Have you always dreamed of being a doctor? Did you decide before you went to uni that perhaps some other course might suit you better? Was that a mistake? All is not necessarily lost. There are routes in for people from a range of backgrounds and there is the option of graduate entry.
How does graduate entry work?
Courses are usually 4 years in length, as compared to 5 years for an undergraduate course, they lead to the qualifications MBChB or MBBS. There are currently 12 institutions offering graduate entry to medicine courses. Places are limited and it can be even more competitive than applying for undergraduate study of medicine. Many courses require you to have studied a life science degree or to have certain A-level grades in science subjects, but some offer more flexibility. Newcastle, Nottingham, St Georges, Swansea and Warwick all accept applicants from any degree discipline and they value the diversity that studying in different areas provides. In order to apply for these courses you will need to pass an admissions test, meet their other academic requirements, which almost always include a 2:1 degree classification (although St Georges will consider a 2:2) and have 70+ hours of relevant experience.
Is medicine for you?
The requirement to get work experience provides you with the perfect opportunity to explore whether medicine is for you. It is not an easy profession and despite an impression that doctors are very well paid, if money is your prime motivator a career in investment banking or law might offer a quicker return
This work experience needs to involve patient contact. This can take the form of volunteering. Working in care homes, hospital wards or hospices can be a very good way of gaining an understanding of how different medical professionals interact and how they all take responsibility for the care of patients. These types of positions tend to be longer term commitments, something you might do over the course of a year rather than for just two weeks. Hospitals also sometimes offer work shadowing opportunities (spending a day or a portion of a day with a healthcare professional). You might also consider paid roles in health care such as Health Care Assistants.
Different institutions demand different admissions tests. These are the BMAT, the GAMSAT, and the UKCAT. When researching potential course providers check which admission test they require as the tests have differing costs and registration dates (just to add to the confusion). There are practice tests available on line and you should use these to prepare. The score you receive from your test plays a pivotal role in application success so this element is not to be underestimated.
Applications to Graduate Entry to Medicine are made through UCAS, in the autumn term of your final year. You submit a personal statement outlining your interest and commitment to medicine. You will need to give a clear and consistent account of where your decision to study medicine has come from and how you have explored the decision (Hint: your work experience is going to come in very handy here). You will want to be able to show evidence of reflection; this is a crucial part of the professional development of a medic. You will also want to provide evidence of your ability to study at this level and your rationale for why you have choosing particular courses or institutions. If you make it through the first screen you will be invited to interview. You may encounter “Multiple Mini Interviews” whereby you rotate round different interview stations undergoing different tests at each.
Medicine is certainly not a fall back option or a career to be entered into lightly. However it does potentially offer intrinsic rewards. Routes in are highly competitive but at Warwick there is support available from Student Careers and Skills.