Picking up from where I left off; I was in Pakistan, had just finished my incredible internship at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, and it was my 17th birthday. Incidentally, my birthday fell on the same day as AS results day…
Remember in one of my first posts when I was talking about how I became complacent? Well, my AS results reflected exactly that. WORST BIRTHDAY EVER. I spent the day crying my eyes out and refused to speak to anyone. I mean, the results weren’t terrible, but they definitely were NOT the set of grades I was expecting to achieve and I was absolutely gutted.
After the initial self-loathing and disappointment had settled, I tried to enjoy my last few days with my grandparents in Pakistan before flying back home to London. I knew in my heart that I still wanted to pursue Medicine, and after chatting with my teachers and parents, I carried on with the next stage of the application process – deciding which universities to apply to. This came hand in hand with factors 3 and 4 (check my earlier posts for 1 and 2): becoming closed minded and taking on too much.
Looking back on my 17 year old self, I realise that I became so unhealthily obsessed with reaching my goal that I took on far too much at once. As well as trying to up my grades drastically, I also took on the UKCAT and the BMAT – whilst also managing my senior roles in Sixth Form. I went against the advice of my parents when deciding which universities to apply to, and became totally closed minded to anything anyone had to say to me unless it was in agreement with my own thoughts and choices. I ended up applying to 4 universities that were unrealistic avenues considering my grades at the time, and because I had decided to so, I was burdened by two huge medical entrance exams on top of my A levels – NIGHTMARE!
Although the grades were entirely down to me, I have to say that I do feel I could have been supported more during this time – and by that I mean just having people to speak to who had been through the process. If there is one piece of advice I can give you from this post: before starting the Medical School application processes, talk to as many people as you can and educate yourself on the realistic expectations of each university. It sounds like really obvious advice, but I genuinely feel that had I had more people to speak to regarding the process (factor 5), maybe things would have turned out differently. Second time around, talking to family members, current medical students, my university staff, hospital staff and even networking on the Student Room revealed extra information that I wouldn’t necessarily have had access to otherwise.
In terms of the entrance examinations, in my opinion I think it’s best to focus on just one if you’re in the middle of your A-Levels, but that’s only from my own experience – I simply couldn’t juggle everything at the time and had I simply focused on just the UKCAT or just the BMAT, I probably would have scored much higher in them than scoring average in both.
I know it can sometimes feel like you’re in this process alone and no one feels the stress you do, but that is not the case – we are so fortunate to live in a time where a person is just an email away, and networking is absolutely KEY to enhance your applications! So please please please do drop me an email if you have any concerns, or even if you just need someone to rant to – maybe I’ll even rant back XD
“A simple hello can lead to a million things”