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    Hi all,

    Apologies before I begin as I fear this might be a long and rambling stream of consciousness post.

    As the title suggests, I'm considering medicine as a mature student but have found myself getting more and more confused about the best direction to take. Let me start with a brief history of my educational journey so far and relationship with medicine.

    When I was about 14, I became very attracted to the idea of being a doctor. I was motivated by a desire to help other people, to use academic knowledge to be able to do this and, let's be honest, my then perception that it was a glamorous and prestigious profession. I chose science A-levels and all was going well until I had a week's work experience at my local hospital. Which I loved. I shadowed a young and enthusiastic junior doctor who was keen for me to experience as much as I could. I spent a wonderful evening on the night shift with her, on call, seeing a variety of patients. I loved how a doctor truly can help people. How they do have a level of expertise that can sometimes help people feel better, even if just temporarily. I would skip home from those days of giving bed baths and shadowing doctors full of increasing certainty about my career choice. However, in the dying days of this work experience, she organised a trip to the mortuary to see a post-mortem. As the day came, I put a brave face on it. The nurses stories of the incision between the ears at the back of the head and pulling the skin over the head and forehead did little to calm my nerves. I'd never even seen a dead body before. The staff carrying out the post-portem were lovely and introduced me to a few cadavers to try and make me feel more comfortable. However -when it came to it, I chickened out. The sudden realisation that this world was one far from the usual and far from my own comfort zone and that when I was asked to face that squarely I chickened out shook me deeply. My parents were embarrassed for me. I tried to cover it up with generalisations but I felt like a failure and it was in that week that I decided medicine wasn't for me. Fine. I went to university and studied biology, and enjoyed coasting through my A-levels with the pressure off (and with subsequently less good results).

    Fast forward fifteen or so years. Medicine - what might have been - still lurks at the back of my mind. After my degree (a half suitable fit. It was easy but I went to few lectures and came out with a 2:2 after my question spotting went wrong in the final exams - my marks break down is a mixture of 90%s and 30%s depending on where I got lucky with my revision) I went on to work in a science lab which turned into a part-time PhD in biochemistry. Getting through my 20s at a pace and totting up major biology-related qualifications, debt and confusion all as a result of this decision to do medicine aged 14 which never quite died but never quite happened. Considered a post-doc but didn't feel I had the enthusiasm to get me beyond the level of a post-doc. Worked as a manager in the NHS writing research papers and working on clinical audit. Hated the office life. Went on to do a PGCE in primary teaching. Enjoyed the PGCE but have found the teaching aspect a little dull. Incredible workloads and stress but not particularly intellectually stimulating compared to say, the PhD/science phases of my life. And still, at the back of my mind, is medicine. In fact, it's dogged me with differing levels of intensity ever since I decided not to do it. For example, about 6 or so years ago, I even got as far as applying to medical school. With a few months of volunteering under my belt as a chaplaincy volunteer in a hospital and a half-finished PhD, I didn't get very far. That was also a bit of a knock to the confidence.

    If anyone is still reading this - thank you! Here I get to the crux of it. I'm now in my earlyish thirties. I'm very aware that the door to medicine is close to closing. That the next year or two is going to be my final realistic chance of getting a place so if it's the right thing for me to do I need to know that now. I'm also aware that ANOTHER degree will present a serious financial challenge and not working again until into late my 30s, with no house and little savings behind me, will mean I'll be seriously behind my peers in the financial stakes (I am already). I'm also not much further on than that kid at 16. Is this really the career for me? My mother and other family members have recently had some medical problems and I feel so deeply within me in those moments to be a doctor, being able to help others in need, that it's almost overwhelming. But am I just too squeamish to face the more gruesome aspects (I went to one of those Bodyworks exhibitions and that posed no problem). Do I have the energy left for another four year stint at university? Will I end up on the course after convincing the admissions panel and realise it's not for me after all? Do I stand a chance of even getting a place? What would YOU do in my situation??

    Phew. That feels better. Apologies about the length of the post but I did warn you You're the first people I've ever told this to in full. Any advice, greatly appreciated.

    Ginger.
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    Hi Ginger,

    That's a long post for your first one, hope you feel like you've got something off your chest!

    Simply put, it's never too late. You've got some good qualifications and experience behind you, which will stand you in good stead for medical school application. It's definitely not going to be easy, you will have to be fairly careful about where you apply - some universities don't accept a 2:2.

    I'm no expert on entry into medical school, but maybe it would be an idea to consider a foundation course at a medical school? An example of this would be the one at Durham University (http://www.dur.ac.uk/foundation.centre/medicine/), this is an extra year on top of a medical degree, but it gives you a good shot at entry. They seem to be specific to a particular university, unlike an Access course, but it might be something to look at/think about.

    Without sounding corny, if you've got the drive to apply to medical school, go for it. You'd only be thinking 'What if?' in a few years if you didn't.

    Good luck.
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    Thank you Swist for the advice.

    Hadn't considered an access course before. I always thought they were for people without science backgrounds and with my fairly strong science past they weren't relevant for me. Definitely worth looking into however.


    (Original post by Swist)
    Hi Ginger,

    That's a long post for your first one, hope you feel like you've got something off your chest!

    Simply put, it's never too late. You've got some good qualifications and experience behind you, which will stand you in good stead for medical school application. It's definitely not going to be easy, you will have to be fairly careful about where you apply - some universities don't accept a 2:2.

    I'm no expert on entry into medical school, but maybe it would be an idea to consider a foundation course at a medical school? An example of this would be the one at Durham University (http://www.dur.ac.uk/foundation.centre/medicine/), this is an extra year on top of a medical degree, but it gives you a good shot at entry. They seem to be specific to a particular university, unlike an Access course, but it might be something to look at/think about.

    Without sounding corny, if you've got the drive to apply to medical school, go for it. You'd only be thinking 'What if?' in a few years if you didn't.

    Good luck.
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    If you really want this, then go for it! Do not let age stop you. I was 44 when I started and now nearing the end of 2nd year. Also, met a 5th year recently and they had someone in the year who started at aged 56!

    With your PhD, I would imagine most would not look at your 2:2 as PhD is the higher qualification but I may be wrong.

    Some research on your part is required as only you know where you would consider going in terms of location. So with that in mind, check out the medicine wiki on here:

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/wiki/Medicine

    Once, you have narrowed the uni's you would consider, I would strongly advise you to email each admissions department, listing all you qualifications and ask specifically if they would accept an application from you as well as double checking each of their admissions requirements online. (Sometimes admissions make mistakes - personal experience with St. Andrews). Once have this, you'll need to do the appropriate exams - UKCAT, BMAT, GAMSAT.

    Also, I'm assuming you would go for GEP rather than 5 year due to the cost? I am in Scotland so cheapest option for me was the 5 year coupled with the fact that I thought the intensity of GEP would be too much having a toddler to look after as well.

    hth and pm me if you want any more advice.
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    Thank you Sweet Chilli. Great advice about emailing the admission tutors and not assuming the requirements are correct. It also opens a dialogue with them and might yield some other useful bits of information like work experience recommendations.
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    (Original post by Ginger1)
    Thank you Sweet Chilli. Great advice about emailing the admission tutors and not assuming the requirements are correct. It also opens a dialogue with them and might yield some other useful bits of information like work experience recommendations.
    Hi Ginger,

    GAMSAT may well be your best option as you already have a science background and it would get around the 2.2 which some UKCAT unis would not consider.

    I am also a prospective older student, and it seems like there are growing numbers of them! Go for it!
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    (Original post by Ginger1)
    Thank you Sweet Chilli. Great advice about emailing the admission tutors and not assuming the requirements are correct. It also opens a dialogue with them and might yield some other useful bits of information like work experience recommendations.
    Hia!
    I am in exactly the same boat - early 30's... Can't shake my desire to be a doctor, so I am applying in October for 2014 entry. If you can't shake the feeling then you've just got to go for it! You can't spend the rest of your life wondering what if...
    Definitely email the unis tho, I know some won't accept a 2:2 even with a postgrad qualification - for example Newcastle... They advised me that even if I did the masters I was debating about, it wouldn't change the 2:1 requirement in anyway, I quote from the email:
    "Newcastle University require a 2.1 or first class honours degree in order for a graduate to be eligible to apply to the MBBS programme. We would not look at or take into consideration any previous qualifications gained. Having a masters or a PHD would not change this requirement."
    Make sure you're doing plenty of work experience and volunteering too - some of mine has taken aaages to sort out so get onto it ASAP.
    I have emailed and spoken to quite a few unis, so if you need any advice feel free PM me
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    Check out St Georges and Nottingham they both accept 2:2 degrees. Go for it!!!

    Be careful with Access as most won't take you because of the science degree and PhD.

    I know of people in their 40s getting into medical school this year. It is possible if you put the hard work in that's required to make a great application.

    Best of luck


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