If you graduated with a 2.2, your options for getting into medical school are more limited. However, it is possible to become a doctor with a 2.2. If you’re looking for inspiration, read the account below from one graduate student who successfully gained a place at medical school…

Entry to medicine with a 2.2 + an access course (2008)

“Always knew I wanted to be a doctor, and was pretty strong in the sciences at GCSE, so I decided on studying Biology, Chemistry and Physics at A Level. During this time we had the opportunity to visit our local hospital for a talk on careers within the NHS, which was a great place to talk to nurses, speech therapists etc but it was whilst I was talking to the jnr doctors that I was truly inspired and decided that I would definitely go for it. However, I was brought back down to Earth with a bump when talking to my teachers who said that my GCSE results (2A*s, 3As and 4 Bs) and my predicted A Level results would not be good enough for medical school.So, I decided to go to university with my 3Bs at Alevel and study Biochemistry with the option of going to med school as a graduate (which was what one of the docs I spoke to at the careers fair had done cos, like me, his A Levels weren’t up to scratch.

So, off I go to uni with the aim of getting a first/2:1 and gaining a place at med school as a graduate. However, I got another set back in the form of the 2:2 I received. I had a great time at uni, but I was uninspired a little cos I knew I didn’t want to do anything but medicine and so my results suffered as a result.But I never gave up hope! I got a job as a lowly health care assistant in my local hospital to gain experience within the healthcare field to see if it was indeed for me. So, whilst my fellow graduates were in quite well paid jobs, I was feeding and dressing old people for minimum wage! It was great experience however, and definitely decided it for me that I wanted to be a doctor and not a nurse/SALT/physio etc as I got to work with different members of the healthcare team on a daily basis and grilled them at every opportunity about what they did. I left after 7 months, having gained all the experience I needed to work in a neurophysiology (EEG) lab, basically testing people for brain disorders such as epilpesy, Alzheimers, MS etc. This, again was great experience, and during this time I decided to sit the GAMSAT and apply to the 4 yr graduate courses at St Georges, Swansea, Nottingham and the 5 yr course at Peninsula. The exam was very tough, and I only managed to get one mark below the cut-off for all unis. However, I still managed to get an interview at Peninsula. I was a bit naive as to the interview process and foolsihly thought I was prepared enough, but found the whole thing too steep a learning curve and failed the interview. Was gutted! But I learnt from it. Sat the GAMSAT again the following year (shelling out another ?250 for the pleasure), but still only managed one mark below the pass rate.

So I needed another way in!At this point, after 2 1/2 yrs in the EEG lab I left do a brilliant job opening up within A&E as a doctors assistant. Was everything that I dreamt it could be. I was doing things that the jnr doctors of the past were doing, blood tests, writing up notes etc, I was even a part of the cardiac arrest team. I stayed in this role for a year, and during this time I spoke to a medical student who had gone through the Access course route. I was aware of this, but thought that this was not an option for me cos I was a science graduate, but she said that there were people in a similar situation to myself on her course and that I should give it a go. So I did, and went to City College, Norwich and had a great time. This time when interviews came up I was prepared as to the interview process and knew how to relay my experience as a positive thing despite my (some other students might say) poorer academic record.

I applied to Kings, BSMS, UEA and Durham. Managed to get 4 interviews and 3 offers (UEA didn’t want me – their loss I suppose!!!). Chose Kings, passed my exams, and am now half way through my first year. It’s a bit daunting being 26 whilst the majority of my fellow students are 18 year olds, but I look on this positively as I have a lot of NHS experience (5 years in total) and so when meeting patients and going to GPs/wards for the first time, I was a lot more prepared. So the best advice that I can offer is to get a lot of experience dealing with the public, especially within a medical setting if possible, being prepared to explain what you learnt from it. And don’t give up! If I can make to medical school, anyone can! I still pinch myself sometimes!!”

 

Success with a 2.2 in optometry

Like many others I always thought I would quite like to be a doctor. Although I was discouraged from this at school, i was advised that i would never get in! I studied Psychology, Biology and Chemistry at A level and got A, B, C respectively. And headed off to UMIST to study optometry which I thoroughly enjoyed. I knew that i could go back to university to study medicine after my first degree but would need a 2i to do so.

So i started my degree with the best intentions to work hard and get that 2i. However, during my final year i became ill and was in hospital up until a few days before my finals. Because of this i ended up graduating with a 2ii but to honest at this point i was just glad to be graduating at all.

As i started my pre-registration year which all optometrists have to complete to become fully qualified, i put medicine to the back of my mind assuming that it was out of reach.

It was during this year that i spent one day each week working in a hospital. I mentioned to one of the ophthalmologists that i had thought about going back to do medicine and he encouraged me to investigate it further.

I started researching medicine as a graduate and realised that with a 2ii medicine was going to be difficult but not impossible. My only realistic chance was to sit the GAMSAT exams and to apply to Nottingham, St Georges and Peninsular. I also emailed universities to ask if they would accept a 2ii with extenuating circumstances.

Most of the responses (from those that did reply) were negative saying that they only took 2i’s or 1sts or that i needed AAB in my A levels. However a few universities did give me a glimmer of hope including Manchester, Leeds and Keele as long as i could provide evidence from my GP and my previous university.

I completed my professional exams and took a job as a optometrist up north. I knew that i had a contract of 18 months so it would at least a year before i could apply to medicine.

Luckily this also gave me that chance to have take the GAMSAT exam twice. Naively i did little revision for my first attempt as i saw it as a practice and even though i passed each section individually my score was no where near the cut off the universities use. This failure made me realise i really had to work hard to pass the exam and i sat about revising immediately all the science and practice papers i could get my hands on ready for when the next date came around.

I also arranged a volunteer placement in a mental health day centre so that i would have a long term placement (in addition to my work as an optometrist) to go on my application. I also sat the UKCAT and was pleased to score an average of nearly 700.
I intended to apply to Nottingham, St Georges, Leeds and Manchester, however a few days before sending off my application i noticed on Newcastle’s entry criteria they accepted health care professional. I had missed out Newcastle when researching university because i thought that they were extremely competitive to get into and they mainly accepted 1sts. I sent them an emergency email and the admissions secretary said that i would be eligible because i am a health care professional and that they wouldn’t even look at my degree result! I quickly swapped Manchester for Newcastle and waited!

During this time i received my Gamsat results from my second attempt and even though i scored highly, i missed section 2 by one mark meaning that i would automatically fail! I was gutted as this meant Nottingham and St Georges were to automatically reject me. Leeds also rejected my application without interview but Newcastle sent me an interview date! I couldn’t believe it and in January had a very scary and intimidating interview but the worst thing was that i wouldn’t hear until March.

While i was waiting i decided to apply to access to medicine courses as a back up and was offered a place at COWA. This was some relief because as much as i didn’t was to go to Norwich i know it would aid me to fulfil my dream.
However that place wasn’t required, just after Easter i was offered a place on Newcastle’s graduate course to start this year! (2008) It still hasn’t sunken in but i have handed my notice in at work and applied for my student loan.

Even though i know i have been very lucky my experience proves that it is possible to get into medicine with a 2ii. My advice to anyone reading this would be to do your research and read the small print of the university’s admissions policies as they don’t tend to advertise if they will accept 2ii’s with a professional qualification or extenuating circumstances. Also if you are planning to sit the GAMSAT do as much revision as you can of both the science and the English parts of the exam and do as many practice papers possible.

Finally take a chance and never give up. It takes a lot of people 2 or even 3 attempts to get into medicine but if you really want it you’ll get there in the end.

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