Careers advice

  • Why do I need a strong application?
    • Competition for jobs is increasing with greater influx of foreign graduates (especially from the EU) and with a reduction in the number of training posts in some cases
    • A strong application gives you options
      • For example, you may want to go for a competitive specialty or perhaps a competitive location – a strong application will be essential in either case
      • You may want to get involved in management, hospital committees and potentially even teaching roles within medical schools – evidence of the relevant involvement with committees and teaching at University level will stand you in good stead for this
    • A portfolio is a good place to keep a record of all your achievements as there will be many applications that you will fill out during your career in addition to jobs e.g. scholarships, prizes, courses etc.
  • Start early!
    • The earlier you start building up your CV, the better off you will be.
    • Most students don’t begin thinking about their portfolio until the clinical years and even then, only lightly
      • Many opportunities like publishing and carrying out research take a lot of time for the results to come to fruition.
  • Maintain balance
    • Focusing on building a good portfolio doesn’t have to come at the expense of enjoying University. Just as with anything else, all that is needed is good time management:
      • Set realistic goals for when you aim to complete tasks by and don’t try to take on too much at once
      • Ensure you regularly spend time away from medically related pursuits doing other hobbies e.g. sports, music etc.
  • CV
    • Publications
      • It will be hard to write authoritatively on a subject as a student. Instead, use your student perspective as an advantage e.g. writing opinion/debate articles on issues related to students etc.
      • If you are interested in a particular area, try approaching a consultant/registrar, suggest the idea and work with them. Having a senior author will improve the quality of your final draft and increase the chances of publishing with a well-reputed journal.
    • Research
      • The intercalated degree and Student Selected Components/Modules are useful opportunities to carry out research. Many students also choose to spend one of the long Summer holidays in the first two years of the course doing research
      • You may enjoy it so much that you end up pursuing academic medicine as a career!
      • Even if research isn’t something you would wish to do full time, it’s undoubtedly a vital part of medicine and some understanding of the process is useful
      • It’s a good place to gain critical appraisal skills and become more of an expert at accurate literature searching; both will help significantly when writing publications in some areas.
    • Audits
      • Audits provide an excellent insight into the streamlining and improvement of clinical practice. Clinicians are normally very willing to accept help from keen medical students. Much of the work is administrative involving searching records, data tabulation and data analysis. As with other types of studies, when your experience increases so will your responsibility and involvement with projects.
        • Thus, within a firm, audits can be a good place to show your commitment and enthusiasm before perhaps joining a much larger active research project
      • An interesting audit might be presentable at a conference or could even lead to a change in policy at a Trust
    • Posters
      • This is often the format used to present audits or case reports at conferences
      • At conferences, presenting a poster will often be competitive and could lead to a prize
      • In any case, senior consultants and registrars usually assess posters and so it’s a good opportunity to practice answering hard questions without the pressure of a ‘large audience’
    • Presentations
      • Oral presentations can occur on a small scale at local departments or as part of grand rounds in hospitals
      • It is the ones at national and international conferences that will be most useful for future applications
      • Obviously, you will need something very worthy of presenting at such high level conferences and this is another reason why getting involved with research can be a good idea.
    • Prizes
      • These always stand out on a CV and often gain you extra points on application forms
      • Make sure you keep well aware of what prizes your own medical school offers
      • In addition, there are several bodies that run national prizes. These are generally awarded for successful presentations or submission of outstanding essays
    • Courses
      • There is a range of student courses on, for example, basic surgical skills, life support etc.
      • These can provide you with valuable skills that can make your experience as a student more valuable
        • E.g. a surgical skills course would make you much more comfortable in assisting with basic theatre protocol
    • Positions of responsibility
      • As a student, this will often consist of being part of a society or acting as a representative to a certain body e.g. the Royal Society of Medicine.
      • Obviously, the higher the position the better this will look on your CV
      • Perhaps more importantly, being in such positions gives you good experience of organising events. The teamwork, communication and leadership skills that you will build are essential in a clinical setting and in all aspects of life.
      • Don’t be afraid to start up your own society if you see a gap in coverage that could be filled
        • This shows significant initiative, leadership and creativity
        • We are happy to advise and support you during the process
    • Teaching
      • As a medical student, this is often hard to come by but is no doubt an essential part of medicine at all levels
      • In many medical schools, there may be a programme whereby final year students support younger students.
  • Extracurricular
    • Maintaining interests outside of medicine helps you to keep a healthy work-life balance as well as demonstrating to employers that you are more than just a doctor
    • This will often come from sports, music, drama, debating, running external organisations etc.
  • Networking
    • You will generally find that the more CV building activities you get involved in, the more opportunities you will find coming your way
    • Networking is a vital part of this
      • Try and make as good an impression as possible when on firms
        • Ask whether there are any projects or audits you can assist with
      • Make use of the opportunity to mingle during the tea breaks at conferences etc.
      • Maintain an active network with medical students from a variety of years – this often comes about from being involved in societies
        • This can be especially useful for things such as approaching the right firm for an elective e.g. one where you will get as much hands on experience as possible etc.
        • It is also useful for obtaining medical school specific resources such as past papers
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