Hi everyone! Today’s post is a guest blog by TheDepressedMedStudent on reapplying to medicine after being unsuccessful the first/second/even third or fourth time round. I’m sure it will be of use to fellow medical applicants like myself, as well as future medical applicants. Of course, rejection can be crushing, but as TheDepressedMedStudent and his experiences illustrate, it’s not the be all and end all, and often having to take a gap year could be a blessing in disguise. So, without further ado, have a read of TheDepressedMedStudent’s guest blog…
Author bio: TheDepressedMedStudent is a second year medical student at Imperial College London. He runs a blog trying to raise awareness for mental health issues amongst medical students.
If we play the statistics game, it is likely that the majority of medical applicants will end up experiencing the pain of rejection – according to theMSAG, of the 21644 applicants to UK medical schools, only 7513 were successful (1). In other words, just over 65% of medical applicants get rejected when they apply.
Rejection hurts. It doesn’t matter what the circumstance is, it will always leave a mark. In many ways though, medical applicants are perhaps the worst when it comes to dealing with rejection. For many of them, this will be the first time that they’ll have experienced such a thing. Many of them will be used to coming top of their classes, scoring top grades in their GCSEs and A-Levels, constantly scoring top marks on their homework assignments or coursework – you name it. Now, suddenly, they will have experienced something that is very alien to them.
I myself was part of this majority. In fact, I didn’t even get a single interview when I first applied for Medical School. I was left completely heartbroken, devastated and confused. For the years prior, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that I had stayed up late many nights working, preparing my application and getting voluntary work under my belt. I desperately wanted to study Medicine and was doing all I could to get a place. But now it seemed as though that dream was shattered.
Except it wasn’t. After a gap year, with a little bit more experience, I was packing to get myself ready to start Medical School. And boy, was all the struggle worth it to finally get that positive update on Track.
So here are my tips for moving on from this situation. Throughout, I will be assuming that you still want to study Medicine.
Try not to lose motivation
This is very easy for me to say and very difficult to follow in practice. It is extremely easy to begin to lose motivation. You see all your friends around you applying for different courses getting offers, all excited to be going off to university and continue with their lives. Meanwhile, you sit back and think to yourself: Why did I waste my time for the past few years?
It’s important to realise, however, that you have not been wasting your time at all. Currently, this is all just a minor setback and delay in your future. It is not the case that studying Medicine for you is now impossible, and it is very important to realise that. What will make studying Medicine extremely difficult, however, is if you end up losing motivation completely, don’t work for your A-Levels and end up scoring less than AAA on them. It is vital that you don’t end up in that position.Use the opportunity of not having a university application to worry about to just concentrate fully on your A-Levels – they are the most important thing.
Try to get feedback
At medical school, we are constantly told of the importance of receiving and giving feedback. Only through this feedback can we hope to progress through medical school, becoming better medical students and people in the process. Feedback is extremely important, and this is no exception.
Most medical schools are more than happy to give feedback to unsuccessful applicants. Make use of this – the feedback they give can be invaluable. In my case, my BMAT had been too low for two of the medical schools where I had applied and my personal statement was said to be the issue for the other two. This helped me a lot with my reapplication, for it showed me which areas I needed to concentrate on.
As well as asking for feedback, make sure that you yourself reflect on your application. There are many reasons for getting rejected from medical school. Sometimes, it can be due to just the sheer competition but in most other cases, it can be due to not applying wisely. Consider the following (although it is by no means exhaustive):
- Did you meet the minimum academic entry requirements for your choices? (You’ll be surprised how many don’t!)
- Did your personal statement match the criteria that the medical school has listed on their website?
- Were there any minimum work experience/voluntary work requirements that you didn’t meet?
- Did you apply to medical schools that suit your strengths? For example, if you have strong academics, did you apply to medical schools that place more emphasis on the personal statement than academics and vice versa?
Don’t worry what others around you think – this is nothing to be ashamed of!
Again, this can be difficult for many people, and I remember it was difficult for me. Many friends and family may be aware that you applied for medicine, and it can be difficult to realise what to say and do when you’ve not got in. It’s important not to worry about what they think, however – it is completely unnecessary and their thoughts are irrelevant. Remember that it is very unlikely that anyone will be disappointed in you. They will almost certainly be disappointed for you, but not in you.
Nor should you be disappointed in yourself, especially if you have tried your best. The application system is absolutely brutal and competitive and, as the statistics show, you are in the majority. This does not in any way, shape or form have a reflection on your suitability to become a doctor or a medical student.
A word on Gap Years vs Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM)
In my case, I took a gap year and reapplied for medicine. Some may be tempted to do another university degree first and then apply for Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) after that. I would strongly urge against the latter – GEM is extremely competitive (even more so than this time round!), expensive and the future of GEM is uncertain. The only circumstance where I would recommend GEM is if you’ve scored less than AAA in your A-Levels.
My happy ending
Eventually, after more than a year of waiting, I had finally got my first interview call. I cannot express in words just how happy that made me. I hadn’t even received an offer yet but I was celebrating as though I had. Then when the offer did come eventually – let’s just say that there were tears of happiness involved.
Getting rejected from medical school has had no implications at all on my time at medical school. Nor is there any age gap – lots of people are here after having been rejected one, two, three or even more times and it is not hard at all to fit in.
I’m glad I didn’t give up – and nor should you.
Many thanks to TheDepressedMedStudent for taking the time to write this blog post. I hope its beneficial to any medical applicants reading, as I know it has been for me!
Do have a read of his blog: thedepressedmedstudent.com
Follow him on twitter at: https://twitter.com/usycool1?lang=en-gb (@usycool1)