that satisfies all reasons (hence, you are applying to medical school) but there may be similar courses that will interest you, for example, psychology, pharmaceutical sciences, etc.
Planning which activities/jobs you should be hunting for
Contrary to popular belief, it is actually not difficult to find opportunities if you are looking at the right places (unless the opportunities you are looking for are really rare). Here are some suggestions:
- Finding clinic/hospital jobs: Indeed, Google, hospital job portals, and even calling your neighbourhood clinics if they need employees
- Volunteer Opportunities: Telegram (just search ‘volunteer’), crimsonecl.com (thank me later), Instagram accounts of organisations, Discord (not joking, do check out the opportunities page in the channel ‘Policy for the People’), Reddit (r/ECAdvice), Google
Note: Please make sure the jobs you are applying for are credible! You may have to keep checking those pages to get the jobs that you want. Do not settle for something that looks useful but you aren’t interested in!
Start aiming for the universities that you want to apply to
It is always good to have an idea of where you are applying to. If you are keen, do take a look at the medical school’s mission and vision statement and see the type of students they are looking to admit (eg. leaders in healthcare). Try your best to work your activities around the qualities they are looking for in their students, especially if you resonate with their mission and vision.
Consider if applying overseas is an option for you
Do discuss with your family if applying overseas is a possible option because not every family is keen to send their children overseas for education. Remember to respect their opinions and if you disagree with them, express your views in a polite manner to avoid discourse.
With that, I wish all medicine applicants all the best! Preparing your portfolio involves a lot of work, but trust me, all these will be worth it when you see the fruits of your labour
If you don’t mind, can share what is your own reason for doing medicine, I think it will make the article more personal and relatable.
A bit too sudden jump to overseas school application, maybe first share on your application to overseas med school and how they responded. Your feeling when you received the positive admission.