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*MEGATHREAD* - The Ultimate 'Am I Good Enough For Medicine?' Angst Thread Mk II

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    Following on from this thread

    Please read the FAQ before posting and keep all your angsting in here.
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    I am 23 and I have a 'good' job (salary wise) in professional services (data and reporting), but I've always wanted to be a doctor. The only reason I didn't study medicine was my poor grades at GCSEs and A Levels. I got Cs in Science and Maths. For that reason, I scrapped my dream of being a doctor and instead I chose to study Business at uni (very generic, I know). Although I obtained a first class degree, I feel that I settled for second best.

    I've always been interested in a career in medicine, but I know it's very difficult, and requires much more commitment and intelligence than most, if not, all disciplines.

    I have the work ethic, drive, and passion to make a difference through working in medicine, but I doubt my ability, and I feel that I may lack the aptitude to get into medical school, let alone pass the exams.

    How would I go about changing my career direction at such a late stage? Would you advise for/against this?

    Please be blunt.

    Thanks in advance for your help
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    It's certainly not too late - there are plenty of graduate/mature students in their 30s and 40s. Whether it's the right choice for you is another question.

    Get some work experience, either in GP/hospital or both (I know this will be hard with a full-time job but it's essential if you're thinking of medicine). Find out if it's what you thought it would be, and then start to look at which courses you could apply for.
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    (Original post by spiderbat)
    I am 23 and I have a 'good' job (salary wise) in professional services (data and reporting), but I've always wanted to be a doctor. The only reason I didn't study medicine was my poor grades at GCSEs and A Levels. I got Cs in Science and Maths. For that reason, I scrapped my dream of being a doctor and instead I chose to study Business at uni (very generic, I know). Although I obtained a first class degree, I feel that I settled for second best.

    I've always been interested in a career in medicine, but I know it's very difficult, and requires much more commitment and intelligence than most, if not, all disciplines.

    I have the work ethic, drive, and passion to make a difference through working in medicine, but I doubt my ability, and I feel that I may lack the aptitude to get into medical school, let alone pass the exams.

    How would I go about changing my career direction at such a late stage? Would you advise for/against this?

    Please be blunt.

    Thanks in advance for your help
    Get the work experience, sit the entrance exams and apply - that's the first thing you can do

    As a graduate, you can apply to either the normal 5 year route, or the shortened 4 year courses which some unis offer. Not all the Graduate Entry courses are open to all graduates - comes down to what subject your degree is in. Some 5 year courses have A-level entry requirements, even as a graduate.

    The following will take any degree subject:

    Cambridge
    King's
    Southampton
    St. George's, London
    Newcastle
    Nottingham
    Swansea
    Keele (but they only take on 10 grads and they are really after those with Science based degrees).

    Cambridge and Southampton have A-level subject requirements though so they're worth researching further. Bar Cambridge (unless you don't meet the pre-med requirements) they all ask you to sit either the UKCAT or GAMSAT.

    Hope this helps a bit
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    How can you be sure its the career for you? You need to go out there and gets some hands on experience - hospitals, GP clinic, care homes. Then you can have a "taste" of it and see if its for you. And also importantly, medical schools expect you to have this when you apply. You can't just apply and say "I wanna be a doctor", you've got to show them what you understand a career in medicine to be and why you want it.

    Also - if you have struggled with sciences academically in the past, what is it that draws you? In a traditional course (although many universities now spread it out over five years) the first two years are dedicated purely to science, learning about how the body works, the mechanisms of drugs etc. If you don't enjoy science to some extent, those first two years will be torture for you!

    You need to sit down and honestly assess your reasons for deciding on medicine. If you do a second degree it will be a huge financial burden and time consuming - you need to be sure you know why you want it.
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    Hi all,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. The mixed messages have certainly helped me to look at my decision more objectively.

    Krisblade, you make a valid point about how struggling with sciences is a potential indicator that I will struggle with medicine -and I absolutely agree. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't enjoy science. The two factors aren’t mutually conclusive. Hence, my reluctance is simply due whether I lack the aptitude.

    You asked me why I am interested in medicine. As cliché as it may sound, I want to make a difference. I mentioned that it was a dream from an early age – maybe for the wrong reasons. A recent development in my life has refuelled my passion. Whilst (and before) undertaking a degree, I was also caring for my late sister, who suffered from various illnesses. Towards the end, I feel that she was lost in the system. In my opinion, through first-hand experience, I have been exposed one (unfortunately, the unpleasant) side of medicine.

    It's a personal drive, which, at the moment, I simply cannot explain in depth.

    What I can confirm is my commitment to studies and willingness to accept the financial burden.

    If, as a medical student, you feel that my reasons are flawed, or I lack the ability based on any other factors, please feel free to express your thoughts. Again, be blunt.

    Your help is much appreciated.
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    As others have said it's certainly not too late. I don't think that your drive from personal experience is a flawed motivation - many people site similar experiences as their main inspiration for pursuing a career in medicine. What you absolutely do need to do before you make the decision is to get some experience. All unis will look for it when considering your application anyway, but mainly you need to do it to be sure you know what you're getting yourself in to. Many NHS hospitals have voluntary schemes and it may be worth writing to your local GPs as well.
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    (Original post by spiderbat)
    Krisblade, you make a valid point about how struggling with sciences is a potential indicator that I will struggle with medicine -and I absolutely agree. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't enjoy science. The two factors aren’t mutually conclusive. Hence, my reluctance is simply due whether I lack the aptitude.
    .
    Whilst they are not mutually exclusive, they certainly do go together. Generally if you enjoy something you do better at it - as you view it less as work and effort

    I think you need to assess, I don't know how to word it exactly, but "real" view on medicine. It's all great wanting to help people, but that alone might not be enough to drive you. I personally found before I applied that I spent a vast amount of my time reading about medicine anyway - before I'd even considered a career in it. I realised it really interested me and all the things that had been stopping me (you need to be really outgoing, you have to amazingly smart and its really elitist etc) weren't really valid reasons not to do it.

    I want to "help people" in that really clince way as well, but as day to day motivation... you barely see patients at first, you don't directly help anyone for a long time, so it'a hard for that to be your motivation you know? when its all textbooks and lectures, there got to be something else abvout it keep you going. For me, it's the science. I love it, when most people bail on biochem lectures, I'm genuinely interested. And thats what motivates me day to day.

    And I think its important to have something like that, it might just be my view. If your only reason is helping people - will that be enough when you have to make it through 4/5 hard years of work first?

    You may have more reasons, but you need to go out there and find them. You need to get work experience to see if you can see yourself working in that enviroment, apply yourself in a scientific way and see if you can handle the level expected. Then if you find you do have the ability and genuine interest, you will be able to motivate yourself through the long application process and degree. it is a huge step - to give up your career, to spend all that time and money. You have to be sure its right for you.

    The only thing you can really do now is get that experience. Start reading up on things online or whatever, even if its just BBC Health or getting New Scientist or something - they seem to be things applicants normally rant and rave about doing :p:
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    to get a 1st class degree you must have some attribute. 1st dont get given out for free, so i dont think you will need to worry too much about that.

    i honestly think that if you get some work experience behind you, then you would have a good chance, esp with GEP. you have a good degree grade and what appear to be a very realistic attitude about challenge ahead.

    i am 23 now and i am going back to uni in September to do a science degree. i loved science at school but i only came away with a C at GCSE. i would not have had the right attitude at age 18 to do a science degree but now i am older i feel like my head is in the right place and i am responsible and organised. even though i was not good at science at school i do feel positive that i can graduate with a 1st because of the growing i have done. i think if medicine is what you really want and you have a genuine interest for medical science then you will be fine.

    take a look at this it will help you decide your route.

    i wish you every luck with your application.
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    Follow your dreams!
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    (Original post by spiderbat)
    Hi all,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond. The mixed messages have certainly helped me to look at my decision more objectively.

    Krisblade, you make a valid point about how struggling with sciences is a potential indicator that I will struggle with medicine -and I absolutely agree. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that I didn't enjoy science. The two factors aren’t mutually conclusive. Hence, my reluctance is simply due whether I lack the aptitude.

    You asked me why I am interested in medicine. As cliché as it may sound, I want to make a difference. I mentioned that it was a dream from an early age – maybe for the wrong reasons. A recent development in my life has refuelled my passion. Whilst (and before) undertaking a degree, I was also caring for my late sister, who suffered from various illnesses. Towards the end, I feel that she was lost in the system. In my opinion, through first-hand experience, I have been exposed one (unfortunately, the unpleasant) side of medicine.
    It's a personal drive, which, at the moment, I simply cannot explain in depth.

    What I can confirm is my commitment to studies and willingness to accept the financial burden.

    If, as a medical student, you feel that my reasons are flawed, or I lack the ability based on any other factors, please feel free to express your thoughts. Again, be blunt.

    Your help is much appreciated.

    Nuff Said!

    Get expereience, get the qulifications needed and then apply.

    Follow your dream and its never too late!
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    It's definitely not too late....live the dream
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    (Original post by spiderbat)
    I am 23 and I have a 'good' job (salary wise) in professional services (data and reporting), but I've always wanted to be a doctor. The only reason I didn't study medicine was my poor grades at GCSEs and A Levels. I got Cs in Science and Maths. For that reason, I scrapped my dream of being a doctor and instead I chose to study Business at uni (very generic, I know). Although I obtained a first class degree, I feel that I settled for second best.

    I've always been interested in a career in medicine, but I know it's very difficult, and requires much more commitment and intelligence than most, if not, all disciplines.

    I have the work ethic, drive, and passion to make a difference through working in medicine, but I doubt my ability, and I feel that I may lack the aptitude to get into medical school, let alone pass the exams.

    How would I go about changing my career direction at such a late stage? Would you advise for/against this?

    Please be blunt.

    Thanks in advance for your help
    Apologies for the Wall of text.

    I'm in a similar position to you. I will be 23 when I graduate from Nottingham in Management Studies and plan to apply for their GEM course starting 2012.

    This link shows every GEM course in the UK and also has other useful things in there: http://www.medschoolsonline.co.uk/index.php?pageid=11

    Having a 1st already definitely puts you in a great position because you can apply to 5 of the 6 Unis that don't ask for: GCSE or A level grades, and dont care what subject your first degree was in as long as you got a 2:1 or higher (or just 2:2 in the case of Notts and St Georges). The Unis I'm referring to from the link are: KCL, Swansea, Keele, Newcastle (2:1+ unis).

    For Nottingham, Swansea, St Georges and Keele you will need to sit the GAMSAT test which is basically an aptitude test that tests you on your: verbal reasoning, essay writing skills, and science knowledge. Coming from a business subject you'll probably find the essay writing part easy, and verbal reasoning can be practiced just by reading good newspapers and books regularly. Science on the other hand needs to be learnt, I'd recommend teaching yourself A level: physics, chemisty and Biology + get the Organic Chemistry for Dummies book. This will give you all the knowledge you'll need to score heavily. Also buy the Acer GAMSAT practice questions to familarise yourself with what the test is like.

    For the other 2 Unis you need to take the UKCAT which from what I'm told is a walk in the park compared to the GAMSAT as it doesn't require any revision, just practice answering their style of questions. However getting places into these Unis is more competitive because both Unis that offer the course that you meet the reqs for take less than 25 people each year.

    I would advise focusing on the GAMSAT because even though the exams tougher you're increasing your chances of getting a place. For example; Notts offer 91 places, St Georges 98, Swansea 70.

    I read an inspiring story from an online article last year; that a single mother of 1 studied for the GAMSAT for around an avg of 5 hours a day for 3 months, and scored over 80 percentile in the exam (with no prior Science knowledge before her revision since GCSE's) and now is on her 2nd or 3rd year in Medicine.

    The GAMSAT registration for their 17th September 2010 sitting opens sometime in June which is definitely worth a punt. From June-Sept 17th if you put in something like 4hrs a day revision or abouts will definitely have a great chance of getting a good grade. Also another great thing about the GAMSAT is the marks can be used for upto 2 years, so if you don't make it through the interviews the first time you won't need to sit the GAMSAT again, unless you don't make through the interviews the 2nd time as well.

    This here is a great site where lots of GAMSAT students exchange tips etc: http://pagingdr.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=gamsat

    Studying aside make some time for gaining some work experience as well, 8-16 hours a week for a period of at least 3 months at a Care home will be great experience. I have been told from an inside source that they value care work over gp shadowing or hosptial work due to its direct caring nature. So prioritise getting Care home work over the others.

    Thats pretty much all I can think of atm, I've been planning my Medicine pathway for over a year now so I have a lot of info floating around my head from all the research I've done. Feel free to pm me or just quote me on here and I'll get back to you next time I'm on.

    Take care,
    James
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    Great post James, and here's a similar link to the GAMSAT discussion thread on the UK equivalent medic forums http://www.newmediamedicine.com/forum/gamsat/

    Best of luck, go for it!
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    There is a chap in my year who did social anthropology, so business may well be acceptable.
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    (Original post by English King)
    Notts offer 91 places, St Georges 98, Swansea 70.
    SGUL are offering over 100, if not close to 120 places these days
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    (Original post by krisblade)
    Whilst they are not mutually exclusive, they certainly do go together. Generally if you enjoy something you do better at it - as you view it less as work and effort

    I think you need to assess, I don't know how to word it exactly, but "real" view on medicine. It's all great wanting to help people, but that alone might not be enough to drive you. I personally found before I applied that I spent a vast amount of my time reading about medicine anyway - before I'd even considered a career in it. I realised it really interested me and all the things that had been stopping me (you need to be really outgoing, you have to amazingly smart and its really elitist etc) weren't really valid reasons not to do it.

    I want to "help people" in that really clince way as well, but as day to day motivation... you barely see patients at first, you don't directly help anyone for a long time, so it'a hard for that to be your motivation you know? when its all textbooks and lectures, there got to be something else abvout it keep you going. For me, it's the science. I love it, when most people bail on biochem lectures, I'm genuinely interested. And thats what motivates me day to day.

    And I think its important to have something like that, it might just be my view. If your only reason is helping people - will that be enough when you have to make it through 4/5 hard years of work first?

    You may have more reasons, but you need to go out there and find them. You need to get work experience to see if you can see yourself working in that enviroment, apply yourself in a scientific way and see if you can handle the level expected. Then if you find you do have the ability and genuine interest, you will be able to motivate yourself through the long application process and degree. it is a huge step - to give up your career, to spend all that time and money. You have to be sure its right for you.

    The only thing you can really do now is get that experience. Start reading up on things online or whatever, even if its just BBC Health or getting New Scientist or something - they seem to be things applicants normally rant and rave about doing :p:
    That's an interesting view and probably not all that true.
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    I would question wether you have to be smart, let alone amazingly smart. It does help though if you aren't particularly hard working.
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    (Original post by AnonymousPenguin)
    That's an interesting view and probably not all that true.
    Sorry, I think you've misunderstood me. What I meant is this is what I had previously percieved of medicine when I was 14/15, and those had been the reasons why I felt it wouldn't be a career for me. However once I did some more research I found these things not to be true, so the "reasons" that had been against me pursing this career in fact weren't all that valid, so why not go for it?
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    (Original post by krisblade)
    Sorry, I think you've misunderstood me. What I meant is this is what I had previously percieved of medicine when I was 14/15, and those had been the reasons why I felt it wouldn't be a career for me. However once I did some more research I found these things not to be true, so the "reasons" that had been against me pursing this career in fact weren't all that valid, so why not go for it?
    Sorry, my bad. Skimmed it too fast.
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