My name is Kirk Chalmers and I’ve just finished my first year at medical school – it was absolutely amazing! It’s strange to think that this time one year ago I had my offer, and now I’m about to go into my second year! Time really does fly. I remember feeling incredibly apprehensive before going to university, but excited at the same time. Being the first in my family to go to university made it even scarier, I had no idea what to expect!
Entry into medical school is by no means an easy task. The application process alone requires a huge amount of commitment. Before even starting my application, I had to prepare myself for the emotional roller-coaster – which it proved to be! Additionally, I knew that the route I intended to take was not a common one. This made me even more nervous – I didn’t know if I’d stand a chance. But anything is possible if you’re passionate about it, right?
Medicine is something that has always captured my interest. The ability to work in with people from all backgrounds who are at their most vulnerable, is one of the many reasons I want to become a doctor. I suppose growing up with two parents who work for the NHS gave me an insight into the medical field, but no real experience of it. My first proper exposure to medicine came from my work experience.
Although I had always pondered with the idea of becoming a doctor during school, I never thought it would be possible for me. As a result, I had set myself up for a career in geology instead. I had a real love for geography during my GCSE years and thus, decided to carry it on at A-level. I didn’t take chemistry at A-level (which would have limited my chance of getting onto an undergraduate medicine course anyway). In the summer of 2013 I achieved grades AAAA in my AS levels, but despite getting way higher than my predicted grades, medicine was still more of a dream for me at this point.
Following those results, I carried on three subjects to A2. It was during my A2 year in sixth form when I began to properly think about a career in medicine. Spending hours emailing different organisations for any sort of work experience was a gruelling task. Following several rejections, I felt so demoralised to the point I could have easily given up, but I knew that this was all part of the journey – I had to persevere. Then one day, I was finally offered some work experience in a clinical and surgical setting. This was a major victory in itself! I took countless learning points from these experiences.
Fast forward a few months and I was planning my application to medical school. My work experience solidified the idea of medicine in my head – it was the career I wanted. However, I knew that an undergraduate course would not be suitable for me due to my lack of chemistry A-level, but I quickly realised that there were plenty more options available, including foundation and graduate-entry courses. Despite the possibility of getting onto a foundation course, I decided to postpone my application and apply the following year (for 2015 entry).
After postponing my university career by one year, I knew that I needed to gain an A-level in chemistry. I was determined to get onto an undergraduate course. It was during that academic year (2014/2015) I applied to medical schools whilst completing AS and A2 chemistry together. Following the unbearable wait to hear back from each of the four universities I applied to, I was over the moon when I found out that I had been offered a place at each of them! My sixth form were in shock, just as much as I was! And a few months later I opened my results sheet and saw the letter ‘A’. The wait was finally over. I was going to medical school… Despite that year being hectic, it was one of the most memorable for me. It taught me a lot about my strengths and weaknesses.
Everyone should try their best to enjoy the application process, even though it’s a bit of an emotional roller-coaster! Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your ambitions. If you want it, you’ll need to work for it, but you can do it!
I wish all of you the best of luck!