This blog lists some key attributes and qualities which are required to study Medicine. These are attributes which medical school admissions teams will be looking for from candidates when deciding who should be given an offer to study Medicine. We will discuss:

• Why is it essential for medical students to possess these attributes? How does it make them good doctors?
• Why do medical school’s admissions teams want applicants to possess these attributes as early as the medical school application stage? Are they not taught at medical school?

Where are these attributes derived from?

These specific attributes have been chosen by the Medical Schools Council who have mapped these attributes based on the constitution of the NHS; the GMC’s Guide to Good Medical Practice (a document produced by the GMC, the regulatory body for all doctors in the UK, which is the fundamental ethical guidance which underpins medical practice in the UK) and other official guidance. Individual medical schools will highlight their own attributes which they want to see in students, which will typically be in the same vein as those listed here.

What about grades, UKCAT etc.?

This is a list of key values, personal attributes and qualities that are needed to study Medicine. This is not a list of requirements such as academic grades, admissions tests or work experience, although these are precisely some of the things that will provide evidence that a candidate possesses the attributes listed here. These attributes are things which in medical school you will further develop, practice, learn more about and be taught – but they are all qualities which should already be part of your personality and nature.

Group 1

• Motivation to study medicine and genuine interest in the medical profession
• Insight into your own strengths and weaknesses
• The ability to reflect on your own work
• Personal organisation
• Academic ability
• Problem-solving

Medical degrees are longer than most degrees and are challenging. A robust motivation and interest in Medicine is a crucial determinant in predicting if an applicant will be able to complete a medical degree and sustain a long career in this intellectually demanding profession with heavy workloads. This is why medical schools place such emphasis on looking for candidates with evidence of genuinely strong motivation and interest in Medicine (over a sustained period, not just a hasty decision). Medical schools want candidates with good personal insight who can, therefore, understand the commitment needed to be a doctor and have the academic ability, personal organisation and problem-solving skills to meet this challenge.

Being a doctor requires a lifelong commitment to continually learn new skills and knowledge and keep existing ones up to date as science continuously advances. A doctor must be able to identify and be open about the limits of their abilities and know what they are competent to do unassisted, assisted or not at all. They must know when to seek help. An applicant to medical school who has a good insight of their abilities, reflects on their work, is organised, has problem-solving skills and is honest, is more likely to be able to continue to develop these skills as a doctor and practice Medicine in this way.

Group 2

• Ability to treat people with respect
• Empathy and the ability to care for others.
• Conscientiousness
• Ability to take responsibility for your own actions
• Honesty

These values are important as doctors should treat patients with dignity and respect and remain professional at all times. Doctors should treat patients based on clinical need and not allow their personal beliefs to affect the care that they deliver to patients.

Honesty is essential as doctors should work to uphold the great deal of trust, influence and responsibility that society grants the medical profession. Doctors should be upfront and honest about their abilities and any mistakes that they make. They should speak out when there are concerns about patient safety or poor standards of care.

Medical schools look for applicants who show personal responsibility, respect and empathy as these are indicators that an applicant will be able to provide the type of care discussed above. Medical schools ask applicants about any police cautions, convictions or disciplinary proceedings as they want applicants who are honest and take personal responsibility for their actions. Doctors are required to disclose cautions and police convictions to their regulatory body if these things happen during their careers.

Group 3

• Ability to deal with uncertainty
• Resilience and the ability to deal with difficult situations
• Risk management and an ability to deal effectively with problems

Doctors must be able to apply knowledge and skills to patients who can sometimes present in very unusual and unexpected ways. Patients can have complex conditions and medical needs which require careful consideration as an action in one area can affect another. Doctors must be able to make decisions with incomplete or conflicting information. Reaching a diagnosis can be like trying to solve a puzzle. The best course of action may not always be immediately apparent, and doctors must be able to manage this uncertainty and apply their skills to come to a good outcome. Unexpected outcomes frequently occur. Academic ability, an aptitude for problem-solving, the ability to handle ambiguity, stress and challenging circumstances are vital traits which medical schools look for in applicants as it suggests that candidates will be able to apply these skills to clinical settings in the future.

Group 4

• Insight into your own health
• Honesty

Like everyone, doctors are affected by ill health. This is not a problem unless it affects a doctor’s ability to care for patients safely. This means doctors must have high levels of self-awareness about how their health affects their work and be open and honest about this. They must know when to seek independent advice from others, e.g. their GP or occupational health. There is a great deal of support available for medical students and doctors to be assisted in being able to work despite having health issues or disabilities.

This is why medical schools will ask applicants about health conditions or disabilities at the point of entry in to medical school. This is to ensure that students are given the correct support and have sufficient understanding of the impact that their condition might have on their ability to study Medicine and become a doctor. Applicants must be open and honest about their health in the application process.

Group 5

• Effective communication, including reading, writing, listening and speaking
• Teamwork

These are essential skills required to be a medical student and doctor. Communication is one of the attributes most valued by patients. Team-work is vital in Medicine. Doctors work with other doctors and with many other professions within healthcare and outside of it too such as social workers and the police. Doctors also have roles such as teaching other students and professionals, giving presentations, conveying information in oral and written form (such as reports, medical notes, publications) and to all types of people. Medical schools look for students with excellent communication and teamwork skills as students will need these attributes so that they can use them in medical school where they will be taught how to apply these skills to clinical settings.

How can Medicine Answered help me get a place at Medical school?

Medicine Answered exists to do everything we possibly can to maximise your chances of gaining entry into your first choice of Medical school. Use our free guides on any aspect of the application process or attend one of our Medicine interview courses in Manchester, Leeds, London and various other cities across the UK. We also offer one to one tuition by a doctor. All of our courses and tuition is delivered only by doctors who received all four out of four medical school offers.