Applying for medicine - how important is d of e, really?

(112 Posts)
Pumpkintopf Tue 08-Jan-19 22:05:49

Hoping for some advice from those of you whose DC's have gone off to be med students or anyone with experience of admissions-

I understand that top grade a levels are a prerequisite of course, plus UKCAT/BMAT scores, performance at interview and relevant work experience.

My question is, does anyone take the Duke of Edinburgh award into account, or perhaps more to the point would it be a disadvantage not to have achieved at least silver, working towards gold? Ds's school does not currently offer it so wondering how much I should encourage them to do so.

Sorry I know it sounds ridiculous but I know how competitive med school applications are and don't want him to miss out for the want of something that we could potentially fix.

Thanks very much.

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Au79 Tue 08-Jan-19 22:28:19

It’s a way to get some good stuff on your cv like voluntary work, organisation, challenge, but I noticed a lot of those boxes are already ticked for some dcs. Do they do a sport, music, voluntary work outside school already? It seems to be biased towards outdoorsy type camping expeditions, great if that floats your boat but I can’t believe that is really showing what a great medic you would be, above other pursuits!

I’m happy to be corrected but I discouraged dc2 as she hates camping and was already run ragged with her own choice of equally worthy pursuits. Plus it was really expensive and school dumped organising it this year.

Pumpkintopf Tue 08-Jan-19 22:34:02

Thanks Au - he does do music, is on track for achieving his grade 8, and plays quite a bit of sport.

The voluntary work probably wouldn't happen unless it was required for something like d of e, or relevant to med school applications realistically.

He doesn't mind camping etc but organising all this would be additional work so just wanted to get some feedback as to what extent it might damage his chances not to have it.

OP’s posts: |
Abetes Tue 08-Jan-19 22:38:39

Makes absolutely no difference at all. Voluntary work at a hospital or old people’s home would though so better to do that instead.

steppemum Tue 08-Jan-19 22:39:58

so many people do bronze and even silver, that unless you do Gold it isn't going to stand out.

But it is important to have things which do make you stand out. eg my dd is really into scouts, going to the World Jamboree etc, and plays in a brass band.
The she needs something whihc is a bit more community/ voluntary based. She is doing Dof E, but only because it fits with scouting.

My ds on the other hand doesn't do much out of school nothing so he has done bronze and silver to give him something.

MedSchoolRat Tue 08-Jan-19 22:41:21

Where I work, No DoE would not be a disadvantage.
I don't see how it could ever be used to disadvantage applicants. We're super aware of widening participation so try not to give credit to something applicants can only do if they are rich or have non-universal opportunities. Applicants can't be responsible for what is reasonably available where they live. DoE will be harder to achieve in some communities than others.

DoE can be useful to give them personal stories that show they are good leaders, resourceful, resilient, etc. Useful, not important.

I am impressed by Gold DoE, that said. If I was asking a question about stamina or commitment, hearing they also did Gold DoE would tilt scores upwards.

DrMadelineMaxwell Tue 08-Jan-19 22:42:03

DD was told that they weren't really looking for extra curricular (music/sports) but that they were much more interested in supra curricular. So things that are related to the subject of the degree like St John's ambulance/volunteering in hospital etc much more useful.


MedSchoolRat Tue 08-Jan-19 22:44:01

ps: and I give even more credit to anyone who has worked as an HCA (!). Agree that work experience, especially gritty WE, can be a lot more relevant & useful.

BartonHollow Tue 08-Jan-19 22:45:53

A relative did medicine and got a place at one of the top 3

She did D of E
She did hospital volunteering

But the ONE difference on paper between her and the girl who was Head Girl and got rejected?

She had a part time job and the other girl had never got one because her parents wanted her to focus on studies

Haffdonga Tue 08-Jan-19 22:47:09

Funny, I asked ds this last week. He's a second year med student and did the whole gamut of D of E, volunteering etc etc. He did all the stuff but never collected his gold award and I said what a waste of time. He disagreed as he felt it gave him really useful examples of things to talk about at interview. The volunteering in a care home gave him loads more confidence dealing with people than he'd had before.

In the end if you're a good blagger and in interview can talk about an example of teamwork or empathy or whatever then it's probably not necessary to go on a 50 mile hike and volunteer for a year. If you're someone like ds who doesn't have that gift then the real life experience may help.

However none of the 4 med schools he had interviews at asked a single direct question about his volunteering or work experience. It was all up to him to give the examples.

BartonHollow Tue 08-Jan-19 22:48:31

A good idea as a volunteer or part time job which would be a boost would be supporting a family with an SN child.

Pumpkintopf Tue 08-Jan-19 22:51:21

Excellent and thought provoking advice, thank you all, good discussion points around whether gold would be achievable and whether DS feels it might help him at interview.

OP’s posts: |
Pumpkintopf Tue 08-Jan-19 22:51:45

*if he's lucky enough to get that far of course!

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JennyHolzersGhost Tue 08-Jan-19 22:58:47

Scouting is a useful alternative although in practice there tends to be a lot of overlap.

steppemum Tue 08-Jan-19 23:00:15

I have heard that about part time jobs a LOT actually.

Given a choice between 2 candidates, people do love to see that you have worked, there are so many things that gives you, including things like being able to do as you are told!

and it is the things you learn along the way that count. I agree as well with interviews, one thing you can do for a teen is to get them to link their life experiences with interview questions. So, my neice made a comment about her town based on what she had seen when volunteering in the charity shop. My brother said - hold on to that thought and use it if you go to an interview.
Why? she said - surely everyone would see that? No, that;s the point, you noticed and reflected on it, and many wouldn't. She was surprised!

peteneras Tue 08-Jan-19 23:19:31

I would say, in the grand scheme of things, DoE means absolutely nothing at all for Medicine especially in the more academic schools like Oxbridge. DS, now a F2 junior doctor had tons of extra-curricular activities including DoE (coming from a full boarding school that places great importance on activities outside the classroom) but I honestly do not remember he put DoE in his UCAS application form. My advice is to go for experiences involving care, any type of care, of people old and young alike. In my opinion, even sporting achievements do not match with caring experiences in the eyes of medical schools.

maryso Tue 08-Jan-19 23:39:28

Having had 3 go through the process relatively recently, I would say doing extremely well on the UKCAT/BMAT is the most important on paper (That is what entrance tests are for.). At interview, having enough life experience (from whatever source) to demonstrate you have the attributes asked for will get you offers. Not one of mine did D of E or worked in health care (too young), although they volunteered at the local charity shop/s. Mostly they were busy with growing up and doing what they enjoyed, as with most teenagers. Gap year and graduate applicants tend to do better because they have seen a bit more of life, which is why care experience is so valued.

VamillaSugar Tue 08-Jan-19 23:42:13

Funnily enough, this was featured on Radio 4 this morning. An admissions tutor said that working in a shop/cafe was just as valuable as grade 6 flute/DoE - if not more so, as you’re dealing with the customers interface and will have to find solutions to problems.

Pumpkintopf Wed 09-Jan-19 07:54:21

It's so useful to hear from people who have first hand experience of this, thanks so much for your replies all.

OP’s posts: |
steppemum Wed 09-Jan-19 08:37:46

if he isn't interested in Dof E and it isn;t his thing, he will never make it to gold, and it is a LOT of work. Few enough people make it to gold that they are still awarded at the Palace.

Much better to do something else for life experience.
ds is 16, and doing GCSEs, and he is going to find a summer job (if he can) after GCSE. He is very motivated, becuase he wants the money, but I am encouraging him because I think it is great experience for him.

bengalcat Wed 09-Jan-19 09:01:51

Unless it’s a Gold do something else .

BubblesBuddy Wed 09-Jan-19 09:10:24

Was it an admissions tutor for medicine? Medics won’t just want working in a shop. However I do think a few universities look at the amount a child does in addition to studying because they want to know they can manage the workload. So working in a shop doesn’t necessarily trump playing in a county orchestra, for example. Many medics are multi talented.

For a medic, doing volunteering in the right field would be better than working in a shop if time is at a premium. Most people don’t problem solve in shops at age 16/17. They take the money and the supervisors problem solve. Playing in an orchestra takes far more dedication and talent and certainly shows commitment and working with others. Just having a flute lesson every week and taking exams isn’t the same although the commitment must be there.

With all medic courses, read what they value and do it but D of E isn’t especially valuable other than getting your foot in the door for volunteering.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 09-Jan-19 09:11:46

DofE is pretty much irrelevant for any uni application.

It is something to do - if it suits the DC and your situation - as an end in itself, not a means to an end. My DD found it a very valuable experience overall but it figured as about half an irrelevant sentence on her personal statement.

For the OPs DS, it sounds like he’d be better off concentrating on his music and on volunteering activities, in particular ones relevant to his aspirations. (Some of those may not be possible till he’s over 16.)

VamillaSugar Wed 09-Jan-19 09:15:39

bubblesbunny It was, actually. Yesterday’s Today programme. About 7.50am.

Needmoresleep Wed 09-Jan-19 10:23:14

I think it is the doing 'something' that is important, especially if that 'something' involves communicating with different people within the community, evidences the ability for sustained commitment, and shows you can juggle.

I am not sure which courses Bubbles is talking about as shop work would seem fine for most. DD was lucky enough to spend a summer working in a care home, and two years volunteering weekly with a sports scheme for disabled people. But we are in London so there are plenty of options. Rural kids, or those who need to earn, wont have the same choices.

It also depends on medical school. Some appear to prioritise top flight academic potential. Others seem more focussed on the wider skill set. Just as well. If they all had the same priorities the same applicants would have all the offers. It is highly likely DD will want some sort of busy patient facing role, whist a couple of her school classmates may well be aiming for academic/research medicine. DD is really enjoying a hands on course with early patient contact. But luckily medical students and courses are different.

The real value of volunteering for DD was discovering that she enjoyed working with the elderly and/or disabled. (Working a ski season during her gap year then put her off any idea of specialising in paediatrics.) Having informed enthusiasm makes an interview easier.

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