First of all, before we go 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.
Medicine is getting more and more competitive each year, so a lot of applicants decide to take a gap year and reapply after being unsuccessful with their application the first time around.
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 improve 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’ll have done it before and know what to expect.
On the other hand, you need to remember that getting into Medical 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 in mind.
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 Medical Schools won’t consider applicants with A-Level resits.
Another option is that you could go to university and study a different degree (e.g. you might have selected a course like Biomedical Science as your fifth UCAS choice or you might be able to get into a course through Clearing) with an aim to apply for Graduate Entry Medicine later.
To apply for Graduate Entry Medicine, you’ll need to do very well in your degree and demonstrate a passion for pursuing Medicine. The application process is similar to Undergraduate Medicine – you’ll need to sit an admissions test (UCAT, BMAT or GAMSAT depending on the university), submit a GEM Personal Statement, and you may 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 and reapplying for Undergraduate Medicine) is that you’ll get to start your university experience this year, instead of spending another year at home and going through the whole Medicine application process again. Cons are that getting into Graduate Entry Medicine is also very competitive – and if you do get in, this means that you will be at university for your initial degree and then several more years for GEM after that.
A small number of Medical 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 very competitive and there is often specific eligibility criteria that you’ll need to meet.
With entry to UK Medical Schools becoming increasingly competitive, a rising number of students are deciding to study Medicine abroad and turning to universities overseas which teach Medicine 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 Medical 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 (including Podiatrist, Radiographer and Paramedic) which involve working with patients and making a difference to people’s lives.
If you didn’t get into Medical 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 rewarding to have a different role within the world of healthcare.
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