My name is Lorraine and I’m a 28-year-old, currently about to complete my 2 nd year of Graduate Entry Medicine at the University of Nottingham. When dreaming about going to medical school, I never anticipated that I’d have taken the route that it took to get me here – I didn’t even know that GEM existed! However, in retrospect, I appreciate the pros of taking the scenic route.
In school, I was always a ‘gifted and talented’ student with the ability to get A grades. However, I was easily distracted and at the time didn’t appreciate the importance of effort and dedication. I got As and Bs at GCSE and went to college thinking this would be a good foundation to get the As necessary for Medicine. During induction, my Chemistry teacher-to-be saw my GCSEs and told me I couldn’t get into medical school with them – with a lack of support, it’s no surprise that I dropped his class during AS-level! Again, I was too laid back for my own good and ended up leaving with grades BCD. I knew this wasn’t good enough, so decided to apply for Paediatric Nursing as I thought it would be similar to Medicine. After a term, I quickly realised the role differences and decided it wasn’t for me.
The next academic year, I began studying Biomedical Science, a degree that I felt would still allow me to have healthcare experience and develop my scientific skills. But, it was during that course that I fell pregnant with my son. At that point, I was at a crossroads – do I pack it all in and go back home, or do I try to continue? Luckily for me, I cared a lot more about my studies than I let on and I’m also more resilient than I sometimes give myself credit for. That summer, 5 months pregnant, I sat my end of first year exams before taking a gap year for maternity leave (he was due in October so the timing couldn’t be more perfect!). I then transferred to a London university for 2 nd and 3 rd year to raise my baby while completing my studies. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, and although I graduated with a 2:2, I was so very proud of myself (I scored 59.3%, so 0.2% away from being rounded up to a 2:1, I’ve never known frustration like that!).
As you may or may not know, the majority of UK universities require a minimum of a 2:1 for Graduate Entry Medicine. I was limited to only 5 universities with my 2:2 and would had have to have a master’s degree in addition to be eligible. I then studied Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial College London – not only to reach this requirement, but also because it’s an area I’m so passionate about. My passion linked with my determination to prove my academic ability led to me graduating with a Distinction! My proudest moment to date (other than becoming a mummy of course!). At the age of 26, I got an offer to study Medicine at the University of Nottingham, and the rest is history.
I definitely didn’t decide to take this route. However, I’m grateful because everything happens for a reason. Had I gotten in at 18, I wouldn’t have all the life and work experience I have now. I may not even have my beautiful son! I wouldn’t have had the pleasure to say that I am an alum of Imperial College, and I wouldn’t be able to say that I’m a Master of Reproductive Biology, which will help me for my desired future in Obstetrics. I have learned so much about myself – that I achieve my best when I try, and most importantly that I am a diamond. Pressure really did get me to where I am. I also learned that Medicine is not only for the ‘smart’ but more so for the determined. As long as you want it, there are ways to achieve it – definitely not overnight remedies, but you have to be prepared for that.
If I had any advice, it would be this. To the capable (which is any of you reading this) - never give up. You may have had rejections, I had 3. I got into medical school on my 4th application, and I am still here, passing exams and proving my suitability as a future doctor. To the school leavers-to-be – take your studies seriously. Don’t be like me, thinking your brightness will be enough to carry you through! Always take breaks, but also know when to say no. Focus on revision, your future self will thank you for it. To the mature students – it’s never too late! It doesn’t matter how long it takes or how you get there, as long as you do. I’ll be 30 when I graduate, and I know people who were 30+ when they started! If one day you’ll be 45 anyway, why not be 45 and a doctor? And to the parents, it won’t be easy, but in some ways it will be. Why? Because you have the strongest source of motivation than anyone else – your babies. Make the most of family, friends and childcare to support you, use bedtime as study time and know every step of the way is for them.
There you have it, probably one of, if not the most unconventional routes to Medicine. And although in hindsight I could say I could have done things differently, truth is, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way!