There was no eureka moment for me.
I hadn’t chosen the “right” A-Levels for medicine, and so it didn’t cross my mind as a career at school. However, as my other career progressed and I found moments to reflect, I had a nagging feeling that maybe Medicine really was something I wanted to do.
When I had a chance to sit down and consider my long-term future in-depth, I decided to see how practical starting again and studying to be a Doctor would be.
Now that I’ve secured a place on a graduate entry 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.
I discovered that there were courses open to someone with my background (non-science A-levels and degree, non-medical career).
I attended Medicine open days for both graduate entry and undergraduate courses. I spoke to doctor friends, some of whom had been on graduate entry programmes.
I also asked myself a series of questions about my career. For instance, could I perform “hands-on” medical care without being squeamish? I set about answering them by doing certain types of work experience and writing a “medical CV” to set out my experience and present myself as an aspiring medic.
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 worked out how a medical career would work practically, given my personal and financial circumstances.
Having answered the questions for myself, I felt confident in my choice of Medicine. I also think it helped me to be myself and explain my choice at the interview.
I decided to apply to study Medicine on a graduate-entry programme in my mid-thirties, with a non-medical background and no science at A-level or as a degree.
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 on the internet and called several until I found suitable placements.
Interviewers seemed most interested in my time at a care home, where I spent over 100 hours. It involved hands-on healthcare during seven to 12-hour shifts several times per week as a junior member of the caring team.
The 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. I was also outside my comfort zone, doing a job I had never done and as the junior member of a team having previously managed others.
However, despite not having direct caring experience, you can show how your skills developed in other places can be applied in a care setting, for example, teamwork, learning new skills and communication.
My advice would be to research and think carefully what type of work experience you need to answer your questions and make you stand out.
During and after the experience, take time to reflect on what you have found out and how it shows you (and your interviewer) that you are cut out to be a Doctor.
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