OAKS Introduce… Careers Talk (Medicine)
Report by Louis, Year 10
Thursday 11th June saw prospective medical students from AKS listening to a presentation from alumnus Harry Bickerstaffe (class of 2015) as part of the ‘OAKS Introduce… Career talks from Alumni’ virtual careers webinar program. Harry discussed his experiences in studying medicine at the University of Liverpool, working towards his intercalated degree at the University of Cambridge, and his wish to pursue a biological sciences/medical alternative career path. He is currently completing his intercalated degree in Therapeutic Science at the University of Cambridge and will complete his MB ChB Hons in Medicine and Surgery at the University of Liverpool in 2021.
The talk began with a segment in which he spoke about information he wished he would have known prior to beginning medical school. This included four key pieces of advice. One was that there are myriads of careers available to you once you have entered the field of medicine, so it is likely that you will change your mind. The second key piece of advice was to talk to people – simple as it seems, it was made clear by Harry that this is vital. Due to approaching strangers perhaps being a daunting feat for some, there are sites such as LinkedIn and The Student Room through which you can contact doctors, medical students, and many more. With this segment being based upon pre-medical school, the third piece of advice was to tell a story. Telling a clear and compelling story of why you are passionate and eager to enter the field of medicine when writing an application is, Harry said, particularly important. And, finally, the last piece of advice given to us was to be well-rounded in your application. Perhaps the most important piece of advice, it was noted that being well-rounded when entering the field of medicine is absolutely vital. To “identify the gaps and fill them with new experiences” is most important.
The second section of Harry’s talk addressed some commonly asked questions which were sent in by the attendees of the virtual presentation. These were:
“How do you apply to medical school?” Harry said it is important to check all the universities’ requirements on their websites and to use collated resources where people who have experience can collate their experience across the board of multiple medical schools.
“What is the work/life balance like?” Medical school is split into the pre-clinical years which are particularly scientific, and the clinical years which are mostly spent in the hospital. According to Harry, the pre-clinical years are slightly more forgiving with regard to work/life balance. However, when it comes to clinical years, we were informed that it became more like a job, and the social side of things is somewhat outweighed by the work you have to do.
“What do you experience?” If you think of it as the two separate parts being the pre-clinical and clinical part, the clinical is very scientific, but is a varied course. According to Harry, there are a lot of lectures and tutorials. One example is Harry’s time spent in army bases with his classes, doing activities like assembling stretchers and moving patients from place to place. You do also have consultations with actors, to replicate a hospital situation. In the clinical years, however, you’re going a lot more into the hospital and communication side and Harry said you are taken through all types of medical and surgical specialities.
“Does university name matter when applying for jobs in medicine?” We were informed that if you are planning on focusing purely on hospital medicine it is very much meritocratic. For jobs outside of hospital medicine (e.g. research in medicine like companies developing drugs) the university you’ve attended does have an impact.
The next 50 minutes were filled out by a Q&A, in which we discussed topics like private practice, UCAT tests, alternative routes within medicine, the effect of COVID-19 on medical school applications, foreign medicine, and many other relative topics. Another OAKS alumnus, Lizzie Drinkwater (studying medicine at University of Edinburgh), imparted her knowledge regarding some of the questions asked.
I think I can say thank you on behalf of everyone who attended to both Mr. Maund and especially Harry Bickerstaffe for the fantastic talk he gave to us and the incredibly helpful responses to the questions asked throughout. A fantastic presentation particularly when taking into account the current situation. I know I have decided to go down the medicine route, and I would recommend watching these careers talks regardless of topic – it was insightful and incredibly helpful – a very valuable experience for us all!
Calling all alumni: If you would like to speak at OAKS Introduce... Careers Event, please complete our form online now. We would be delighted to hear from you!