Afeefa Kranthi, a
former student of Havergall Schools, who is currently studying Medicine at Gulf Medical University in Ajman.
When did you first know you wanted to study Med? What made you opt for it?
Honestly, I only realised I wanted to do medicine in year 12 but I’ve always had a passion towards studying biology (especially content related to the human body). I’ve been exposed to the world
of the doctor quite early purely because my dad is a doctor and watching him inspired me to lean towards the medical field.
What advice would you offer about selecting subjects at school in order to eventually apply for Med?
Chemistry is a must for pretty much all medical universities. As for other subjects I suggest you look at the uni requirements; the UK for instances prefers 2 of your A-level subjects being
sciences, however, medical universities in the UAE favour those who did all 3 sciences for GCSE and A-levels.
What else should a prospective Med student do to prepare themselves for applying?
An important thing to remember when building up your medical application is that it isn’t all about the grades anymore. Most students that apply for a course like medicine have the top grades,
so in order to make your application stand out you must show evidence of having being involved in extracurricular activities. Oh and work experience is a must! Try and get plenty of work
experience from different hospitals (preferably private care hospitals and public hospitals) just so that you really see the differences in healthcare.
What makes a good Med applicant/application?
Grades Showing you have the motivation and determination to study medicine through things like work experience or research projects that you may have carried out Providing evidence of
your communication skills preferably through any extracurricular activities you’ve been involved in.
Did you have any other options as a back-up plan?
I applied to both the UK and the UAE (UAE mostly because my parents wanted me to live with them and didn’t want to see me leave). However, there are plenty of other countries where you can
apply for medicine such as places like Prague (which I’ve heard has very good medical programmes). I did also apply for biomedical sciences as my 5th option in the UK but I didn’t really
feel like wanting to continue on with another course if I didn’t get into med school.
What advice would you give about selecting a University/Med School? Why did you choose yours?
I would suggest that you thoroughly do your research on the methods of teaching at the universities you are interested in applying to. In my uni, I’m taught through lectures, projects,
assignments and CBL/PBL (case based learning/problem based learning). I’d also advice on applying to a uni with a good location in terms of the ease of transport and depending on whether or
not you like the hectic or quiet lifestyle. I mainly chose my uni (gulf medical university of ajman) because throughout my course we are taught how to handle questions given in the USMLE or PLAB
(medical entrance exams to be able to practice in USA or the UK).
Also, this uni has a good reputation and is the most well known/recognised one amongst other unis in the UAE. Additionally, I have some friends that attend this uni so that too influenced my decision
(only slightly though).
Another key factor influencing my decision, was the fact that my course is integrated and not taught in the traditional way - so it basically helps makes the links between different parts of medicine
(pathology, anatomy, microbiology, embryology etc) The strengths would the fact that the uni greatly helps with the transition from undergrad to actually being able to study further and therefore
practice medicine. As for the weaknesses I would just say that the accents of the professors are hard to understand at first but you eventually get used to them so its all good!
Based on your experience and knowledge, what would you say about alternative routes into studying Med?
Most people take the route of completing another course prior to studying medicine such as biochemistry, biomedical sciences or pharmacology. Honestly speaking though, it really doesn’t matter what
course you study before hand, I know people who have studied courses like dentistry or even engineering before studying medicine and they seem to be doing well - as long as you’re determined, it all
plays out well for you!
Did you have to go through an interview? Can you remember what sorts of things you were asked? Any tips about preparing for this?
Most medical unis do require their applicants to sit an interview (the part most people fear). I was mainly questioned on my scientific knowledge and on my awareness of current medical research or
even the history about medicine. In order to prep for interviews I would suggest using the medical interviews book by isc medical or even asking another medical student about the questions they were
asked and possibly ask them to give you a trial interview.
What has been your favourite part of studying Med?
Since I’m only in my first year of med school, Ive not really dug deep into medicine but I did feel my passion for anatomy flare whilst studying that particular module.
What has been the most challenging part?
One thing that I struggled most with was, easing the transition between school and uni; purely because you’re left with more to do at uni and unfortunately aren’t given the information just like
At what stage do you begin to specialise? What will you specialise in?
The whole specialisation process varies according to each country and to be honest, I’m quite confused about it to but it doesn’t matter I have another 5 years to figure that part out! Its hard to
say what I will specialise in because the further into the course you go, the more you realise what aspects of medicine you love - things you thought you loved might even turn out to be your biggest
nightmare. However, as of now, I’m leaning towards becoming a neurosurgeon or orthopaedics sports surgeon (definitely decided on being a surgeon though).
What about employment? Where and how would you expect to find employment? Is there a definitive career plan mapped out for you?
The same goes for employment as it does with specialisation; I’m not too sure where I see myself studying. However, I do aim to sit both the USMLE and PLAB, so, hopefully that shall help me
Any other advice you would give to prospective Med students?
None other than the cliche phrase of telling you to work hard so that you have no regrets when going through the whole application process thinking you could’ve worked that little bit harder to boost
your grades up a bit.