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Choosing what to study

What to do if you don’t get into medical school

Getting into medical school is very competitive. See what options there are if you didn't get a place but still want to pursue a career in medicine.

Stethoscope and medical books on a shelf

Decide what went wrong

Think about your interview. Did this let you down? Or was it the admissions test? Could you improve if you resit and/or reapply?

They might not give you an answer, but get in touch with the medical school that rejected your application to ask for feedback.

What's the medical school’s policy? Would they accept resit results with higher grades? If yes, could you realistically get those grades? Consider what you need to improve if you want to reapply next year.

Consider graduate entry

You can study for an undergraduate degree – in any subject, but a related one would be best – and then apply for graduate entry into a Medicine course. This gives you more freedom if you change your mind, and by gaining experience in a different discipline you’ll be able to bring a different approach to a graduate entry role.

There are different options for graduates, including five-year programmes and four-year accelerated Graduate Entry Programmes (GEPs). GEPs teach the same content as a standard programme but in a shorter amount of time, so are more intense.

Graduate entry to Medicine is often more competitive than standard undergraduate entry. Look at the entry requirements for these courses and see whether or not you could expect to meet them. You'll usually need a first or upper second-class honours degree. If you have a postgraduate degree this may not be as relevant.

Don’t forget to check that the courses you apply for will accept graduates and also what the application process or deadline is (it may not always be via UCAS), and whether you need to take certain admissions tests.

Consider other medical schools in the UK and overseas

Medical schools, including those in Ireland, the Czech Republic and St George’s University in Grenada, have slightly different application procedures and deadlines. These schools admit UK students who can normally work back in the UK after graduating – as always, check the currents status for professional accreditation.

The University of Buckingham in the UK has an independent MB ChB Medical School programme with a January intake, so the 15 October application deadline doesn't apply. This degree has clinical placements in UK hospitals and follows GMC (General Medical Council) regulations.

When you originally apply to university, be more flexible in your four UCAS choices and consider some of the options above as a fifth and/or sixth choice. Note that these programmes can be just as competitive as other UK medical schools, so don't see them as easy options. But they may have different timelines and more flexible deadlines, or be used to recruiting older students or those who were unsuccessful the first time around.

These schools may not need the BMAT or UCAT test to be completed as they have their own tried-and-tested selection procedures. Alternative medical schools may have different fee structures so you also need to check these before committing to an application and journey to the interview/MMI selection day.

Get even more experience

Again, practical experience is so important. Any extra experience you can gain will be invaluable and make you more attractive to student recruiters.

Above all  - consider alternative courses, professions and specialisms.

The NHS in the UK offers more roles besides becoming a doctor or nurse – there are so many rewarding and professionally-accredited roles across the healthcare setting, in addition to pursuing your interest in science and medical science via courses like Biomedical Science and Chemistry.

It’s important to be realistic – it’s often better to move on with your career and take your talents elsewhere via alternatives to a Medicine degree. 

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