November 23, 2016, by studentcontributor

Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM)

What: It’s a shortened four-year medicine course for graduates. It gives people from different ages and backgrounds another route to come into medicine


  • Shorter course!
  • Allows a different route into medicine to people who might not have been able to access it at 18
  • More independent learning
  • NHS funding from years 2-4 to help with living costs + fees
  • Added maturity and ‘life skills’ makes clinical side easier
  • Coming to medicine with a broader perspective; people like nice round doctors


  • Challenge of leaving stable career for some
  • Balancing other life commitments like family
  • Adapting to studies again can be hard (but good support available)
  • Intense course, particularly first couple of years
  • Higher competition for places than other medicine courses
  • Longer term funding of GEM courses uncertain

A personal perspective…

I decided to do medicine towards the end of my first degree. In my year between degrees I volunteered in a hospice in between working, and managed to find some clinical work experience through hospital HR departments (who normally have people who can organise work experience). Lots of people find work as a healthcare assistant, which I struggled to do – other volunteering, like hospital or nursing home volunteering, can also be useful.

Lots of courses emphasise work experience, and as many people come from healthcare backgrounds it’s a difficult area to stand out – whatever experience you have, make sure you have a good idea of how it’s informed your choice, as well as how it will help your medical career.

There’s also plenty you can say about non-clinical experience, particularly if your job’s involved working under pressure, leading a team etc.

Tips for applying to GEM

  • There’re varied entry requirements for degrees and classification (some sciences only, some all degrees), aptitude tests (GAMSAT, UKCAT, BMAT), A level subjects and grades, so pick the ones that match you best
  • Plan well in advance, as it’s best to have all your experience before applying
  • Be clear on how your experience has helped as it counts for a lot

Aptitude Tests

GAMSAT: This is a 6-hour graduate specific test split into sciences, humanities, and an essay section. At £237.50, it’s a seriously expensive exam, but is valid for two years. The sciences section counts for most, and is aimed at around A level standard and I found going over my A level revision books was fine, but practice papers and GAMSAT books are available too. Depending on your background, you might find the essay section harder, so some timed practice is a good idea.

UKCAT: Widely used and a lot cheaper! Some GEM courses from science and non-science backgrounds accept it.


Contributor: Peter Hateley, Graduate Entry Medicine student. 

Posted in Medicine