Updated: May 21, 2020
By Hatem Jouda
Studying medicine as a graduate is a decision that must not be taken lightly. To put it simply, you will have to make sacrifices. For some these sacrifices may lead them astray, but to others they are mere obstacles that can be overcome. In this article, I will be explaining the factors that must be taken into account before embarking on a medical degree as a graduate.
Step 1 – Reflect: medicine is not a short road. You will see your old university friends climb their career ladders, start families, being free from exams, travelling etc. This can be emotionally tough and can make you feel like you’re being left behind. This is the first obstacle, finding out what means the most to you in the long term. You may also encounter individuals who will discourage you from pursuing medicine. Just remember this is YOUR decision, and you must live your own life. My advice is to reach out to other graduate medics. You can easily find Facebook groups – don’t be shy! Not only could they give you inspiration, but they could offer great advice.
Step 2 – Do the maths. Studying medicine as a second degree isn’t cheap, and for some, it is sadly unaffordable without financial backing of family members, or years of saving from working. Although there is a tuition-funded graduate entry programme, this has ridiculous competition ratios and can be hard to get on. Hence, many graduates would have to turn to studying the standard 5-year programme. Funding is limited for this route: there is no tuition fee loan, but there is a means-tested maintenance loan, and access to university bursaries (which vary). Unfortunately, loans are often not enough, so here are some ways to reduce the financial burden.
Be patient: it may take numerous applications to get onto a graduate entry programme, or into a local university to avoid the burden of rent.
Work hard: you may need a part time job, or side hustle. Summer and winter holidays are crucial times and must not be wasted.
Save hard: saying no to holidays can be hard, but if you didn’t factor them into your financial plan, then they need to be cut out.
Unless you have a full-proof financial plan, you are not ready to make the commitment.
Step 3 – overcoming stigma. You might feel out of place being a graduate among school leavers and may naturally gravitate towards those of similar ages. My advice is to be open-minded. Age is just a number, and so you should respect all of your peers equally – they are just as worthy of their place at medical school as you! Also remember these will be your future colleagues, so I would urge any graduate to not alienate themselves and to enjoy being a student again! As the saying goes: treat others how you would like to be treated.
Step 4 – enjoy it! If you’ve found a way to finance the course, and motivated enough to undertake 5 more years of study, then I urge you to make the most of it! Make new friends, experience new things, make new memories! Medicine is a long road and you need to keep your spirits high to thrive!
In a nutshell, graduates who go into medicine have put their career first and have a long-term vision. The retirement age in the UK is 68 and rising. I knew that I would spend the majority of my life in the workplace, so I needed to be in the right one for me. If financial gain is what you’re looking for, then you probably won’t be able to cope with the sacrifices you’ll make for the foreseeable future. But if you can’t see yourself doing anything else, and you’re up for the challenge, then go for it! It flies by and before you know it, you will have achieved your ultimate goal of becoming a doctor!