Shadowing a Doctor

May 11, 2016

Gap Medics student cliff diving

In this month’s Medic Portal blog post, Kay describes how it felt to get four medical school rejections – and what she did about them.

Receiving that first pre-interview rejection can be heart-breaking, but having four rejections is soul destroying. All that runs through your mind is: “I’m never going to be a doctor” or “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life”!

Seriously, relax! It’s not the end of Medicine – it’s just the start of one of the best experiences of your life. It is inevitable that you will feel very unmotivated and upset for a period (to the point I refused to watch my favourite show, Grey’s Anatomy), but you have to – and will – get over it. Here’s how I turned four rejections into four offers in only one year.

Get feedback from the universities you applied to

After I had stopped feeling sorry for myself, I requested feedback from all of the Universities I applied to, post-rejection, so I could fully understand what my weaknesses were and what I could work on to make my next application worthy of a jaw-drop. My academic grades and extracurricular activities (volunteering, sporting activities, Duke of Edinburgh, etc.) ticked all the boxes, but my UKCAT score let me down first time round. Many people claim that it’s a test you can’t study for and it’s all down to your “natural ability”, but if you put in the time and effort to practice, you’ll be amazed at how much your aptitude skills can progress (especially after a year out).

Take a Medicine gap year and use it wisely

I was 100% certain that I wanted to take a gap year, rather than diving into a degree that I wasn’t fully committed to. Yes, graduate entry would be great considering that you’ll have another degree under your belt, and you’ll get to go straight to University, but if you really want to become a doctor, it’s worth the wait. You can also intercalate at most, if not all medical schools, meaning you’ll graduate with two degrees anyway and save yourself at least two years.

During my gap year, I worked for Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity in The Royal Hospital for Children. After applying for and completing a 3-month voluntary internship, I was lucky enough to be employed by this incredible charity. My work involved helping out with events within the hospital and occasionally working in their fundraising Hub.

Reflect on your experiences and new skills

Getting four rejections for medical school has certainly been one of the most beneficial experiences of my life. I’ve gained and developed so many skills (e.g. organisational, interpersonal, prioritising, etc.); I met and had an impact on a variety of amazing families; I became financially comfortable before going to University and, as clichéd as it sounds, I’ve become more independent and mature.

It is also great to understand the impact that charities can have on NHS hospitals (and something you can talk about at interview too). At my interviews, I was able to talk about medical equipment that the charity has purchased for the hospital – including one of the UK’s first 4D Cardiac Scanners – and the impact this has had on patients.

The world is your oyster

This is just one way to make your year out fantastically beneficial. There are endless opportunities when it comes to taking a gap year, and an insane amount of skills you can develop while doing so. The best part is that you are free to do whatever you want (within reason!) whether that’s working, volunteering, travelling, or all of the above.

But the most important things are that you gain something from it, you have fun, and can use these learning experiences to have a better second application.

For me, obtaining four interviews this time round was due to having a higher UKCAT score, but turning four rejections into four offers – a position I never thought I’d be in – was down to the fact that my gap year gave me so much to talk about, and the confidence and maturity that was needed to excel at interview.


Medic Portal UKCAT CTA