The expectations I set for last summer were so high that I had been disappointed for ending up without a single interview.
By the looks of how the academic year went, I was hopeful of at least being shortlisted for an interview and landing a medical school place for 2012 entry was obviously top of my agenda. But it turned out contrary to what I had expected would happen and was left frustrated like many in the same boat. I didn’t want to be irrational by forgetting the fact that there are more qualified applicants than places available. Hence, I rather opted to confront the challenge ahead by looking at the incident from two angles, either getting fixated on my rejections and fail to mature as a competitive applicant, or scrutinise my application and find areas where I can improve on, such as my personal statement, and gain further insight into what medicine entails through hands-on experience.
The fact that the big ‘30’ is encroaching made me fear the worst – failing to meet my career aspiration. It is a common knowledge that admission tutors will take into consideration applicants’ ages for the simple reason that medicine has one of the longest training periods to qualify. It is down to the medical schools’ admission system to pick up students that are worth spending the £250,000 (amount of money required to educate a single medical student) public fund and those who will comply with the General Medical Council’s (GMC) guidelines for Tomorrow’s Doctors. Subtly discriminating those who would not potentially serve the public for long years to come is so often what we as mature students fear most to no avail.
As the saying goes, “the grass is greener on the other side of the mountain,” and being a mature student also has its own merits in bringing up unique set of skills and experiences, both to the student environment and to the workplace, which are normally absent in school-leavers. After all I have felt like rejection was the right medicine for the grand reason that it made me look into my deficits in-depth and weigh my options realistically. Being introspective on the subject matter has helped me to be non-complacent on academic success only.
A potential doctor needs to have a well-rounded personality and a decent hands-on work experience, which proves the candidate’s suitability to the profession and convince potential suitors. Towards the end of spring I was busy job hunting for a care-related position, preferably in the NHS. I managed to get two interviews: the first failed for no fault of my own but for unprecedented reasons related to the ongoing reforms in the NHS, whereas the second interview at an NHS Foundation Trust was destined for me. After waiting for couple of months for the pre-employment checks to be completed, I have started working as a Clinical Support Worker at the highly regarded Neurosciences Division, which is the major trauma centre in the North West, since last summer. I found the position physically and emotionally demanding that it has become both a humbling experience and an excellent stepping stone for a would be doctor, from the patient contact to team work to getting acquainted with the whole hospital environment. Most people assume medicine is a “posh” field by just looking at the glamour so often portrayed on the telly, but the reality is very far from it. Don’t get me wrong, it is a privilege to be in doctors’ position to listen to what is concerning patients and have the capacity to do something important in their life. But the ins and outs of medicine makes it one of the most stressful jobs that doesn’t favour the faint-hearted.
From the day I set my foot in, it has made me realise how we normally take every aspect of life for granted and how complex the nature of neurological conditions is, in particular with the elderly population. I have now started to feel like the summer ended on a high, working on a very rewarding and fulfilling position. It has equally instilled in me the belief that I currently have a more informed and deliberate plan on my chosen career choice, and the likelihood of getting into medical school seems more of a question of when rather than if.