First of all, before we delve into the options – for any of these to be feasible, it’s important that you power through your A-Levels and get stuck into revision. You’re probably feeling disheartened about not getting into Medicine, but it’s vital that you don’t give up on your grades.
Before you decide if this is the right option for you, think carefully about the pros and cons. On the one hand, taking a gap year will give you the opportunity to work on your application. You could use the time to do more work experience and volunteering, boost your Personal Statement, and do more prep for the UCAT and/or BMAT. If you had any interviews this year, you might also feel more prepared next time, because you’ve done it before and know what to expect.
On the other hand, you need to remember that getting into Med School is incredibly competitive – so even if you put in lots of extra effort, there is no guarantee that you will get in next year either. If you do decide to take a gap year and reapply, it’s still important to have a backup plan.
Also, if you’re thinking about resitting any A-Levels during a gap year to see if you can improve your grades, bear in mind that some Med Schools won’t consider applicants with A-Level resits.
Another option is that you could go to university and study a different degree that isn’t Medicine (e.g. you might have selected a course like Biomedical Science as your fifth UCAS choice), with a mind to applying for Graduate Entry Medicine later.
To apply for Graduate Entry Medicine, you’ll need to do very well in your degree (at least 2:1) and demonstrate a passion for pursuing Medicine. The application process is similar to Undergraduate Medicine – you’ll need to sit an admissions test (the GAMSAT, UCAT or BMAT depending on the university), submit a Personal Statement, and you might be invited to interview. Some universities want Graduate Entry applicants to have a sciences degree, but some don’t mind what subject your degree is in.
One pro of this option that might appeal to you (as opposed to taking a gap year) is that you’ll get to start your university experience this year, instead of spending another year at home and going through the whole application process again. Cons are that getting into Graduate Entry Medicine is also very competitive – and if you do get in, this means you will be at university for your degree and then several more years after that.
A small number of Med Schools also offer students the chance to transfer to Medicine from another degree such as Biomedical Science. Make sure you research this opportunity thoroughly, because it’s quite rare and there is often very specific eligibility criteria.
With entry to UK Med Schools becoming increasingly competitive, a rising number of students are deciding to study Medicine abroad and turning to universities overseas which teach in English.
This might feel like a scary option – but think of it as an adventure! You’ll get to live in another country where you’ll experience a different culture and way of life. In your clinical placements at Med School you’ll get to experience a different healthcare system. Depending on which country you’re in, you could also use it as an opportunity to learn a new language, which could end up boosting your employment prospects in the future.
Remember that being a Doctor isn’t the be-all and end-all of working in healthcare. There are a wide range of Allied Health careers where you’ll be able to provide care for people and make a difference.
If you didn’t get into Med School, it’s worth thinking about whether becoming a Doctor is truly the right path for you – or whether you would find it just as fulfilling to be, for example, a paramedic, a physiotherapist or a radiographer.
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