August 10, 2015, by studentcontributor
Graduate Entry Medicine (Part 1)
Suravi Chatterjee-Woolman spent a big chunk of her career in corporate bioscience, and then decided to re-train as a doctor. She is now in her penultimate year of The University of Nottingham’s Graduate Entry Medicine course. Her interests & pursuits can fill up far too many pages to be useful! She, however loves to tweet as @a101hacks where you can ask her anything about Graduate Entry Medicine life.
Lights in the auditorium dimmed, and words of the legendary doctor William Osler appeared on the screen-
“Happiness lies in the absorption in some vocation which satisfies the soul.”
We had gathered for an Offers Open Day for Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM). It was hard work getting to that day and I wanted to pass on tips that had helped me. There is a lot to consider before you make a decision; hence this post is in two tantalising parts!
So if you are considering GEM, as a lifelong dream or a recent passion like mine, I hope you find these useful.
There’s a great variation in admission process, style of teaching, assessment, and what they look for in applicants. There are courses where you don’t need any science degree at all! Since some courses might suit you better than others, it is worth spending time researching this. I found Medicine-specific open days a reliable source of information. They are also useful for understanding the kind of support, & financial assistance available.
I cannot stress its importance both to your decision making process, and the application. Each Medical School has its preference, which they explain during their Open Days. However I found it’s best to go for quality over quantity, and then ask what I have learnt from it. Do I have a realistic idea about the career I am venturing into, can I sustain myself through it, and what have I learnt about myself? Work experience comes in many flavours and is time consuming- you can use your current volunteering commitments (I was an active St. John Ambulance first aider, and spent some Sunday afternoons helping out at a Community Hospital) if they help you answer these questions. But if you are starting from scratch, well, annual leave and weekends it is!
The #1 worry when folks ask for tips: if they can have a life and commit to medical training. It has not been a problem as long as I work smart, and be deliberate about a work-life balance. I learnt a lot from books like I Know How She Does It, and Work Less Achieve More. They are full of data-driven strategies that can be applied to GEM life. Medical School interviews often want to ensure you can balance your life because Medicine, like any other profession can consume your life. Yet it is your life outside Medicine that will create the well-rounded doctor we all want treating us!
GEM students, and doctors love to share their experiences with someone considering Medicine as a career. Chat with as many of them as you can. I did not know many doctors personally so I used opportunities while volunteering, and on Twitter (special mention to Jon Hilton, Clare Gerada, and Ron Daniels) to ask lots of questions. I had also discussed this with a mentor in my previous career- retraining is a drastic step after all.
Speak to doctors who are particularly stressed out as it will offer an inkling about issues that you might struggle with. Blogs are an excellent source of information (special mention to Suzy Stethoscope, HannahPopsy, and Lauren Clarke). And where would we be without books by doctors?!
Next week I will share my top tips for finance, reference, the dreaded personal statement, exams, interviews, and perhaps the most important consideration of all! Bet you can’t wait, eh?