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Getting into Medicine, Lifestyle, Opinion

My Journey to Medical School

Why I don’t regret doing another degree before Medicine

There is no ‘one-way’ into Medical School, in fact there must be dozens. The most commonly thought of route is of course: Secondary School → Sixth Form/College → Medical School, but this is definitely not the only way.

I have wanted to be a Doctor for as long as I can remember, before the age of ten I had a model human body with removable organs and a copy of Gray’s Anatomy (the book not the TV show).

Given all this time to prepare, you would expect that I would have taken this ‘standard route’, but despite knowing that Medicine was my end goal for all these years, I still chose to do another degree first. And these are my reasons why.

1. I was a shy student.

When applying to university, I was a completely different person to who I am now. I didn’t even release how much more confident I had become until I undertook work experience in my second year of university. When I had first shadowed consultants back when I was 15, and even the second time when I was 17, I was INSANELY shy. I would have all these questions for the doctors about the procedures or patients I was seeing, but would be way too shy to actually ask them. When I undertook work experience in a hospital for the third time, when I was 20 and in my second year of university, this shyness had left me completely. I almost asked too many questions, if that’s possible. Instead of coming home with an notebook filled with unanswered questions, I came home with the actual answers, which I then could use during my med school applications.

2. My first degree gave me a whole new depth of understanding.

Although they are two completely separate degrees, there is definitely a great deal of overlap between Biomedical Sciences and Medicine. Biomedical Sciences generally prepares you to become a scientist, and Medicine obviously prepares you to become a doctor; but this doesn’t mean that the knowledge from one doesn’t help with the other. Biomed helped me to understand the detailed science behind some of the concepts covered in Medicine. It also helped my develop laboratory and research skills, as I had to undertake a Research Project as part of my final year assessment.

3. I learnt how to be a student, without the additional pressure of medicine.

Moving out of home and learning to look after yourself can be hard for a lot of people. For some people this is the first time they’ve cooked, cleaned and done their own washing. It takes time to adjust, and for me I didn’t want to do all of this alongside a notoriously high pressure course. As I said before, I was a shy 18 year old, and it took me a while to adjust to university life.

4. I learnt how to learn.

Studying at university is very different to learning at school. It is so much more independent and a lot of techniques that I used for my A-Levels no longer worked. For my A-Levels I would just digest a textbook and spit it out for my exams (a lovely mental picture I know). THIS WILL NOT WORK at university. There is no single textbook that you can learn word for word. You have to learn how to think for yourself, not just remember something that someone else has thought of.

5. I didn’t believe I could do it.

This is the worst reason for me, and I know it is a big barrier for a lot of other people. The fear of rejection was definitely a big component in me not applying for Medicine whilst I was doing my A-Levels, and if I could say anything to my 18-year-old self, I would tell her to toughen up and go for it anyway, because there was nothing to lose.

Even though I wish I had the confidence back then, I still don’t regret my decision to do another degree first. I have learnt invaluable lessons, met friends I will have for the rest of my life, and have a Degree qualification under my belt. (Hopefully that’s worth eight years of university and many thousands of pounds in tuition)

My point is: just because your route in may be little bit different, doesn’t make you any less of a med student or Doctor (Hopefully it will make me a better one 😉 ). Everyone becomes ready in their own time, so don’t rush into something you’re not ready for.

If you’re applying for medicine or know someone is, check out my other posts to help you along your journey!

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