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Didn’t get an offer? Take a Medicine gap year!

Being rejected from medical school is a painful experience – especially when you’ve gone to so much effort to make your application as strong as possible. This blog includes our top 3 tips to help you shake off those Medical-School-blues and get back on track to follow your dream of becoming a doctor.

1. Don’t give up

First things first – don’t let rejections dampen your spirit! You were born to study Medicine, and no matter what admissions tutors thought of your application this year, study Medicine is what you shall do!

Instead of crawling under your duvet and refusing to emerge for the next five years, try and stay positive. You are clever, have great personal attributes and were destined for Medicine. Try and assess what you think might have gone wrong with your application this time round. There may be various aspects of it that weren’t as strong as they could be.

A great way to investigate your rejections is to call or write to the universities you applied to. Ask for feedback on your application and interviews. Whilst universities don’t necessarily have to provide students with feedback, if you ask nicely they are likely to give you some information on how to improve, and where you might have gone wrong.

You also need to comb through your application yourself. Perhaps get a parent or teacher to go through it with you. Are your exam grades as good as they could be? Have you got enough relevant work experience? Did you do much volunteer work? What are your extra-curricular activities? You might find it useful to read our page on Reapplying to Medical School.

Once you’ve assessed every stage, make a list of how and where you can improve.

2. Use your Medicine gap year wisely

Now that you’ve got a list of what you could improve for your application next year, start planning your gap year.

Get more work experience in the UK

Try to get more medical related work experience for a longer period of time. There are three types of work experience: work shadowing, volunteering and paid work. You can do all of these types of placements across the following organisations and areas:

Obtaining a placement in a healthcare setting, where you get the opportunity to work with and help vulnerable people, is a great way to expose you to all types of medical professions, and also demonstrates your commitment to helping others.

Remember, once you’ve got a work placement, make sure you keep a diary of your experiences! Visit our guide on Work Experience for more information on hospital, GP and care home placements – and how to make the most of them.

Volunteer in a developing country abroad

During your year out, you could spend some time travelling and also gain international medical work experience in places like India, Thailand or Nepal. Perfect locations, plus some amazing travelling experiences! Visit our International Placements page for more guidance on work experience abroad.

Spice up your extra-curriculars

A gap year is also the perfect opportunity to develop a new hobby. Universities look for well-rounded candidates, and a great hobby will help you to keep your brain engaged and active, demonstrating that you can cope with the stresses of medical school and unwind. Why not start learning a new language, or take up an interesting sport like rock-climbing?

Improve your GCSE or AS/A level grades

A year out is also a great time to bring your grades up to scratch. Get in contact with your school to see if they can help you register for exams, and make sure you have the right learning materials to boost your grades.

3. Consider your back-up 5th university choice

If you think you don’t want to take a gap year to reapply, consider your 5th UCAS application. Many of you will have applied to study Biomedical Sciences or another scientific subject at a university of your choice. If you received an offer for this, should you take it?

Only you can decide this. If the answer is yes, then you need to start researching Graduate Entry Medicine opportunities. Graduates can apply for the slightly more competitive accelerated A101 Medicine course (which lasts 4 years), or the less competitive A100 Medicine course (usually 5 or 6 years depending on the uni). You might also find it useful to read our Biomedical Science to Medicine page.

Regardless of which course you think you may apply for, make sure you use your university vacations wisely. Remember to get plenty of work experience under your belt.

Words: Roya, 9th March 2016

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