While it’s clear that parents usually want the best for their children, medical school really isn’t for everyone even if your parents think you should apply.
Let’s be honest, thousands of people choose to apply for medicine every year but the vast majority of applicants will fail to even secure an interview let alone get a place!
It’s always good to keep a positive outlook on things but sometimes certain courses aren’t even worth you applying to, despite how highly regarded they are in society.
Let’s see why you shouldn’t even bother applying for medicine this year!
Entry Requirements Are Always High
To even be considered for medical school, every single applicant must first achieve the minimum entry requirements for whatever institution they’re applying for.
This in itself can already be a challenge since medical schools usually set their minimum requirements quite high to reflect the surplus in applications.
Simply put, medical schools get to cherry pick applicants because too many quality students apply in the first place.
Amazing medical school candidates miss out on their dream schools only because they missed a grade or 2 when applying.
In many ways, the minimum entry requirements are a good way to see whether you will even get past the first stage of student selection.
Rest assured there will be students with perfect grades who you will be in direct competition with.
Some ‘perfect’ candidates won’t even secure a place! Ask yourself, why do you in particular stand out?
You SHOULD however do your research!
If you can’t apply on the merits of your grades, you might be able to apply on the merits of wider participation.
Minimum entry requirements are often reduced for candidates from certain geographical locations or from disadvantaged backgrounds i.e. receiving free school meals.
So if you really want to still apply without the grades, you can do so under widening participation. You may also consider getting a degree first, then applying to medicine. You can read why I don’t recommend that either!
The bottom line is that there are many other degrees with amazing prospects that don’t have such a high barrier to entry, and an inversely low job satisfaction once you finish. Yes, that’s right, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, job satisfaction and overall happiness!
Doctors aren’t as Happy as They Seem
In most modern societies, doctors are revered as trustworthy and integral contributors to health and wellbeing of individuals. This is the same sentiment that organisations such as the NHS use to assure patients that they are always recieving the best care.
But what care are doctors themselves recieving?
There is another sentiment that is quickly gaining popularity, and may yet hold some truth; This is the idea that doctors aren’t actually all that happy with their role and their working conditions.
The 2016 and the 2016 strikes held by junior doctors of the NHS echoed this sentiment. Contractual changes to their working agreements meant that more doctors would find themselves working unsociable hours without getting compensated with extra pay as per the old contract.
While the issue seemed to have been resolved, are doctors still happy?
This is a large question to tackle, and ought to be outlined in its own page, however the bottom line is there are people on either side of the fence. Most doctors will probably tell you how rewarding it is to treat patients back to health.
A growing number of physicians however might steer prospective medical students away from the profession due to concerns about job pressures, working hours, work-life balance and the fear of being stuck in a life-long prefession you dislike.
We will be exploring this topic in future posts!
Competition is Very Stiff
Steering away from the heavy topic of job satisfaction, let’s get back to the difficulties of even gaining entry to medical school.
You must demonstrate your suitability and passion for medicine in ways other than pure academic performance.
You can usually stand out by proving participation in extra-curricular activities like music, dancing, football club and debating.
The point of adding these activities to your application is to show the admissions officers how balanced of a candidate you are, and that you are able to handle commitments and long-term responsibilities.
Also, a big part of having a competitive application is having relevant experience.
Far too many students will be applying with amazing shadowing experiences and hands-on experience in clinical and care settings so unless you have an even better CV, you better not get your hopes up too much when you apply.
Again, many industries don’t require you to jump through all these hoops just so you can BEGIN learning medicine. The only reason why medicine CAN require all these outrageous asks for your application is that so many people apply, they get to raise the bar of entry.
Don’t succumb to the negative thinking pattern that medicine is HARD which is why they have all these crazy requirements. It’s not, so don’t let that stop you from applying. If you can get all the requirements, by all means do it!
But if you have other passions and medicine is something that someone else is telling you to do, i’d listen to your own gut feeling and abandon all this stiff competition business!
Places Are Limited
The biggest problem with medicine applications and why everything is so competitive, is that the number of places available are always little.
Medical schools places have always been limited. Every few years, the government releases funding to try and increase places available to study medicine. This is in an attempt to combat growing shortage of physicians.
Unfortunately places are still incredibly limited, and if you are applying as an undergraduate, you are likely to be going against 9 other students for the same spot. If you are applying as a graduate, you are likely to be competing with up to 99 other people for the same spot!
The recent grading crisis for school leaver meant that almost an extra 2000 people were admitted to medical schools during the 2020/2021 application cycle!
This lifting of the medical school cap may have lasting effects on size of future cohorts and the availability of training positions in later years.
As it stands now, medical school places are very limited and if you do manage to get an interview, count yourself incredibly lucky as the majority of students wouldn’t have had the same luxury as you!
Interviews are Rigorous
While getting an interview means that you are one step closer to getting into medical school, it is by no means a downhill journey from there onwards!
Medical interviews are a stressful, arduous process, necessary for candidate selection. of the It can often ruin your chances of securing a medical place!
Depending on the university you are applying to, you will have to specifically prepare for their interview style and keep your mind sharp for any curve-balls.
You have to be well read on current topics. This may include having insights into various problems around healthcare systems and how one may go about solving them!
Interviews, while not designed to trip you up, can do so in spectacular fashion if your motivations aren’t there, or your knowledge is weak in a number of different aspects.
Candidates are all advised to be relaxed, honest, and truthful when responding to questions. The truth is, if you haven’t stood out at prior stages of selection (academics, work experience and entry exams), a decent interview is likely to change the outcome of your decision.
Your entire application should be impressive though. Atleast If you’re going to be confident about securing a place at medical school.
Funding is Limited
Whether you are a school-leaver or graduate, all medical students must think carefully about how they will fund their degree.
Luckily, as a school-leaver, you are usually entitled to a student loan that pays off your tuition fees in full, as well as a maintenance loan to contribute to living costs.
Even with all this funding, students can still find studying medicine for 5 years financially taxing!
Living costs might not be totally covered by the maintenance loan, meaning you will have to supplement your student income either by working part-timr, or by asking for additional funding from parents etc.
The situation is even worse if you are a graduate who already received undergraduate funding. You aren’t entitled to regular student finance and will usually have a much greater loan to pay off once you finish due to compound interest.
Actually, as a graduate studying medicine, if you choose to collect more student finance funding, you may never actually pay off your loan due to how big it is and how much interest it collects every year.
If you apply to graduate entry medicine, you are usually entitled a tuition fee loan at a reduced amount for the first year, with subsequent years being fully funded. You will also be able to apply for a maintenance loan.
If you apply for the regular undergraduate course as a graduate, you won’t be eligible for the tuition fee loan and will need to pay right out of pocket!
Think carefully before applying to medicine as a graduate. Consider other courses available to you!
Medicine is an incredibly rewarding life path that can lead to a long and fulfilling career as a doctor or another healthcare specialist.
It is also very taxing and shouldn’t be chosen lightly. Whether you want to study medicine for the right or wrong reasons, the majority of candidates who apply won’t end up getting a place.
You are better off spending your time looking for other pathways that better suit your career needs instead of hoping you will magically be accepted onto a medical program.
Of course you are free to try your luck, you may be surprised with the outcome!