How I handled getting rejected from medical school
When I was in Year 13, I applied for undergraduate medicine as that is the subject I wanted to study really badly at university. With medical school, it all depends on how passionate you are about the course, how much you have researched around the institutions you’re applying to (as you’d be applying to your strengths), how much work experience you have undetaken, and I hate to admit it, but a tiny bit of luck as well.
My academic side was never the strongest – I had no chance against people with straight A*s at GCSEs and predictions of A*s in A Levels. Oxbridge and the GCSE heavy universities were out of my options. I applied to Keele, Nottingham, Birmingham and East Anglia. Three of the universities focused more on the work experiene aspects, the medical admissions test and personal statements. I pretty much put my soul into my application. I was definitely passionate about wanting to study medicine further, but the competitiveness of the course meant that I often doubted getting into medical school.
After I applied, the next few months were stressful. Seeing people in my year get interview invitations and the fact that I didn’t even have a response kept getting me distracted from my actual A levels. Two months after,I then received the rejections from Birmingham and Keele. They, by that point, already selected everyone they wanted to invite for interview. Gutted, I carried on waiting, without much hope, for the decisions from the other two. Again, a while after,I had them – INTERVIEW invitations to East Anglia and Nottingham. This made the inner hope I had deep inside rise and I tried my hardest to prepare for the interviews. I was always a bit on the shyer side when it came to interviews and never really knew how to answer them. The interview at East Anglia was an MMI one, which meant that I had to go round different stations and there’d be different scenarios, different skills being tested in each. I wasn’t prepared enough for these and that day was certainly not my best and when I walked out, I knew that this would be a rejection.
The interview at Nottingham went well I thought. The interviewers I was sitting across from seemed happy with my responses and because I went to the summer school at Nottingham before that as well, I thought I had a good shot there. Two weeks after the interview came the dreadful news from both – Unsuccesful after interview.
At this point in life, I didn’t know how to react. I had no plan B whatsoever and Medicine is all I ever considered as a career. I was so fixated on becoming a doctor and to go on and specialise in Gynaecology and Obstetrics. Of course, the decision with the speciality could possiby have changed whilst I was in medical school, but at that point and even now, this speciality seems the most intriguing to me.
Following this, I became really depressed – I locked myself in my room for weeks and cried as I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t possibly think of anything else I wanted to study and I ended up doing badly in my A levels as a result.
I decided to leave a gap year to seriously think about what else I may enjoy. I spoke to various people, who all advised that I should go on to study Biomedical Sciences as that will help me the most to get into graduate medicine after. I didn’t want to do a subject if I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as I could. I looked around all the courses and fixed my mind on Chemistry. This is the subject I enjoyed the most during GCSEs as well as A levels. I looked around the course modules, spoke to a couple of undergraduate chemists and went to open days. I then decided that Warwick is probably the best option as it’s the closest to home and the Chemistry department is excellent. I realised my grades were hindering me and I seeked advice from my head of sixth form and the undergraduate admissions team at Warwick. Both of them came back to me to say that maybe retaking my A2 exams could be advantegous. I resat my A Levels and went to Warwick.
Now, I believe that this is possibly the best decision I could have taken. I love my course and although I have options of taking external biology modules, I have found a passion towards my subject that I just want to keep studying modules with my department. Of course, I haven’t given up on Medicine. I am at the end of my second year now and I will reapply for graduate entry medicine this October. Medicine is my dream and although I always knew I wanted to study Medicine, the rejections I received during sixth form, are what taught me how desperately I want to study Medicine. I just also believe that it is important to have a back up option just in case you don’t quite make it there. For example, if I am unsuccesful in this cycle as well, I will carry on to do a Masters in Chemistry and reapply for Medicine. There’s nothing wrong with having a passion for two subjects. Medicine is the career I want to go into, but Chemistry is the foundation behind it, and one day this chemical knowledge could prove to show me a route in Medicine, ultimately combining the both into a speciality that I would enjoy more.
I hope this post has given an insight of what a rejection can feel like. Rejections are painful and you don’t want to receive them, however sometimes they just show you how much you are willing to fight for it and how much you want to get there.
Good luck for everyone that has exams coming up! This reminds me, I should go and revise!