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Graduate Entry Medicine - need advice

(6 Posts)
GraduateMedicine Tue 21-Apr-20 22:19:44

I have been considering doing graduate entry medicine for several years now but have always put it off. However recently I have started to think about it again but I am not sure if I stand a chance. I have described my situation below and would really appreciate your honest opinions and advice. Thank you.

I graduated with a MSc a few months ago and was planning on doing a PhD in cardiovascular research but have struggled in getting a funded PhD project. Furthermore, as time has gone on, I have started to doubt whether a career in research is the right path for me.

I am 24 and every year since I was probably 16 I get this urge to pursue and apply for medicine but I have always suppressed it by telling myself that I am not clever enough for it. I considered applying to do a Physicians Associate course after undergrad but I felt like it was too new and unknown and so I opted to do my MSc instead with thoughts of a career in research.

Since graduating for my master's and during the duration of my master's I have been trying to figure out what to do. I kind of accepted academia as my destination as it feels like the natural progression for me as I loved studying at university. However if I am honest with myself I am not very passionate about lab work which meant I never had much momentum to pursue it. For example I never attempted to do a summer research placements in a lab.

So recently I have finally admitted to myself that I am not sure whether a PhD is the right path for me, at least at this time in my life and I feel like the ground has fallen beneath me as it has what I spent the last four years at university working towards. I have been trying to figure out what to do and keep getting drawn towards a career in healthcare - nursing, dentistry, medicine. Medicine appeals to me the most as I feel like it is quite diverse and you can find your place within medicine. I feel like when I think about applying for graduate entry medicine I get this rush of adrenaline and this motivation and momentum that I have never had about a potential career before.

I have not had any healthcare experience and I know that will be the first step if I am to pursue this. I am not in any rush to apply for medicine ASAP or anything even though I know I am 24 now as I know it is about the long game. I would dedicate time to getting proper experience in healthcare first before applying and am willing to take my time in getting that experience.

However, I feel like I am completely naive about it all and I feel silly to even say this all outloud to anyone so I wanted to ask for your honest opinions regarding my chances, I won't be offended if you tell me I have no chance. If I do stand a chance, I would appreciate advice on what you would do if you were me regarding getting experience. Would taking one year out to get healthcare experience be enough? Obviously with the coronavirus it seems like it would not be possible to get experience right now so is there anything I should be doing in the meanwhile? I am also nervous of this process as I had two coursemates in my master's apply for GEM and both got rejected with no interviews.

In terms of academia my A-levels are A*ABB in History, Biology, Chemistry and Physics (A*ABB), a first class degree in Biological Sciences and a distinction in my MSc in Biological Sciences.

Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
Ellmau Wed 22-Apr-20 00:02:29

GEM is very competitive.

You do need lots of experience. It's a shame you didn't volunteer for the NHS responder scheme in March. Are any care homes recruiting in your area?

Hunnybears Wed 22-Apr-20 00:15:32

Well OP, judging by both your degree and A-levels choice for subjects and all of your outstanding grades, I’m certain you fit the bill from an academic stance! I’m sure your intelligent enough.

I think I’d apply as soon as possible, because it might take a few years with how competitive it will be. Don’t let it deter you though, that’s quite the norm I believe.

I would get in touch with the uni, explain your situation and ask them what experience would they suggest you gain. I would also apply for several and be prepared to move if you need to. (Although I’m nit sure you can apply to different ones, but if so then it’s worth doing)

I’m no where near clever enough to be a doctor, but I did have 3 separate interviews (3 different unis) to train as a nurse and I got offered a place at each uni.

Definitely go for it though!! Good luck

ohmysense Wed 22-Apr-20 01:10:21

Your academics are more than enough to get you an interview. You do need experience but having a year may even be an overkill (that depends on where exactly you'd apply though). Remember that they value a variety of experiences, not only hands-on care, although obviously you need to have a bit of that too. They just need you to (a) demonstrate that you have the skills, (b) show that you understand what you're getting yourself into. Right now I'd recommend you look into phone volunteering to support people in difficult situations e.g. Samaritans; although I have no idea if they are recruiting at the moment. Once things go back to normal a little bit you can contact your local hospitals and/or GP practices to see if they'd let you volunteer or shadow. Most hospitals have a volunteering department, some are better than others though to advertise online, so you may need to phone up etc. Some also offer shadowing experience to actually see how a Dr's job looks like from the inside. Some GP practices would let you shadow for a week or at least come chat to staff about their day-to-day jobs etc. Although usually you can't go to the practice where you're registered or where you know a lot of patients, for confidentiality reasons. Can also try care homes & hospices. Also look at charities - St John Ambulance, charities working with disabled or vulnerable people, charities providing MH support, food banks, even charity shops etc. All fab ways to gain relevant exposure to working with people. Another (possibly best) way to go about it is to apply for an HCA job in a hospital or a care home, if you have some free time. If you apply for a bank position, you'd be able to choose your shifts which might be handy. This is a lengthy process though which also involves some training, so do apply early.
Another thing that'd I'd recommend right now - research different universities and decide where you want to apply. You get 4 spots on the UCAS application. There aren't that many universities offering GEM in the UK (maybe about 20?) so it's not crazy hard to research them, but they tend to have very specific requirements that also vary widely between them. E.g. some unis need you to have specific grades for your degree / A-levels / even GCSEs sometimes, a specific degree field, a certain number of volunteering hours or types of experience etc. Then there are admissions tests - UKAT, GAMSAT, BMAT. You probably don't want to take all three. So it's just much easier if you decide on the schools right now, write down what is needed / what you're lacking and then work towards closing these gaps.
Also if you find out you actually have the qualifications to apply asap - I'd recommend it, even if your application could still benefit from more experience. The application is usually not that difficult to submit (usually just UCAS, with 1 reference that can be from anyone), and not too expensive but then if you get called to an interview it's such an invaluable practice even if you don't end up getting an offer (and you might - you never know!). Also, people tend to do better on admission tests second time around as well. So just consider it a trial run before a proper application season.
Good luck! It's hard work but it's certainly doable. Also there's tons of advice online so do your research.

coffeemonster28 Thu 23-Apr-20 08:58:16

just a quick one on the Samaritans front - they aren't recruiting but even when they are, it takes a very long time for the entire process (sometimes over a year) until you can start so wouldn't recommend that for getting experience in the short term.

alreadytaken Thu 23-Apr-20 21:33:50

I dont know much about graduate medicine except that it is so competitive quite a few people apply for the 5 year course as well. However that would be really expensive.

You need to know what you would be getting into. The course is not massively academically demanding but there is a great deal to learn. You need stamina and determination to survive the course and you need to be able to cope with bodily fluids and some pretty unpleasant sights. Long term volunteering where you get your hands dirty or a health care assistant job indicate that you are likely to be able to cope. Bank jobs can sometimes be for weeks but the application process takes a long time if you are serious get on with it.

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