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Welcome to the 1st ever Pre-Med Digest newsletter from Medical Mavericks.

In this edition we have a fantastic interview with Lily, a 1st year Med School student. She has some amazing tips for work experience and interview practice. 

We also look at some rat poison, an ultrasound image and a career in Genomics. A standard day all round at Medical Mavericks πŸ˜‰

But first up... I look at why you shouldn't obsess with medicine!

Don't obsess with medicine!

OK, this might seem a little backwards for the fist article in a newsletter about getting into Med School, but it is true!

Let me explain. 

I've been to 100s of careers fairs in schools and colleges all over the UK and I get to meet University admission teams and listen to talks about getting into Med School, and the ONE thing that always come across is that you shouldn't obsess and make everything about becoming a doctor. 

You see, when you apply, Universities want to see that you are a 'well rounded' human being with different interests. They want to know about your sports teams, musical instruments you play, part time jobs, clubs and groups you belong to and skills you have away from education. Basically your hobbies!

Why is this? It's for several reasons. 

1. Studying medicine, let alone being a doctor, is tough and can be stressful, so the University wants to know that you have an outlet for stress, a distraction almost. Something balances out the stresses and strains of study. They're almost making sure you have tools in your locker to manage your mental health. Pretty cool, huh. 

2. Having experiences away from education in different environments and with different people will always develop your communication skills and expose you to different cultures, ages of people, opinions, all sorts of random 'stuff' that life can throw at you. And guess what... that is a good thing!

When you go into your training, you're going to be confronted by all sorts of scenarios, all sorts of people, all sorts of languages, so you're skill set in communication will definitely need some work. BUT the more experiences you have outside of education that expose you to similar scenarios in terms of communication, team work etc is always going to be something Universities look for. 

Ultrasound Scan of the Week

Have you ever heard the phrase 'pulling on your heart strings'? It's usually used when someone is trying to pull on your emotions and make you love something. 

Well, did you know you actually have 'heart strings' in your heart! Yep, they are very real and you can see them below.

The image below is actually a screen shot from a video taken from an ultrasound machine and it shows my heart! (That's my commitment to you... I'm giving you my heart πŸ˜‰

The heart strings are actually cords of tenon or their official name Chordae Tendinae. They attach onto the valves that sit between your atria and ventricles and anchor into the papillary muscles at the bottom of the ventricle chamber. 

Their job? To stop your valves flipping the wrong way! They act as guide ropes for your valves, adding some tension to the valve structure that prevents them from flipping into your atria! That would mean blood would flow the wrong way and you don't want that!

If you want to see the video which this image was taken from, you can click the button below. You get to see my heart beating on the screen and even see what an arrhythmia looks like in real time!

Click here to watch Tom's heart on an Ultaround Scan!

Don't lick that!
Medicine of the Week - Rat Poison!

This isn't a joke... but there is a drug we can give patients that is based on rat poison!

The drug is called Warfarin and it is given to patients that are at risk of or have a thrombosis AKA a blood clot in their cardiovascular system. 

Essentially, warfarin is a drug that thins your blood. It makes it 'less sticky' and prevents clots from forming. 

It was used to kill rats and rodents by making making them bleed internally! What a way to go... a big ol' dose of warfarin to stop your blood clotting and you bleed out internally. 

Seriously though.. .this is a risk in humans too! 

So, to combat this, doctors look at something called the International Normalised Ration or INR number (i have no idea why they called it this either). This number looks at how sticky or 'clotty' your blood is. 

An INR of 1.1 and below is normal and patients on warfarin are targeted to get to between 2 and 3. anything above 3.5 is dangerous and the patient is at risk of bleeding. 

If you want to watch a video I've recorded that looks at this in a little more detail you can watch it by clicking the button below:

Click here to watch Tom's video on Warfarin

UCAT Question of the Week

As I'm sure you know, to study medicine in the UK, you have to complete a test called the UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test). This is a computer-based test taken by applicants to certain medical and dental schools in the UK. It consists of five sections: Verbal Reasoning, Decision Making, Quantitative Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, and Situational Judgement.

Each week we'll include a question from one of these sections for you to answer... the answer is right at the bottom of this email... so no scrolling and cheating until you've answered it!

Here's this week's question from verbal reasoning. 

Read the passage and answer the question below:

Passage: Researchers have found that exercising for at least 30 minutes a day can significantly improve an individual's physical health. In addition to physical benefits, daily exercise can also aid mental wellbeing by reducing stress and anxiety levels.

Question: According to the passage, daily exercise contributes only to physical health. Is this:

a) True

b) False

c) Cannot tell

What do you think? Pick and answer and scroll to the very bottom of the email!


One of THE most important factors you need to recognise before, during and after applying to med school is that your work in the NHS is a team game. It's not all about doctors. Yes, they get all the 'glory' BUT it takes a huge squad of players to save lives and treat diseases. 

So, each week I'm going to introduce to you a career that is not a doctor. It is part of the NHS crew, gang, squad, team... what ever you want to call it πŸ˜‰

This is REALLY important, because if you can talk about these careers during interviews or in your UCAS statement it shows you have a good understanding of how the system works and that you have put time and effort into your career choice after researching potential alternative medical careers to go into 

Clever, eh?!

Here's this weeks career: GENOMICS

Area of the NHS: Healthcare Science - Lab based. 

Genomics Overview: 

Genomics plays a pivotal role in understanding the intricate mechanisms of biological systems. This field of study focuses on the complete set of genes within an organism (the genome), utilizing high-throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics to assemble, annotate, and analyse the function and structure of genomes. The genomic data can shed light on the genetic variants that contribute to disease, drug response, and other health-related issues, thereby assisting in the development of personalized medicine, more precise diagnostic tools, and targeted therapies. Furthermore, genomics facilitates studying the evolutionary processes and diversity among different species, which has broad implications for biodiversity conservation and our understanding of life's origin and development.

Moreover, genomics is at the heart of many modern biotechnological advancements, such as gene editing, synthetic biology, and genomic medicine. The study of genomics has brought about more effective disease prevention strategies, especially for inherited genetic disorders. For instance, carrier screening for specific genetic mutations can be carried out to provide prospective parents with information about the risk of having a child with a genetic disorder. Genomics also helps in understanding the genetic basis of complex diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, thus enabling researchers to develop new prevention and treatment strategies. Despite the challenges, including ethical considerations and data management issues, genomics continues to redefine the boundaries of our scientific understanding and medical capabilities.

Sounds like a pretty amazing role doesn't it? It will certainly impact 100s of lives each year and with A.I coming online, Genomics is about to go stratospheric! 

Physiology 5s

My specialism is both Physiology and Toxicology. I absolutely L.O.V.E it. For this reason I'm going to share with you 5 facts about the human physiology each week. 

This week, we're looking at BLOOD!

1. Adults have around 5 litres of blood circulating around their body and you can lose up to 2 litres (40%) before death!

2.  In just one day, our blood travels an incredible 12,000 miles (19,000 kilometres), circulating through our body approximately 1,000 times. That's like traveling halfway around the world every day!

3. Red Blood Cells make up 80% of all the cells in your body! An average adult has around 25 TRILLION RBCs!!!

4. Oxygenated blood is a different colour compared to de-oxygenated blood. The oxygenated blood is a red colour, where as the deoxygenated blood is a darker crimson coloured red.

5. If you drew a square that was 1mm2 (each side is 1mm) a laid 1 layer of RBCs flat in rows, you could fit over 20,000 of them inside this space alone!

Interview with Amalia Morris - Part 1
1st Year Med Student

Our first interviewee is a fabulous young lady called Amalia Morris - aka as Lily. I've known Lily for 2 years now, but she has known us for a little while longer as we visited her school when she was in year 10!

She showed great initiative in looking for work experience and a job, by contacting us directly when she finished her A-levels. We were a little dubious at first because we had never employed a school leaver before. All of our team were at Uni or had graduating. However, our decision to bring her onboard paid dividends and she become an integral part of our team that we could trust with any project. 

Here's the first part of her Med School story. Part 2 will follow next week. 

What did you study at A-level?

I Initially took, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Maths. I took Maths as I thought I would need it to go into any STEM type of degree or career. I didn't enjoy Maths that much, I wasn't bad at it, but it wasn't my strongest subject and only took it because I thought I needed it. By Christmas in Year 12, I dropped it as I was never going to get an A, plus the work I had to put in would have damaged my chances of getting the grades in needed in the other subjects. You also don't need Maths for Medicine. In the end I got three A*'s in my other subjects. 

In addition I also did an EPQ which is an Extended Project Qualification. I chose the topic of Ibuprofen, looking at the history of it and even making a version of it in the school lab! We even managed to send into a university to get in analysed to see how accurate it was! I got an A for this project too. 

Did you go straight to Med School or take a year out?

I took a gap year because I wanted to apply to Med School with actual grades and not predicted grades. 

In my gap year I worked for Medical Mavericks travelling all over the country delivering their workshops and talks to children and young people about the careers in the NHS and showing them how to use really cool medical equipment such as an ultrasound. I think I visited every county in the UK!

I worked as a phlebotomist on the bank for my local NHS trust. (A bank in the NHS is a group of people who can come in and work different shifts as and when they want. It is not a permanent position, but gives you some flexibility on when you want to work!)

I also worked in a residential home for children with autism and special needs in a school not far from home. 

In the summer I also worked at the Commonwealth Games working as a chaperone on the anti-doping programme! I helped  perform drug tests on the athletes that were selected. 

Away from in person experiences, I also completed lots of online courses to help with me Med School application.

Why Medicine & what other careers did you consider?

I started to make my decision by first of all looking at what jobs I didn't want to do. So I knew I didn't want to have an office job but wanted to work with people and I found the human body fascinating. This led me to roles healthcare including Paramedics, Nursing, Pharmacology, Physiology & Medicine. I then had to think really hard about where I wanted to go in life and what did I want my job to enable me to do. I wanted the option to be able to specialise in lots of different areas so that removed the Paramedic role. I really wanted the know the depth of science and have a leadership type role in the multi-disciplinary team and be the final person make decisions. Medicine gave me all of those aspects. 

What work experience did you have when applying to Med School?

I had a week's work experience at a hospital, but I think the best experiences I had were outside of a hospital! This is because I could work on and develop the key skills Med School looks for in your application. Things like team work, leadership, active listening and communication. I developed all of these working with Tom, especially communication where I'd have to change how I explained scientific principles to children of different ages and abilities. 

That role also helped learn about all the different roles within the NHS and how they are all as important as each other in caring for a patient. The practical element of working for Medical Mavericks also let me use amazing piece of kit such as an ultrasound which fed my clinical skills bug as did my phlebotomy course. You only have to be 16 and have an English GCSE to attend! 

Working in the school for autistic children I learned to communicate in ways that were not just verbal and learn the importance of that. 

The Commonwealth Games was a great exposure to sports medicine too. 

The online courses I completed help show I was going the extra mile to broaden my knowledge during my gap year as I was obviously not studying throughout this period. 

How did you find the UKCAT?

I hated it, really didn't like it! I don't think I know any one that enjoyed it! UKCAT stress is a thing that is very real and you will experience if you do take it. At the time I didn't understand the logic to it, how these questions were going to prove I was going to be a good doctor. But now, in hindsight, I do get it. I can see that you are presented with something that is so foreign that you don't understand but have to persevere, problem solving and critically analysing answers and data. You also have to know when to move on with the questions as they are all worth 1 mark, but some take 30seconds to answer where as others will take 5 minutes. 

To help with this I did a 1 day course, but what really makes the difference is consistent daily practice!

Which Universities did you apply for?

Dundee, Newcastle, Exeter & Leicester. I got interviews from all of them, but only attended Dundee, Newcastle and Exeter because Leicester was a tactical back up application as it wasn't in my top 3. In the end I chose Newcastle. 

What were the interviews like?

I had a mixture of panel interviews and MMI, (multiple mini interviews). MMI is very rapid with very little personal rapport building as you only have 6 minutes. Panel interviews were very traditional type interviews with time to get across your personality and the questions were the more common type such as 'why medicine?, strengths, weaknesses... there weren't any role plays in these interviews. 

I did a lot of prep for my interviews. I created a document with different sections including GMC principles, the NHS hot topics, strengths and weaknesses, work experiences, why medicine? why me? And most importantly I did a 'why them' section for each university as they want to know why you want to go there over all the other universities. I wrote all my answers out and then practiced them out loud, because it is really important to be authentic and real. I got my Mum to ask me the questions, had friends chip in too and I also videoed myself answering the questions too. 

Thanks for these amazing answers Lily. There are some really valuable nuggets in here, especially around work experience, UKCAT prep and interview practice. We'll have more from Lily next week when she tells us about her 1st year at Uni! 

And finally...Can you share the love?

If you have got value from this newsletter, can you help share the love! 

If you know any other parents or teens that are aspiring to be doctors, share this newsletter with them.

Just use copy and paste (or just type!) this web address and they can sign up too!:

Here's some ideas where to share

- Post in your school / parent Whats App Group
- Share in other community groups on facebook or on your own page
- Forward this email to your school or a friend
- Share it on social media - twitter, tiktok, insta... you know the drill!

I'm on a mission to inspire the next generation of medical professionals and with your help in spreading the word we can make sure our NHS go to place of work for children. 

Until next time,
Head Honcho of Inspiration

Answers to UKCAT Question

Answer: b) False (The passage mentions that daily exercise can aid mental wellbeing as well)

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