Written by Dr Anjuli Kaur, FY1 at Basingstoke.
As a 7-year-old child, I was involved in an unfortunate car accident in India, near the Himalayas. I still remember our car skidding along the edge of the road and hitting the trees ahead. My entire family was within that car, including my 2-year-old brother.
What happened next still feels as surreal as it was 20 years ago. A group of passengers on a local bus stopped and tried to take us out of the car, most of my family unconscious except me. I did not know how to speak the local language, but my mother tongue was similar so I tried to communicate as much as I could. My cousins and I would play games where we would try to memorise numbers and thankfully this came to use as I regurgitated my grandmother’s telephone number to let them know we needed help.
That was twenty years ago. I am now a qualified Doctor in England, and the first in my entire extended family to become one.
There have been many blips in this journey. Coming from an Indian family where neither of my parents had attended university, it was difficult to manoeuvre through, making the right educational decisions, which were often left for me to make alone.
As a young child, I was unaware that I needed very high grades to get into Medical School; I just knew I wanted to be a Doctor, like the ones that helped my family and me after the car accident. I did everything I thought I should do with the little knowledge I had.
I truly believe it was a blessing being rejected from attaining a medical school seat when I applied all those years ago. I had unsuccessfully applied to Medical School twice by my third year of undergraduate studies—I had the grades and a strong record of extracurricular activities, but also had an uncompetitive UKCAT score. In England, you are only allowed to apply for four medical schools—so after four rejections, your options are limited for that academic year.
I have always been a firm believer of not “wasting” time and though I had also applied to a few Masters programmes in London with the intention of reapplying to Medical School after a year, there was never going to be a guarantee that I would be able to secure a position on a third attempt.
I began to consider other options of studying Medicine abroad despite being very reluctant and hesitant when I started researching. The thought of leaving England to go to a foreign country that I knew hardly anything about—without my support network—was daunting. I still remember speaking to my parents about the option of going to Antigua and Barbuda to study medicine and contemplating if it was worth applying.
I had heard about American University of Antigua College of Medicine (AUA) through a presentation they did at my university. I remember not attending the first presentation believing that I would surely be able to secure at least one medical school interview; however, by January, I had received four rejections and hesitantly attended the presentation knowing it may be my only option at the time. I bit the bullet and applied.
Attending AUA was the best decision I ever made and the best chance I ever took. It was only in Antigua that I learnt how to learn. It seems silly saying it, but I genuinely think I was never taught good study habits.
AUA gave me an opportunity to achieve a dream I had for years, especially when no one seemed to want me as a student. The supportive staff guided me on how to best learn, providing resources, extra support, and the willingness to listen to my concerns.
Medical School is tough wherever you choose to go. There is no doubt that a lot of independent learning contributed to the foundations I was taught in lectures at AUA. However, the resources students need are all there on campus—you just need to utilise them.
Antigua was a microcosm of hope and opportunity. Being away from my family and friends only made me stronger and gave me the chance to make a new support network with friends across the world. I met my best friend, who is now like a sister to me. I have made friends from countries I never thought I would have the opportunity to meet. We helped each other through the highs and lows, all coming out bruised by setbacks both personal and academic but making it through.
I transferred to Warwick Medical School after completing the Preclinical Sciences in AUA at Antigua campus and passing the USMLE Step 1 exam. My friends continued to pursue their clinical studies in America, and I came back home to England as a stronger and more independent Medical Student.
I have just graduated from Warwick Medical School, and the skills and knowledge I learnt at AUA were the strongest supporting factors in ensuring that I was successful in a completely new medical curriculum in a new school in very little time. I adapted what AUA had taught me to a new environment and succeeded.
AUA may not be your first choice, but you will always be their first choice.
For details on joining AUA College of Medicine and securing your contributory scholarship, email the UK Admissions Director Dee Narga at [email protected] or call +44 (0) 773 851 2117.
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