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Tom left a successful finance career in London to study Graduate Entry Medicine. Find out what motivated him and how he navigated the competitive GEM application process.

Why Medicine?

There was no real eureka moment for me. At school, I hadn’t chosen the “right” A-Levels for Medicine, and so it didn’t cross my mind as a career.

However, as my career in finance progressed and I found moments to reflect, I had a nagging feeling that Medicine was something I wanted to do. When I had a chance to sit down and consider my future in-depth, I decided to explore how feasible it would be to start again and study to become a Doctor.

Now that I’ve secured a place on a Graduate Entry Medicine course, I’m really looking forward to the whole journey. I can’t wait to start learning new things to put into practice, to be part of the medical community, and to find out what type of doctor I am most suited to be.

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What steps did you take next?

I discovered that there were certain Medicine courses open to someone with my background (non-science A-Levels and degree, followed by a non-medical career).

I attended Medicine open days for both Graduate Entry and Undergraduate courses. I spoke to doctor friends, some of whom had completed GEM programmes.

I also asked myself a series of questions to make sure I was truly making the right decision. For instance, would I be able to perform hands-on medical care without being squeamish? I set about answering these questions by undertaking work experience and writing a ‘medical CV’ to set out my experience and present myself as an aspiring medic.

Whilst doing this, I found that I had developed many skills in my other career that were transferable to Medicine, such as teamwork, communication and responsibility. I also thought about how a medical career would work practically, given my personal and financial circumstances.

Having answered these questions for myself, I felt confident in my choice of Medicine. Doing all of this also helped me to explain myself and justify my choice at interview.

What work experience did you do?

I decided to apply to study Medicine in my mid-thirties, with a non-medical background and no sciences at A-Level or as a degree.

For this reason, I wanted to use work experience for two purposes. Firstly, to answer my own questions about pursuing Medicine as a career, and secondly, to stand out from the crowd at interview.

I researched what might be the best experience by listening to admissions tutors at open days, reading prospectuses and admissions policies, as well as talking to doctor friends. Having identified what I felt I needed to do, I looked up appropriate organisations and called several until I found suitable placements.

How were the Graduate Entry interviews?

Interviewers seemed most interested in my time at a care home, where I had spent over 100 hours. It involved hands-on healthcare during 7 to 12-hour shifts several times per week as a junior member of the caring team.

This sort of hands-on work allows you to reflect on what it might be like to work long hours in a hospital ward as a Junior Doctor. It also put me outside my comfort zone, doing a type of job I had never done before and being a junior member of a team, having previously managed others.

What advice would you give to other Graduate Entry applicants?

My advice would be to research and think carefully what type of work experience you need to confirm that Medicine is the right path for you and make you stand out in your application.

During and after the experience, take time to reflect on what you have learned and how it demonstrates that you are cut out to be a doctor.

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