My journey to Medicine has been rather atypical to say the least, but one that I am very much grateful for. I am currently in my first year of medical school, after only just graduating from the University of Nottingham last July with a degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience.
Although my first intention was not to study this degree, as medicine has always been my first choice, I found myself at a stumbling block after receiving my AS levels results. I received AABB and thus was only predicted AAB at the end of A2 (which I subsequently got). After receiving my results and predicted grades I had to make the decision as to whether I should apply that year with my current results and sit the UKCAT (going against the advice of my supervisor) or apply to study a different degree (which I did), smash A levels and try and apply once I’d received my A level results. In the end, I decided to apply to study Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience (PCN) at 4 Universities (only 4 Uni’s in the country do the course), knowing that my chances of getting into medicine in that year were quite slim, and study medicine straight after my degree.
When A-level results came, although I was still hoping to get AAA, in my heart I had already known I would get AAB and had accepted during the year that I’d be studying PCN for three years, with a determination to study medicine straight after. Although at first it seemed tedious and that I was wasting time, I have absolutely no regrets! I loved studying PCN and everything that came with it. I made life-long friends in Nottingham and developed an attachment to the city, which was difficult to let go of. In spite of this, I am now studying the degree I’ve wanted to since sixth form in a vibrant city, with a lot more maturity. I will touch on why I think it was worth doing a degree and jumping straight into medicine in my final segment.
How to do it
It’s quite obvious that every individuals journey into medicine is markedly different but the one thing all graduate entry students have in common is already having a degree. I personally feel like my application process was less demanding as I already had it in my mind that I was going to study medicine straight after my degree, but for some this may not be the case. You may have only decided that medicine is the course for you during your third year or even a couple of years after graduating which is perfectly acceptable. The main thing is that you’ve cemented that medicine is for you, even after studying for a few years. This drive and determination should carry you through what may seem like a never-ending application process and through medical school.
The first thing I would say is that whether you’re currently studying or you have already graduating, make sure you’re already in a volunteering role or that you have some sort of work experience in the last two years. The reason I say this is that many universities (e.g. Warwick) will have required your work experience to be within the last 2 years and thus, you cannot use the experience you may have gained whilst at sixth form or during your first application. Whilst in these relevant roles, it would be a good idea to take a notepad and jot down any interesting cases you may see or just anything you may find interesting or relevant in general. When it comes to you preparing for you interviews, these notes will be invaluable as it is quite likely that you may forget things you may have encountered whilst on the wards or at the elderly home. Having them in your notes on your iPhone enables a quick refresher and means you’ll be able to use them as examples in your interview.
Secondly, if you haven’t already, start considering the entrance exams you want to do and which Universities use which one. I took the decision to only do the UKCAT, partly because I knew if I only did one exam I’d perform better than trying to do two different ones and partly because my Uni’s of preference only used this entrance exam so there was really no point me doing the GAMSAT. This is all dependent on what your degree (or predicted) classification, your A level results and sometimes even your GCSE grades. Although many Uni’s that do graduate entry medicine only take into your account your degree classification and your entrance exam score, there are some that look at your entire portfolio which includes A level grades etc. A great guide that I first used was thestudentroom.co.uk (https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/university/courses/medicine/graduate-entry-medicine-a-guide) which really helped to expel any myths I had and guide me to the right universities to apply to.
Is it worth it?
Yes. Yes. And Yes.
During my first degree there was not one day where I had reconsidered applying to medicine and I really think this determination is what got me onto the course. Even though I’m only on the first year of the course, I have had no regrets and love most (it would be every if it wasn’t for biochemistry) moments I’ve encountered.
As a graduate it may seem daunting having to apply at a later stage in life and you start to question if it’s worth studying for another 4/5 years at Uni when you’re already 21+ but please do not let this deter you. I’m the youngest graduate on my course (I turn 22 in June) and the majority of my course mates are genuinely 24 and over. Age and the length of time we have to study has not phased all of the graduates on my course and you’ll actually find that when you are on the wards and meeting doctors, a significant proportion of them took the same route you are about to embark on. Already having a degree in your locker will definitely come in handy. You will have already developed your best studying habits and what type of learner you are, but most importantly once on the course you’ll realise that this is really the course for you. There is no better feeling than finally studying medicine after years of wanting to and you’ll begin to find that your first degree was just a step in God’s great masterplan!
Thank you for reading and good luck in your applications! Please contact me if you have any further queries or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Allan Nathans