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    Hello, I am 20 years old and really struggling with deciding my future.

    I left school early during secondary school due to illness with only GCSE Core Science B, GCSE Mathematics C, GCSE English Language C and GCSE Additional Science C. I then went to work in a residential home and completed my QCF Health and Social Care Level 2.

    It is my dream to study medicine but due to my qualifications I gave up on the idea and looked at other things I could do. So I applied to do an evening course for access to health care professions with the idea that I would do a nursing degree afterwards. However, I began working in a hospital as a HCA and work alongside many health care professionals, and none of their jobs appeal to me other than medicine.
    I feel that if I studied something else just because I thought I couldn’t do medicine I will always regret that I didn’t try, so I have been looking into all of my options.

    I have looked at access to medicine courses, however they are all too far away and I couldn’t afford to move or travel there whilst studying full time.
    I know that I will have to complete my A levels, the issue is that I cannot do an a level course here while I am working full time and would have to quit my job and couldn’t afford to pay rent. I had been looking into taking the exams as a private candidate and doing self-study, however this turned out to be too complicated and very expensive.

    My only option seems to be that I quit my job and move back in with my parents for 2 years and do my a levels.
    So I have applied to a college near my parents to do biology, chemistry, psychology and Italian (as I believe most unis like you to take an 4th AS level?)


    My question is, if I go through all of this to get my a levels, do I even stand a chance at getting in with my GCSE grades? Or will I have to retake them as well?

    This is really causing me a lot of stress as I do not want to keep wasting years of my life that I could be studying and gaining the qualifications I need

    Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you.
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    Hello there

    I'd advise you to take an access course as it builds you from Level 2 -GCSE- to Level 3 -A level-, so universities will consider you as having both, however some will still require you to have A-C for English and math.
    If you do A levels it is better for you to retake math and English and try to get A or B because universities do have a look at those.
    Whatever you do it will be worth it, even the travel distance.... my sister did an Access course and has now been given a place at UoB, she used to travel there early morning for 2 hrs *every day*!!
    Anyways, good luck
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    I think Medicine is extremely concentrated and very difficult to get in. And even after all your hard work to get in, you face 5-10 years of Uni+training and then you enter a really stressful job that is literally going to break you. Look into jobs that require a less competitve degree- Pharmacology, Dental hygiene, nurse etc.
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    You should never give up on your dreams, the moment you give up will be the moment you let go of that dream!!!
    However, majority of the unis want atleast a B in english language and maths (maybe science too) so I recommend you retake english nd maths considering you got a C in them and maybe retake additional science too?? As long as you meet the requirements they will consider your application

    When applying its not just about GCSEs and A-level grades - your PS, UKCAT/BMAT play a major role in te selection procedure too
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    Have you looked at the GCSE requirements for each medical school and e-mailed them to check? That's your starting point, because you need to meet that requirement as well as the A-level requirement.

    As for giving up aged 20 - no way. You are young. I'm nearly 30, have 2 prior degrees and I'm about to start. I don't even have science A-levels (I took the graduate route). If this is what you want then do everything you can to achieve it because, believe me, if this is your passion it will not go away no matter how many years go by or whether you take another degree (or in my case 2!). I hope you get in on the undergraduate course but if worst case scenario you don't, then don't despair - you can re-apply or you can take the grad route. I personally wanted a career ''in the mean time'' as fall back in case I could never get into medicine so I trained as a nurse for my second degree and worked for a while (and really enjoyed it) and then once I was financially secure and had my nursing career I gave medicine another shot. That time around it wasn't a make-or-break situation and I knew that if I failed I would still have my career. So, I'm not saying graduate entry is the best way to go (it's really competitive etc) but it's always an option for if you feel as though you're running out of time to get a career on track and want to keep medicine an option.

    But check with the med schools about your GCSEs, focus on getting the A-levels and as much recent relevant experience - that's all you need to worry about for the time being.

    Very best of luck.
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    (Original post by sofiare)
    It is my dream to study medicine but due to my qualifications I gave up on the idea and looked at other things I could do. So I applied to do an evening course for access to health care professions with the idea that I would do a nursing degree afterwards. However, I began working in a hospital as a HCA and work alongside many health care professionals, and none of their jobs appeal to me other than medicine.
    I feel that if I studied something else just because I thought I couldn’t do medicine I will always regret that I didn’t try, so I have been looking into all of my options.

    Hi,

    If Medicine is what you truly want to study, then do not give up by any means! Your work experience may compensate your GCSE grades. Some universities, like Plymouth, are more lenient with entry requirements than others - have a look at this. Also, it might be a good idea to inform your college and university that you suffered an illness whilst taking your GCSEs. If you work hard and do really well in your A Levels, then you still stand a good chance of being accepted into Medicine course.

    I wish you the best of luck if you go ahead and pursue a career in Medicine.
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    Don't give up!! You are NOT too old!
    My dream job is to become a Dr, but that is never going to happen for me unfortunately.
    I did ok at GCSE, (I'm 40) failed my A'levels due to circumstances, but got into uni and came out with a degree in Biomedicine. Unfortunalry not good enough to get into medicine, so I looked around and came across Podiatry! I applied and got in, and I LOVED it!
    Unfortunately it was short lived as I found out I was pregnant (age 27), life changed with kids etc..
    But I have not given up on my dream! I am starting again in Podiatry in September, with the view to pursue surgery. At my interview we discussed my passion for medicine and I was told what I already knew, Podiatry is a fantastic substitute!

    NEVER give up on a dream/passion. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Age is no barrier.
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    (Original post by Cazcardiff)
    NEVER give up on a dream/passion. You will regret it for the rest of your life. Age is no barrier.



    AMEN


    After four attempts I've finally just gotten onto the course of my dreams, and I'm going to be nearly thirty by the time I graduate. Who gives a fxxk?
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    (Original post by Livvyxo)


    After four attempts I've finally just gotten onto the course of my dreams, and I'm going to be nearly thirty by the time I graduate. Who gives a fxxk?
    Well done to you! That's fantastic! Good luck and enjoy your studies!
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    (Original post by sofiare)
    Hello, I am 20 years old and really struggling with deciding my future.

    I left school early during secondary school due to illness with only GCSE Core Science B, GCSE Mathematics C, GCSE English Language C and GCSE Additional Science C. I then went to work in a residential home and completed my QCF Health and Social Care Level 2.

    It is my dream to study medicine but due to my qualifications I gave up on the idea and looked at other things I could do. So I applied to do an evening course for access to health care professions with the idea that I would do a nursing degree afterwards. However, I began working in a hospital as a HCA and work alongside many health care professionals, and none of their jobs appeal to me other than medicine.
    I feel that if I studied something else just because I thought I couldn’t do medicine I will always regret that I didn’t try, so I have been looking into all of my options.

    I have looked at access to medicine courses, however they are all too far away and I couldn’t afford to move or travel there whilst studying full time.
    I know that I will have to complete my A levels, the issue is that I cannot do an a level course here while I am working full time and would have to quit my job and couldn’t afford to pay rent. I had been looking into taking the exams as a private candidate and doing self-study, however this turned out to be too complicated and very expensive.

    My only option seems to be that I quit my job and move back in with my parents for 2 years and do my a levels.
    So I have applied to a college near my parents to do biology, chemistry, psychology and Italian (as I believe most unis like you to take an 4th AS level?)


    My question is, if I go through all of this to get my a levels, do I even stand a chance at getting in with my GCSE grades? Or will I have to retake them as well?

    This is really causing me a lot of stress as I do not want to keep wasting years of my life that I could be studying and gaining the qualifications I need


    Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you.
    Have you contacted medical schools to ask them directly for advice on the issue of what qualifications would be best (A level or Access) and what subjects to study and what the chances are of gaining entry as a mature student? I only ask because Psychology doesn't seem like the ideal subject and I'm unsure on Italian.... plus nobody but the admissions teams can really answer your questions.

    But to speculate.... the GCSEs go against you but a significant amount of relevant work experience and being a mature student may counter balance that, especially if you can offer a good explanation for the poor GCSEs and get great grades at A level.

    All in all I think 20 is too young to be giving up on your dreams.... I mean if you were 55 I would say you might have to take a bit of a reality check simply because of the time frame involved in studying medicine.

    But you do need to be realistic about your academic capabilities, the practical barriers involved (already a factor judging by your OP) and the time frame which is likely to be 10 years to get close to graduating.

    Other options might be choosing an allied health professional career such as radiographer, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, pharmacist, etc, as these are slightly easier to get into. Or doing a science degree, getting a 2.1+ and then trying to get into graduate entry medicine (although this can be more competitive than undergrad entry).
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    Hi everyone, thank you all for you replies I've had a long think about it and I just don't think it's realistic, I can't afford to go back and do my a levels now and I don't live anywhere near any access to medicine courses, so I'm going to do access to HE allied health and am looking at studying operating department practice instead
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    Last time I checked, you can access graduate-entry medicine with a psychology degree. Even leaving out the fact that it is a Bsc subject, many psychology courses cover some neuroscience and pharmacology. You'd still need work experience to show commitment and an understanding of the profession but there are so many routes into medicine - not least because they keep talking about the lack of doctors. I was going to use my OU psych degree to get graduate entry medicine but have instead chosen clinical psychology
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    (Original post by sofiare)
    Hi everyone, thank you all for you replies I've had a long think about it and I just don't think it's realistic, I can't afford to go back and do my a levels now and I don't live anywhere near any access to medicine courses, so I'm going to do access to HE allied health and am looking at studying operating department practice instead
    If medicine really is your passion, you can home study with the open university. A degree from there is as good, if not better than the majority of other uni's - simply because it demonstrates commitment to learning and self direction. Both massive pluses for a medicine course.

    You could work full time whilst studying part time with them and who knows where you'll be living or your financial situation in six years time. You would still be plenty young enough to do graduate entry medicine
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    If medicine is really your dream, you shouldn't let it go just yet. The fact you have the opportunity to live with your parents for 2 years and study A levels is a major reason as to why you should give it a go.

    If you work solidly from day 1 of college, start volunteering and work experience (although work experience is certainly less important than long term volunteering) soon as possible and try your best to sit the UKCAT this year as practice, you'd stand a good chance. The A level subjects you've chosen to study are fine; the only potential problem is that I dont think you have enough GCSEs (you probably need about 6 at a minimum? Best to email some medical schools to double check). You could easily pick up an extra GCSE or 2 alongside your A levels.

    Im going to be absolutely honest though, with your academic profile as it stands you would have to be very careful about where you applied. You probably wouldn't stand much of a chance at more 'prestigous' unis, but you could definitley have a shot elsewhere. So called prestige doesn't matter in medicine anyway, no one cares where you went to uni once you graduate. Im at medical school and I know a graduate with a 3rd and another who got a first in their degree but failed their A levels. It goes to show theres always a way, even when it looks like all hope is lost!

    Plus, at 20 youre still really young. You have nothing to lose by gaining some good A levels; they will only ever benefit you. What if you became an ODP but then decided to apply for medicine in the future? With A levels in hand, you'd have many options.
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