Graduate Application- The Journey not the Destination
May 2018- I got into medical school
I did it… I got in! My ultimate goal has been achieved. After all the celebrations have ended I somehow feel slightly empty. The main dominating factor of my whole life since my first application in 2012 has suddenly disappeared, leaving space, it’s uncomfortable yes, but warmly welcomed. In some ways I feel like I’ve come to the end of my journey, but really it is only just beginning of a much more exciting one, with greater and more impressive goals to be achieved.. I hope. Perhaps that was a little bit deep but this is my first blog post after all!
When I failed to get any interviews or achieve the grades required to get into medical school at age 18 I had two options, give up or WORK HARDER. I had all the necessary extra curriculars. My boyfriend ‘J’ (for the purposes of this blog) was in the year above me at school. We were inseparable and focussed all of our energies into studying and medical school aspirations. We travelled to India and Thailand volunteering in hospitals, I had spent days shadowing in GP surgeries, nursing homes charity events.... You name it we did it! After one failed attempt J got in and we were of course both elated, he was off! But what was I going to do…?
I wasn’t going to be left behind so I decided the only option was to move to London with J for him to start medical school that September. The day after my final International Baccalaurate exam I interviewed for a full time position at a private special needs school where I worked as a teaching assistant for children with learning difficulties. I also got a place on UCAS Extra for a deferred place at a uni I could commute to in SW London. I went on to do my Biology degree for 3 years. I started off there feeling pretty down and wished I was still assisting at the school.
I never wanted to be a scientist, but I slowly began to come around to the idea. It taught me so much and was a brilliant experience which now I would not give up, even if it meant I could have gone to med school at 18. It gave me such a valuable insight into science, research and myself and I met some great people and lecturers.
In my final year at uni, despite consistently high grades and all the necessary qualifications I had another failed application. The process of applying is a complete minefield, as I am sure some of you are aware! I had entrance exams coming out my arse,I was calling universities daily trying to ascertain if I actually did meet their entry requirements or if my application was going to be wasted and I was also trying to get my first class degree, submit my dissertation and keep up all my various other work commitments. When the rejections came through thick and fast, safe to say, I was deflated.
I picked myself up and decided quickly, through the tears, that I would apply again…obviously. For some reason I felt it sensible and good ‘grown-up-ing’ to have a fall back career. I lasted 6 weeks as a trainee secondary science teacher. I mean, I have so much respect for anyone that teaches, it is a fantastic profession but I figured out fast it was not the career for me. I took the leap, handed in my notice and the next morning came flying back down the M4 to my parents.
Back to square one? Well maybe but I still had a med school application I was waiting to hear back from. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, now so I had to just wait.
Since then I have been working in a dusty warehouse packing boxes and sticking labels in a warehouse at the logistics company my dad and my brother run. It’s not been glamorous to say the least but it has paid the bills and meant I could focus on my medical school interviews which were finally successful! I have also been working with a brilliant, uplifting group of people I am now proud to call my friends. I had two interviews and I achieved an offer from both…unbelievable! When the news came through on UCAS track I was out of control with excitement and relief. Exactly 5 years to the day that we moved to London I will be starting graduate medicine at my dream university.
Being separated from J, my constant companion throughout this whole crazy process was a little hard to get used to as we had not spent anytime apart since we were at school. The flip side of this is that being apart for a while made me more certain than ever that this was my own crazy aspiration, rather than a path I was blindly following. This believe it or not is something that people often assumed and on occasions almost made me believe myself.
Some of you reading this might be going through the application process, or trying to achieve any other aspiration and feeling deflated. I hope you can see that although there might be up and downs along the way, if you want it enough then you can get there. All the hoops you have to jump through can be positives, so embrace the journey and you might find a better (but not necessarily shorter) route to the destination.