Help! I want to become a doctor but I don’t have science A-levels

January 6, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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If you’re interested in becoming a doctor, but you’ve already completed your A levels or equivalent, and don’t have the relevant science subjects, don’t give up at the first hurdle. There are plenty of opportunities still open to you – check out the following suggestions for some inspiration!

A student taking a patient's blood pressure in a Tanzanian hospital. Medical foundation year

If you did well academically, but didn’t take science subjects, you may still be in with a chance of applying to medical school. However, you’ll need to look carefully at where you apply, as you’d be required to do a one-year foundation year (often known as year 0). Not all medical schools offer this though – only a select few universities have a foundation year option. Manchester, Keele and Sheffield are some of the universities that offer this option. On successful completion of your foundation year, you are automatically granted a place on year 1 of the medical degree course at your university.

Medicine Access course

If you’re not successful in getting a coveted place on a foundation year at a medical school, you might wish to consider doing a one-year access to higher education course at college. Some offer specific courses in medicine and biomedical science, whereas others offer more general courses in science. A good science or medical foundation course should stand you in good stead when applying to university.

Re-sitting A-levels

Another popular option for students who decide to study medicine after they’ve completed their A levels the first time round, is to take them again, choosing more relevant science subjects. While this option might seem off-putting at first, especially if you’ve just finished your first set of A-levels, it can be a good idea for a number of reasons. Firstly, finding an educational institution that offers science A levels is easy, there are providers all over the country, and even online! Finding foundation courses that are relevant to your interests can be trickier. A-levels are also a good idea because they are very well respected and well known by universities.

Before you begin…

Remember, making sure that medicine is the right career for you before enrolling yourself for years of study is a wise idea. Get some experience of shadowing doctors in several settings, such as in clinics, on wards, and in surgery. Ask yourself is this is something you could see yourself doing in the future. Can you cope with the long hours, emotional cases and frequent gory situations? If the answer is yes, then a career in medicine is for you. If you’re not sure, make sure you get plenty of exposure to real life medical situations to help you make up your mind. If you decide that being a doctor is not for you, don’t panic – there are plenty of other opportunities out there for you! If you still want to work in a related field, you could consider a degree in biomedical science. This will allow you to study concepts related to medicine, without being directly responsible for patients. You could pursue a career in medical research, forensic profiling or health protection.