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Old Girl returns to share her experiences of studying medicine

Former Girls’ High Student, Esha Vasia, returned to school on Tuesday to talk about her life after WGHS with Year 12 students. Esha, formerly of Ferrers House, is now a 5th Year medical student at the University of Birmingham.

Esha did Biology, Chemistry and Maths at A Level. She also volunteered for 1 hour per week in a care home to support her university applications, alongside a part time job – she advises that to study medicine she believes human experience is essential to access the programmes. So even though her job was as a waitress in a restaurant, the human interaction and obstacles she had to overcome were equally as beneficial to her at interview to access her degree.

Esha’s Key tips when looking at universities.

1.      Look at universities early!

2.      Be realistic.

3.      Have a back-up plan – if your first choice doesn’t work out have a back-up that you are still going to enjoy!

4.      UCAT – if you want to study medicine or dental programmes you must sit the UCAT, maybe consider taking courses or tuition.

5.      The Student Room – The student room is an online community for thousands of students. Looking at other people’s experiences can sometimes be helpful, but everyone is different so don’t be put off or hold too much hope.

6.      Talk to people you know in medicine – they have been where you are and are now in that working world so could offer real insight for you for life after university.

7.      Believe in yourself – confidence is key. Part of the process to being accepted for medicine or dentistry is an interview, you have to sell yourself!

Esha’s university tips.

1.      Join societies – this is a great opportunity to meet new people. Also, there are lots of leadership roles as they are student led – great for medical students! Medicine have their own societies as they tend to be fairly limited on time and people on the same degree path appreciate that.

2.      Network – Linked In, Connect with people – this can be a great way to make contacts for placements, internships, summer jobs as well as after graduation.

3.      Get a part time job – again its another way to meet new people, ‘human experience’ as well as the extra money you need if you’re living away from home. With medicine they recommend no more than 10 hours per week.

4.      Prioritise yourself and your mental health!!!

5.      Consider your options – nothing is the end of the world, don’t rush, take the right path for you. Everyone is on a different timeline at medical school.

Q & A

1.      Has your perception of medicine changed?

People say you will get any job you want. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I will be taking tests and exams as long as I stay in the profession so you have to be prepared for that. I prefer the people side, I like talking, so I’m considering a role in Public Health. You don’t have to be a doctor there are so many options.


2.      What do you like the most about University of Birmingham?

The people! There are people like me, there are really ethnically mixed areas, lots of northerners and people don’t take themselves too seriously. Most people there have similar life experiences to me.


3.      What’s your timetable like?

There’s no attendance taken like at school, lectures are recorded so in 1st and 2nd year if you aren’t there you can catch up. If you are a good student it’s 9-5 timetable. In the later years it very self-led with placements, teaching in hospitals, again it’s 9-5 really.


4.      Will the level of degree affect your career choice?

Medicine works differently, there’s no firsts or 2:1 or anything it’s a pass. I don’t think hospitals have access to scores they just no you have a degree in medicine. That’s why its so important to network and connect with people and companies linked with your university.


5.      How did you revise for your A Levels?

I’m a crammer so left it late which I wouldn’t advise. Past papers work well for me too. Everyone is different though – I’m not great for revising. I’d advise keep good habits now. Take notes and go over them because then when you come to revise the information is already there.


6.      Did your grade improve from your mocks?

Yes, I did terribly in mocks – you can always turn things around!


7.      Do you have any advice for Interview Questions to go into medicine?

Always be respectful to all career paths. If you are asked about doctor versus nursing  talk about the leadership qualities needed to be a doctor and that is what you are interested in but always acknowledge the importance of all paths in medicine.


8.      Would you get a job at University?

Yes, I’d advise to. It gives you more money and experience. If you can balance it and it doesn’t affect your mental health and you can enjoy it, do it.


9.      Why pick University of Birmingham?

For me it was a more academic university; its campus based and close to home. I love that its campus based, everything happens there, nights out, student events it feels safer. Also, first years all live together so its good to make friends.


10.  How do you know which Uni’s link to companies for placements and jobs after graduation?

Look at league tables; talk to people; research – you can usually see where university courses might link to large companies in the area that specialise in that field. Again networking is really important too.

11.  How do you decide whether to live at home or away at Uni?

For me I lived at Uni for the 4 years but have moved back home in my 5th year. Living at Uni is great, but it can be hard on your own, especially if you moved further away from home as you have a limited support system. I don’t think I could have done my 5th year at Uni so I’m glad I moved home, luckily my parents aren’t too strict. I’d say its important to find a balance if you live away. Don’t come home every weekend because you miss out and it might be more difficult to make friends. Definitely do what’s best for you – don’t risk your mental health!




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