VS1707
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#1
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#1
Hi Ecolier (and others).

I have seen many of your posts on Medicine threads for some years now. For some context, I applied to Medicine for 2019 entry during sixth form and received two offers however unfortunately received ACC in my A Levels (Maths,Bio,Chem). Hindsight is wonderful but at the time I never had a backup plan besides a UCAS 5th option of medical engineering that was more so as my school encouraged me to have a 5th choice. On results day, I was devastated and at a loss. I ended up choosing to do BSc Mathematics as my confidence was knocked and I felt I was better off doing what I was good at on paper and I know the recommendation is the resit ALWAYS but I looked thoroughly and I was severely restricted as my first sitting grades were not high enough for some unis that accepted resits and one even would require me to resit Maths (A) because all exams would have to be in the same sitting. There was also the risk that after taking a year out independently to study, I would then submit a UCAS application with an entrance exam score that may not be enough and I would end up having taken two unplanned years out. So in my mind, it made sense to do Maths at a good university as it would open many doors for me and I would have three years to explore other careers and decide later on.

I ended up at the same university I had firmed for medicine so my accommodation was at the health sciences campus and I walked past the medical school on my road daily to do a 40 min walk to the main campus for a course I never planned doing (I didn’t sit A Level Maths at first, I took it externally with no support besides family for a year as I decided a month into sixth form that it would necessary so I would achieve three As in my A Levels). I met several of the medical students who had I achieved the grades would have been in the same cohort. In conversations, it would come up that I have originally planned to do Medicine. The majority of the students would agree and say they would not resit/reapply and some even would take it as a ‘sign’.

Last September, I applied to GEM. I am predicted a (2:1) and will graduate this year. I received no interviews as I sat the GAMSAT and had a 49 in Section 1 and 57 overall, which admittedly isn’t a competitive score but for those few unis that would select a 57 for interviews, the 49 in Section 1 would discard my application immediately.

In January I made the decision to resit Biology and Chemistry A Levels as it would give me further options for a non-science background application with unis that require specific grades at A Level.

Now, I have decided to take a gap year as I want to take some time off to explore other interests and avoid burnout as perseverance in a challenging degree I have no interest or passion in has taken its toll. I am currently not sure if I will apply for GEM again (I am not in a financial position for the undergraduate courses). I always think about the interview question ‘What would you do if you were unsuccessful in your application?’. Hypothetically if I apply again (dependant on my academics and entrance exams), if I applied and was offered an interview and asked this question the truth is after a potential three unsuccessful cycles in the space of five years, I do not believe it would be rational for me to apply again. Each year there are more applicants, these past years due to online examinations etc the grade inflation for degrees and school applicants also does not work in my favour. As much as it pains me, surely it would be better to pursue an alternative career potentially allied to medicine using my degree and try compromise and have some aspects in Medicine although ultimately I will admit it will not be the same.

I have been so invested in my application that I have lost myself against the way. I have felt mentally ill and that it was all or nothing (medicine or no life worth living if I cannot have the career I desire). A fourth unsuccessful cycle would be detrimental to my health, however, I do not want it to come across as that I am not committed. I have been in a place where I was so committed to a career in Medicine that I would sacrifice my life if it was not possible which is not healthy. It is encouraging for people to say not to give up but surely at one point when the exhaustion and financial expenses are at a personal limit, it is right to walk away?

My fear is that it would be seen as that I am not mentally capable of a degree in Medicine but if I wasn’t I would not have continued with my degree just to achieve a 2:1 to study Medicine.

I apologise for the length of this post but I wanted your opinion as I believe you are in a better place to offer advice as you are not biased i.e. myself/friends and family. What are your thoughts on this?

Thank you very much.
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Idk131
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#2
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#2
Aww I just want to give you a hug, I am sorry you had to go through all that
Last edited by Idk131; 4 weeks ago
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ecolier
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#3
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#3
(Original post by VS1707)
... It is encouraging for people to say not to give up but surely at one point when the exhaustion and financial expenses are at a personal limit, it is right to walk away?
Sorry to hear of your situation.

And yes, of course it is 100% right to walk away. Your mental health is always the most important.

I apologise for the length of this post but I wanted your opinion as I believe you are in a better place to offer advice as you are not biased i.e. myself/friends and family. What are your thoughts on this?

Thank you very much.
I think that you do need to take a gap year (or several) to re-evaluate your options.

Medicine is not the be all and end all. Have you re-considered why you want to do Medicine in the first place?
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TriplexA
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#4
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#4
Hi there.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this - I'm sorry to hear this but hope that you're post helps other users to realise from your personal journey the realities of getting into GEM which ecolier and many others always advise about.

ecolier got here before me (I was going to tag him) but I'll post anyways to wish you the very best.

As stated above looking after yourself is the most important thing.
Take care and stay safe.
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ecolier
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#5
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#5
(Original post by TriplexA)
Hi there.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this - I'm sorry to hear this but hope that you're post helps other users to realise from your personal journey the realities of getting into GEM which ecolier and many others always advise about.

ecolier got here before me (I was going to tag him) but I'll post anyways to wish you the very best.

As stated above looking after yourself is the most important thing.
Take care and stay safe.
PRSOM :yy:
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VS1707
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#6
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#6
(Original post by ecolier)
Sorry to hear of your situation.

And yes, of course it is 100% right to walk away. Your mental health is always the most important.



I think that you do need to take a gap year (or several) to re-evaluate your options.

Medicine is not the be all and end all. Have you re-considered why you want to do Medicine in the first place?
My anxiety is that because my mental health is heavily influenced by failed applications for a potential career, medical professionals would see that as I am not mentally capable of studying medicine but to me they are separate.

The reason I wanted to do Medicine and what has kept me interested years on (I also did a separate degree as I believed or hoped there would be another degree that I could enjoy as surely everyone out there doesn’t only have one career that would suit them). Anyway to answer your question, it was the diverse nature of a medical career - opportunity for clincic/research/teaching etc. The anatomy and physiology of the human body fascinate me because of their complex nature and how there are always exceptions to this (i.e. how someone could be born without the heart in the ‘normal’ place and how and renal agenesis and so much more). I did a lot of volunteering and work experience prior to uni in health care settings and the patient contact was something I really liked. I also want a challenging and stimulating career. Particularly, during COVID, I had so much interest in communicable diseases - the treatment and how interesting that a virus itself has the capability to mutate and survive.

To me it is not necessary to have a specific salary or be valued/known. I just wanted a career that utilises all of the above.
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ecolier
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#7
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#7
(Original post by VS1707)
My anxiety is that because my mental health is heavily influenced by failed applications for a potential career, medical professionals would see that as I am not mentally capable of studying medicine but to me they are separate.
Not at all, I don't think medical professionals would find dealing with repeated rejections easy to handle either.

The reason I wanted to do Medicine and what has kept me interested years on (I also did a separate degree as I believed or hoped there would be another degree that I could enjoy as surely everyone out there doesn’t only have one career that would suit them). Anyway to answer your question, it was the diverse nature of a medical career - opportunity for clincic/research/teaching etc. The anatomy and physiology of the human body fascinate me because of their complex nature and how there are always exceptions to this (i.e. how someone could be born without the heart in the ‘normal’ place and how and renal agenesis and so much more). I did a lot of volunteering and work experience prior to uni in health care settings and the patient contact was something I really liked. I also want a challenging and stimulating career. Particularly, during COVID, I had so much interest in communicable diseases - the treatment and how interesting that a virus itself has the capability to mutate and survive.

To me it is not necessary to have a specific salary or be valued/known. I just wanted a career that utilises all of the above.
Have you considered alternatives e.g. Physician Associate?
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VS1707
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#8
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#8
(Original post by ecolier)
Not at all, I don't think medical professionals would find dealing with repeated rejections easy to handle either.



Have you considered alternatives e.g. Physician Associate?
So with a Physician Associate I would not be able to apply via a uni as I don’t have a science related degree. Sometimes I also feel it would be too difficult to work in that environment having been unsuccessful with medicine as I would find it difficult to move on and not want to pursue a career in medicine and be stuck in a vicious cycle
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ecolier
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#9
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#9
(Original post by VS1707)
So with a Physician Associate I would not be able to apply via a uni as I don’t have a science related degree. Sometimes I also feel it would be too difficult to work in that environment having been unsuccessful with medicine as I would find it difficult to move on and not want to pursue a career in medicine and be stuck in a vicious cycle
That may be true, but you can't keep trying and trying forever at the expense of your mental health... especially if you are limited to only being able to apply to graduate entry medicine courses which as you have experienced - is several times more competitive.
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VS1707
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#10
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#10
(Original post by ecolier)
That may be true, but you can't keep trying and trying forever at the expense of your mental health... especially if you are limited to only being able to apply to graduate entry medicine courses which as you have experienced - is several times more competitive.
I completely agree with you. That is why I am torn between knowing if I should apply again ‘a last time’ or not as I will have taken the A Levels for this. I have no expectations but as you know there’s the prep for an entrance exam again and gaining more experience so I’m torn. I truly wish it was simple to walk away but I don’t know anymore if trying is even worth it.
The year after I would definitely not apply again because I will have to secure a decent grad job to have some financial stability etc and gain experience as my CV as it stands is just volunteering and the only work experience had been in healthcare
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ecolier
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#11
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#11
(Original post by VS1707)
I completely agree with you. That is why I am torn between knowing if I should apply again ‘a last time’ or not as I will have taken the A Levels for this. I have no expectations but as you know there’s the prep for an entrance exam again and gaining more experience so I’m torn. I truly wish it was simple to walk away but I don’t know anymore if trying is even worth it.
The year after I would definitely not apply again because I will have to secure a decent grad job to have some financial stability etc and gain experience as my CV as it stands is just volunteering and the only work experience had been in healthcare
It's not an easy decision to make - are all the med schools you'll be applying to GAMSAT? If not - take the UCAT, and see what scores you get.

If not high enough, then take that "as a sign". For the GAMSAT as you know the next sitting is in September but you won't know your score until November which is well after the UCAS deadline.
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VS1707
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#12
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#12
(Original post by ecolier)
It's not an easy decision to make - are all the med schools you'll be applying to GAMSAT? If not - take the UCAT, and see what scores you get.

If not high enough, then take that "as a sign". For the GAMSAT as you know the next sitting is in September but you won't know your score until November which is well after the UCAS deadline.
I don’t think I would do the GAMSAT again as it as very expensive. As for the UCAT, it is unlikely that I will end up in the top 5% which therefore results in no interviews.
Warwick have a more ‘achievable’ cut off but the work experience criteria is one that I do not meet.

Therefore, I would apply to Cambridge/Oxford as they look at the A Levels and Oxford requires the BMAT. Due to me restricting myself, it is even more difficult.

If I achieved a first in my degree it may carry more weighting and a lower UCAT at QM but my exams are timed and in person and I realistically will have a high 2:1 (based on completed components), however several applicants graduating now and recently will probably have a first due to grade inflation and unfortunately they do not take in to account exam conditions. Following this, for Cambridge I would be up against applicants with significant work experience over years so it very much is a narrow chance and for the BMAT there is no indication of how I will perform in November relative to everyone else.

I do have ECs for my degree for two of the years but again that is just one aspect of the application.
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ecolier
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#13
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#13
(Original post by VS1707)
I don’t think I would do the GAMSAT again as it as very expensive. As for the UCAT, it is unlikely that I will end up in the top 5% which therefore results in no interviews.
Warwick have a more ‘achievable’ cut off but the work experience criteria is one that I do not meet.

Therefore, I would apply to Cambridge/Oxford as they look at the A Levels and Oxford requires the BMAT. Due to me restricting myself, it is even more difficult.

If I achieved a first in my degree it may carry more weighting and a lower UCAT at QM but my exams are timed and in person and I realistically will have a high 2:1 (based on completed components), however several applicants graduating now and recently will probably have a first due to grade inflation and unfortunately they do not take in to account exam conditions. Following this, for Cambridge I would be up against applicants with significant work experience over years so it very much is a narrow chance and for the BMAT there is no indication of how I will perform in November relative to everyone else.

I do have ECs for my degree for two of the years but again that is just one aspect of the application.
What's stopping you from doing work experience / working in a care environment?
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VS1707
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#14
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#14
(Original post by ecolier)
What's stopping you from doing work experience / working in a care environment?
Definitely would want to - so unfortunately last summer I could not apply to hospitals nearby as I was not there for the min 6 months and then at uni there was the issues of me applying later and having time off in holidays so it would not be appropriate. When I finish the A Levels next month, I will be aiming to start volunteering! So universities from my understanding are lenient with covid having prevented this for the past two years but again there are many people with years of experience in a hospital environment
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ecolier
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#15
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#15
(Original post by VS1707)
Definitely would want to - so unfortunately last summer I could not apply to hospitals nearby as I was not there for the min 6 months and then at uni there was the issues of me applying later and having time off in holidays so it would not be appropriate. When I finish the A Levels next month, I will be aiming to start volunteering! So universities from my understanding are lenient with covid having prevented this for the past two years but again there are many people with years of experience in a hospital environment
That's very true. What about actually working in a hospital and not work experience, can you try that?
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VS1707
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#16
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#16
(Original post by ecolier)
That's very true. What about actually working in a hospital and not work experience, can you try that?
I am fortunate to live in London so have many hospitals I can travel to for work but most vacancies seem to be a permanent contract. I was looking to seek work at a health clinic alternatively as any health experience would be extremely useful particularly as my experience was mainly limited to shadowing so I was intending to contact and see if I could apply for part-time work for 6 months.
I do not need to be paid and just want the experience but I also trying to prioritise my academic side (A levels now and then I have several exams deferred to August for uni) so I cannot afford to work several hours at the moment
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ecolier
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#17
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#17
(Original post by VS1707)
I am fortunate to live in London so have many hospitals I can travel to for work but most vacancies seem to be a permanent contract.
No way, even Healthcare Assistant? Granted some places may ask for prior experience, but not everywhere!

I was looking to seek work at a health clinic alternatively as any health experience would be extremely useful particularly as my experience was mainly limited to shadowing so I was intending to contact and see if I could apply for part-time work for 6 months.
I do not need to be paid and just want the experience but I also trying to prioritise my academic side (A levels now and then I have several exams deferred to August for uni) so I cannot afford to work several hours at the moment
What about volunteering in hospitals? Surely you won't be asked to be there permanently.
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VS1707
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#18
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#18
(Original post by ecolier)
No way, even Healthcare Assistant? Granted some places may ask for prior experience, but not everywhere!



What about volunteering in hospitals? Surely you won't be asked to be there permanently.
Yes you’re correct, there are HCA positions that are flexible so I can definitely apply to those and I have volunteered in a care home before so have a bit of experience.
And I am applying for volunteering but trying to find more hands on roles as opposed to admin volunteering or steward roles.
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ecolier
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#19
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#19
(Original post by VS1707)
Yes you’re correct, there are HCA positions that are flexible so I can definitely apply to those and I have volunteered in a care home before so have a bit of experience.
And I am applying for volunteering but trying to find more hands on roles as opposed to admin volunteering or steward roles.
A lot of volunteering roles are hands on (e.g. speaking to patients during dialysis / chemotherapy or serving food etc.)

Let us know how you get on!
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VS1707
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#20
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#20
(Original post by ecolier)
A lot of volunteering roles are hands on (e.g. speaking to patients during dialysis / chemotherapy or serving food etc.)

Let us know how you get on!
Thank you so much - I will apply to more and see what I can get!
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