Unlike many of my fellow students, and others who apply to medical school, I have never had that “eureka” moment. There has not been a comprehensible time where the stars aligned and I decided I wanted to be a doctor. It’s just something I always wanted to do, passionately, yet try as I might; I received a B for my maths A Level.
When you want to do something with all of your heart, the slightest feeling of doubt can have a profound effect, but here it was staring me in the face: there was no chance of me getting in to study undergraduate medicine with my grades. I needed a new plan.
After taking a gap year from school, getting a job as a health care assistant in the local hospital and visiting lots of universities, I realised that my best shot would be to do a degree in something that would interest me and apply again for Graduate Entry medicine (GEM). As soon as I arrived at Liverpool University, I knew that was where I wanted to be. The people were so friendly and the city looked like it had a lot to offer.
I threw myself into my Physiology degree and joined sports teams (specifically things I’d never done before: cheerleading and rowing. I was subsequently President and Vice President for cheer in my second and third years, and rowed with the first crew for the latter two years also). As well as enjoying an active social life and trying to keep on top of lectures!
During third year, the time came to pick the GEM courses I was going to apply to. If undergrad medicine was competitive, I soon had the realisation that GEM may even be more so – simply because there are far less places and you are eligible for another student loan (a comforting thought to all the parents out there!) I chose to take the GAMSAT as I thought that would put me in a positive minority: it would give me more options for applications, which to me outweighed the risk of getting a bad score (they’re released after you’ve applied, which is rather anxiety-inducing). I was tactical in my applications too, I applied only to those universities who wanted science degrees, with a high 2:1 or first (which I was predicted), and GAMSAT or no other entrance exams. I most definitely fit into the “average” category for UKCAT!
I was called for interview for Nottingham and Liverpool and after the mental marathon of the MMIs was placed on the waiting list for Notts. However, one morning while sitting in the front room of my student house (in my dressing gown, watching TV, contemplating on what may well be my last few weeks of University for a while) I received a call to ask me if I’d like a place on the GEM course at Liverpool.
I called my parents and they both burst into tears with me. After all the rejections and years spent trying to get in, I had finally done it. Of course it was a conditional offer, but I felt confident I was going to reach the grades.
Now in my second year of GEM (technically third year of the actual undergrad course as we skip first year), I still feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, that I’m finally studying for the career I’d always wanted. I’m glad that I had my first degree to do the social and sporting activities I did, as I would definitely not have the time now. Also I learned a lot about myself: how to organise my time, when I work best, and how to juggle all of my interests! If you truly want to study medicine, I would say NEVER give up. When there is no plan B as far as your career is concerned, keep going until you get there: I can promise you there is no better feeling!
(2nd year GEM/ 3rd year medical student)