Shadowing a DoctorAugust 16, 2012
For anybody wanting a career in medicine, A-level results day is only the first step. While for most people A-level results day is a time for celebration, for some people it can be a day of disappointment, especially for somebody who hasn’t achieved the required grades. While most medical schools require high grades at A-level, and the passing of specific subjects such as chemistry, all is not lost if you find yourself not having achieved what you had hoped.
Applying to medical school
Many people taking A-levels have already made the step of applying for medical schools before they have got their results. Usually, applying for medical school starts around the time a student gets their AS results, and places are offered provisionally and are dependent on the final A-level results.
However, if a student has not yet found a medical school or has not begun the application process, it is not too late to apply. Many medical schools actually favour students who already have their results confirmed, while others will have places available due to candidates that were offered places having failed to achieve the desired grades
Experience and entrance exams
While achieving the required A-level grades is important, most medical schools require more than just academic results. Having some form of work experience in a medical setting is crucial for most medical schools, as this shows commitment to the profession. Furthermore, some medical schools require candidates to pass either the UKCAT (United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test) or the BMAT (Bio-medical Admissions Test).
All medical schools will want to see candidates in a face-to-face interview too, in order to ascertain if a student has the right desire, attitude and dedication to become a doctor; no medical school wants to see students fail, or not complete the course as doctor training involves a huge investment in time and money.
Most medical schools require certain grades and the passing of specific subjects at A-level, such as chemistry and biology. However, failing to achieve the necessary grades or not having the exact subject requirements doesn’t automatically mean that medical school is no longer an option. Some schools offer a foundation year for students in just such circumstances. This means instead of the required five years of study to get a medical degree, students do six years.
Getting on a foundation course still requires the same commitment, though, and students need to demonstrate dedication to the profession and a student is only likely to acquire a place if they have conducted some form of medical work experience.
For people who have already left school, and perhaps do not have the required A-levels for medical school, getting a place is still possible. Medicine is not a career where age is any limitation and mature students are welcomed at all medical schools. These students are not expected to go back to college and take A-levels; specialist Access courses in medicine provide a more efficient route for gaining entry and are more accessible to the majority of mature students.