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If you are in a situation where you have received rejections from all the medical schools you applied to, don’t assume that it’s necessarily all over. This is not an uncommon situation, simply because it is very competitive to get into medical school.

If you have received rejections, then the key thing to consider is what do you want to do next? It’s worth re-evaluating whether you are still determined to pursue a career in medicine, or are content with a different career path. One option many people consider is re-applying to medicine the following year. As a 2nd or 3rd time applicant you will tend to have collected more experience and hopefully will be more informed and better prepared for the interview and the UCAT.

Taking a gap year can be a valuable opportunity to gain work experience as well as life experience. Many will be able to find some type of medium/long-term work in a hospital or a GP surgery. Getting a paid job will also give you the chance to start saving money for university later. It may be worth considering some volunteering work at hospices or organisations such as the British Red Cross or St John’s Ambulance, alongside your main employment.

If however, you decide that a gap year isn’t an ideal option for you, it is worth pursuing an alternative, but related degree using your 5th choice on UCAS application. Subjects such as anatomy, physiology and biomedical sciences are always popular, and easier than Medicine to get in to, but it’s important that you choose something you are genuinely interested in. This way you can apply for graduate entry medicine, something that is becoming increasingly popular. In the UK, there are 16 programmes that are open solely to graduates; these courses tend to be shorter (4 years long), therefore more intense. To be able to apply, you need to have at least a 2:1 in your first degree; some programmes will also look at your school grades, to make sure you are academically able to cope with the course.

Alternatively, you can apply to a traditional 5 year programme as a graduate, which is obviously a longer and more expensive route, but does have the advantage of being slightly less intense; this also offers longer holidays, hence more opportunity for paid work. More graduates apply for entry into medicine each year in the UK, so it is important to research the topic thoroughly and ensure the courses you choose are a good fit.

It is important to note that both options (the gap year or undertaking a different degree) offer you a chance to re-evaluate whether you definitely want to study medicine – it is much better to realise this now, rather than when you are halfway through the course, or even later!

This link is to an article in The Telegraph, written by an applicant (now a medical student), on his experience of applying and his helpful tips on how to improve the chances of getting admitted on second attempt.

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Study Medicine: Applying for Medical School and Becoming a Medical Student

The University of Glasgow