Student Committee for the National Virtual Medical Society
Sana Hussain, Bancrofts, Year 12
Shreeja Tripathi, Cults Academy, S5
Manas Agrawal, George Heriots School, S5
The following positions have been listed at random and are all of equal importance
Aaliyah Bax, Bolton School, Year 12
Hannah Potvliege, St Leonards Catholic School, Year 12
Lynette Thomas, Cults Academy, S5
Yosha Pathak, Upton Court Grammar, Year 12
Tom Krys, St Johns College, Year 12
Tabitha Premraj, Wallington Girls, Year 12
Patryk Micjlewski, George Heriots School, Year 12
Ellie Martin, Swanshurst, Year 11
Elizabeth Varaksina, King Edward VI Camphill, Year 12
Fathima Saqib, King Edward VI Handsworth, Year 12
Lorraine Jarvis, Lady Margaret School, Year 12
Nicola Bakova, St Margarets Academy, Year 12
Feedback on Applications for Virtual Med Soc Student Committee
Wow, what can I say about the response from the Medic Mentor student community for the student committee roles?! Firstly, I would like to thank each and every applicant for spending time to complete the application form online. In just one short week, I received almost 150 applications from the wonderful students engaged with Medic Mentor, and shortlisting to appoint just fifteen students to form the committee. This was a wonderful response from you all and I enjoyed reading each application.
As I am sure each applicant can appreciate, shortlisting applications was no easy task! How can fifteen students be whittled down from almost 150? This has been one of my most challenging application reviews ever and so many strong applications to choose from. Back on 25th April, I published a blog post on how to make your application stand out, and it is clear how many students read the post and used the advice I provided, to make their application stand out.
Before heading to provide general feedback on the applications received, I wanted to reflect on the role of the student led committee. Part of setting up our Virtual Medical Society (VMS) Medic Mentor wanted to appoint a student-centred committee, which would work as a formidable group and ensure the content of the VMS was what our community wanted to learn and participate in, and ensure the content is being covered correctly. The committee members must provide essential leadership, vision and direction for the medical society going forward, but the committee is so much more than a leadership role, encompassing other vital skills, such as mentoring, delegators and innovative ideas to put forward to the virtual student community, ensuring strong content and support for all involved. As our VMS community has grown to over 500 members, the applications for the roles are even more prestigious as the committee will be a voice for all these students, and the number of members joining continue to grow!
Appointing the committee is a huge responsibility, therefore, I have approached the shortlisting of applications as rigorously as I have approached previous large recruitment roles, and whilst I appreciate the majority of applicants will be disappointed, please take the feedback constructively, as the application for next academic year will open in August, and students can reflect on this feedback to make an even stronger application next year, and possibly make my shortlisting task even more challenging!
I will start with the common mistakes I noted whilst reading through applications, so I can end this with the positive feedback! We appointed a deadline of 5pm on Thursday 30th April, so any applications received after this time, was automatically not considered. This may sound somewhat harsh, but one of the key skills of a committee member is time management, and with applications being announced one week ahead, there was ample time for applications to be researched, compiled and sent and applications received after the deadline, unfortunately does not demonstrate the time management skills I was looking for. I also received a number of applications that had no specific role or roles identified on application, and as a committee member needs to show decisive leadership, I was unable to shortlist applications that stated that they would be happy with any of the nine roles, as these applications could not display specific skills and experience for each job role. This is very similar to when you must choose 4 medical schools for your UCAS application; you were asked to list 3 preferences.
Each application stood out, but after the initial read through, there were still so many applications, so I had to become even stricter in shortlisting applicants, so the next benchmark had to be how involved with Medic Mentor students were displaying on application forms. Whilst I appreciate many students are relatively to new to our community, I had to bear in mind that the committee members will be welcoming new students to the ever growing community, and need to be knowledgeable on everything Medic Mentor does, and ultimately, be in a position where they can speak from experience and use their own reflections of Medic Mentor experience to support others, and recommend activities to complete. I am aware that a lot of students have found our support whilst in isolation during Covid-19 and becoming a campaigner, and as yet, have not had opportunities to get as involved with us as they would like, but it is important that the committee had a good foundation knowledge of Medic Mentor programmes and activities. Typical shortlisted students had expressed their involvement with three or more of the following activities and programmes;
- National Healthcare weekends (attended, volunteered, and/or presented at)
- School Ambassador/Leadership programme
- Awards Programme
- Submitted an essay/artwork for the Mentor magazine
- Submitted a essay for National Essay competition
- Covid-19 campaign volunteer
- Set up their own Medical Society at school following leadership teaching days
- Summer School
Unfortunately, a number of applications lied about previous involvement such as indicating that they were school ambassadors or attending summer school this year, when actually they are not. Lying on any application, results in disqualification. As future doctors, dentists and vets you are expected to be honest and maintain your integrity. Please do not lie on your UCAS applications.
Even after sorting applications into the level of involvement previously with Medic Mentor, there was still a huge amount of applications to consider, so I had to get really strict on finalising the shortlist, so I started looking a the quality of applications, and whilst the majority of applications were exceptionally strong, it was clear to see applications that I considered to be rushed through. Examples of rushed applications were answers using short bullet points, spelling and grammatical errors and stating experience, but not elaborating on this experience. Going forward, with any application, it is important to bear in mind that for recruiters who receive in excess of 100 applications, any tiny error or an application that is considered rushed, is a reason not to shortlist and this is never to be taken personally, but applications should stand out for the right reasons. For future applications to either the Student Committee, or paid employment, (and especially your UCAS applicant) please take your time, research the roles and reflect on your experiences/skills, providing clear examples of how you would be perfect for the job you are applying for!
Now I have gone through the common mistakes and reasons not to shortlist, I want to focus on the positive, because every application had the potential to join the committee, but there were stand out applications that were immediately shortlisted! As stated already, every shortlisted student has extensive involvement with Medic Mentor, but also in their involvement, there were applications that did not only state involvement, but reflected on how their involvement had shaped them as future medical/dental/vet students, helped necessary skills develop and conveyed how their involvement had given them an insight into the culture, vision and ethos of Medic Mentor community. Being able to demonstrate all this into the questions based on previous involvement with Medic Mentor really made these applications shine, and every shortlisted application contained this. Of course, it is easy to list every programme and activity students are involved with, but to tie this in to how their involvement has developed them as a person, really conveys how much these applicants want these positions.
Every shortlisted application also demonstrated that these individuals had really taken their time to research the role they wanted to apply for, clearly displaying the skills they imagined they would bring to the applied role, and supporting the skills with working examples from extra-curricular activities that they are involved in. Some of the applications even demonstrated experience in the roles they were applying for, for example, experience in school councils, planning and distributing agendas and taking meeting minutes. Each of the final shortlisted application forms, identified their skills relevant to the role that they wanted to apply to, provided a working example and elaborated further with how they planned to use this skill if selected into the committee. These were written so honestly and with conviction, the applications stood out as exceptionally strong.
One of the final strengths of the shortlisted applications is the recognition of other disciplines in the medical society. Our student committee will ultimately be responsible for the VMS and how it moves forward, I received the majority of applications mentioning future doctors only, but Medic Mentor also supports aspiring vets and dentists, so to receive applications acknowledging the wider community from an individual’s aspiration was wonderful to read, and really demonstrated the consideration for all students part of the VMS. Students were also highlighting how their desired committee role would fit into their overall career goal, and one application mentioning how this would prepare that individual for their foundation year training, really stuck in mind when I was working to shortlist application forms!
Last but not least, the very final decision to shortlist; time management! So many applications provided an extensive list of current extra-curricular activities, alongside school studies, revision for UCAT/BMAT, sports, music, volunteering, and work experience. So many applications put forward this extensive list, but at a crucial point in education, did not mention how they would plan to manage everything, and not become overwhelmed. Every single shortlisted applicant acknowledged that they were busy with all of those additional activities, but how time management and organisational skills would help them manage all commitments to the best of their abilities. The last thing we want is for the committee to focus all energies on the committee, forgetting school, UCAS and additional commitments, so to see this was acknowledged in the application was reassuring that I was making the correct decision for that individual!
I know the vast majority of applicants will be disappointed, but I want to take the time to thank each and every single person that was confident and committed enough to submit an application. I enjoyed reading each and every application form and learnt so much about our amazing community. You are all doing utterly amazing, inspiring things, and this will take you so far in life and your future career. Please remember, if you are not appointed into the committee, to not take this personally, reflect on what you could have done differently and apply again on the next cycle. I know I have shortlisted the strongest applications, and I cannot wait to see how the newly appointed committee will evolve the VMS going forward. This will be an amazing first committee, who will leave a legacy behind them when they progress to university, having really put their stamp on future committees. I look forward to reading next years applications …. Although after this, I have probably made my shortlisting job even harder next year!