The first time I applied to medical school I struggled to grasp the concept of receiving no offers, despite it being a very real possibility. The thought of four rejections is daunting and you may be thinking it’s the worst case scenario, but let me explain why it isn’t as scary as it first may seem.
I have said this before and I will say it again: reapplying to medical school was the best education and experience I could have asked for. If you find yourself in a situation where you have no medicine offers and you are unsure what to do, do not settle into panic or self-pity mode. This may just be an amazing opportunity for you, if you let it!
I applied to four medical schools and I remember feeling lost, embarrassed and defeated when that final rejection came through on UCAS. I received an offer for Pharmacy from one of the universities and I had my back up offer for Biomedicine, but I didn’t really want to do either of them.
ACTION POINT: Think about whether you really want to do medicine and if you do feel swayed by other offers, ensure you’re not just choosing to do another course for the sake of it.
Read our top tips on reapplying to medicine>>
At this point, I had not taken my A-Level exams so I decided to work my socks off and get the best grades I possibly could. I told myself if I made the grades for medicine I’d re-apply again, if not then I’d take a year out anyway to decide what I wanted to do next.
ACTION POINT: Do not allow rejections to affect your academic performance; the world is still your oyster! Try your absolute best and know that you have time to think this through – no rushed decisions!
Read which A-Levels do you need to be a doctor?
Luckily, I got the grades needed so it was time to start reapplying. I reflected a lot on my application and interview performance and to me it was clear why I had not made the cut. My UKCAT score was below average, I could gain more experience and I did not have enough confidence in myself. I emailed the universities for feedback on my application and that was helpful too.
ACTION POINT: Time to be critical of yourself. Look at what you could improve and really work on that! It could be your experience, grades, UKCAT/BMAT, interview technique or personal statement. Email universities asking for feedback and if possible how you ranked/scored.
Read our UCAT guide>>
So I spent my whole gap year working and volunteering (in the UK, nothing fancy), getting involved in everything I could get my hands on (after all, I had the time). Everything I did was with medicine in mind, and I found it hard to justify something if it wasn’t beneficial to my application.
Sounds intense, but nailing the admissions tests and packing my year with experience (which grew my confidence tenfold) landed me four interviews and four offers for medicine.
ACTION POINT: More is more! In your personal statement you’ll have to explain what you intend to do on a gap year anyway, so you might as well make it interesting and try things that you haven’t had the time to do before. Get involved in everything. I found that the smallest opportunity often gifted bigger opportunities that you’d never have known about if it wasn’t for that first step!
See what medical work experience and volunteering med schools look for>>
In conclusion, rejection one year does not mean it’s the end of the medicine road, or that it’s not meant to be. It just means you have another shot to shine even brighter. Make sure you use this opportunity to better yourself, experience new things and enjoy yourself! Good luck and stay positive!
Words: Katie Burrell
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