I remember when I was in year 6 and my sisters friend asked me what I wanted to be. I said I wanted to be a neurosurgeon and she laughed at me; at that moment I knew medicine was definitely what I wanted to study. By the age of 11 I had fully researched everything I needed to do to become a doctor and stuck it on my bedroom wall; eventhough most of it was wrong. Throughout High School, I was very actively involved in pretty much every sport e.g. football, netball, basketball, table tennis, badminton and hockey. I ran my own Gospel Choir, was in the Student Voice, a peer mentor and Deputy Head Girl and continued to work extremely hard. I got the 3rd highest grades in my year group and came out with 7 A*’s, 3 A’s and 1 B in my GCSE’s so I decided to continue to pursue medicine.
Then came A-Levels, I moved to a different 6th Form in a different town which was quite a big adjustment socially. Little did I know that studying for your A-Levels does not compare to GCSE’s at all; it’s a completely different ball game and I began to doubt myself. I thought I wasn’t going to get the grades I needed to even apply for Medicine. I studied Chemistry, Biology, Psychology and Maths which as you know aren’t easy subjects. I doubted myself so much that I started looking to pursue pharmacology or cognitive neuroscience and psychology and I felt that I couldn’t do Medicine. I was never the smartest in my class and my teachers overlooked me and categorised me as one of the overambitious black girls in my 6th form. I couldn’t decide on what I wanted to study and I would change my mind like every other week but deep down Medicine was always my passion. This whole while I struggled to find any medical work experience but I told myself if I get good AS grades I would still apply. AS results day came and I was pleased with my grades; Maths – A, Biology – A, Psychology – A, Chemistry – B.
My next obstacle was the UKCAT, I started revising very last minute as I had only decided that I was going to apply for Medicine on results day and had booked the test for the 1st of September, 2 days before the start of year 13. I used KAPLAN books burrowed from the library to revise but they were quite old and so I paid for MEDIFY which I highly recommend. My UKCAT score was quite low but apparently average (638) so I was quite disheartened. So I really researched Medical School’s in terms of their entry requirements and UKCAT threshold to see if I had the chance to be shortlisted for an interview.
The next obstacle came when my school gave me my predicted grades, Biology – A, Psychology – A, Chemistry – B. Most medical schools entry requirements are AAA at least so a B in Chemistry meant that I wouldn’t be shortlisted for any interviews. After my parents spoke to my head of 6th form and me crying in her office, she eventually changed my grade and I could apply for Medicine. Around this time I met my mentor who was an established General Practitioner and she was the greatest blessing. She helped me with my personal statement which was redrafted about 17 times, yes 17! But as I redrafted my personal statement I was always very down because I had no medical work experience but my mentor continued to encourage me.
I applied for BioMedical Science at King’s College London and Medicine at Hull York Medical School, Queen’s Belfast, University of Bristol and Cardiff University. I got into KCL and was shortlisted for interviews at Queen’s Belfast, University of Bristol and Cardiff University. (I’ll take about my interviews in another post). Lucky for me my mentor and school organised practise interviews but I still felt that I wasn’t good enough and cried after each one. Eventually I got an offer from Cardiff and Bristol which were placed as my firm and insurance.
Exam season for me was so stressful as I am heavily involved in my church and I sing in several choirs, some days I would get hope after 12am on the day of my exam. I struggled in my exams and to be honest I thought I had failed and whenever people asked me what I wanted to study I never fully confidently claimed that I wanted to study medicine, I always avoided the subject when asked. But now I can boldly say I study Medicine. On results day I remember checking UCAS track first because if I saw my grades first I probably would have freaked out. I ended up getting a B in Biology (4 UMS off an A) and A’s in Chemistry and Pyschology. But I got into Medical School.
Applying for medicine is a very tedious process and at many times along the way I felt to quit. But you should never settle!
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