Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Doing medicine as an oldie

For the first time, I have butterlies in my stomach today! I am excited about having the chance to go to do medicine. I have my fingers crossed that things will work out with my dad and am going to keep planning with a view to being able to take my place in September.

Money is a big factor - have been looking at a professional studies loan from the HSBC so that I can pay off my debts before starting. These loans allow you to defer payments until back in the world of work but the cost is massive. If you borrow the maximum of £25,000, the repayments work out around 400 per month for eight years. Scary!

I have had a few emails from people who have read my blog (It's a nice feeling to think that someone would want to plough through these posts) asking how an oldie gets into medicine. If any of you have been watching the recent ITV programme "Vital Signs", you will be under the assumption that one day you can wake up, decide to be a doctor, walk into the nearest medical school and ask for a place!

Hmmmmm.....today I am going to be a doctor!

If only this were the case.....getting into medicine as an oldie in a labour of love and much jumping through hoops is needed, although there certainly more opportunites than there were ten years ago. I qualified as a nurse in the mid nineties and went to Kings College to complete my nursing degree. One day, I knocked on the dean's door to speak to him about becoming a medical student. He laughed at me - no joke! His words were along the line that in his experience, nurses struggled to do medicine and so he would not be happy to consider me (He was eating an egg sandwich as he said this and at one point he spat some egg onto my sleeve)
I remember walking out feeling like shite on his shoe and pretty much come back to Wales with my tail between my legs.

Anyway, then it was unusual for schools to look at non-traditional students but now things have changed. There are opportunites for older students from non-traditional backgrounds, but the competition is fierce. I found out most of my information on two helpful internet forums:



There are two options for the oldie wanting to study medicine:
  • Applying to medical school for a traditional five year course (Will need A Levels or degree or access course)
  • Applying to one of the newer Graduate entry programmes (GEPs) A 2:1 degree is normally needed, unless it is one of the schools that use the dreaded GAMSAT test - you can apply for these schools with a 2:2. Georges and Notts use GAMSAT - not sure if any others do

Both of these courses have the same outcome, but GEPs attract an NHS bursary in years 2,3 and 4 and allow you to start work as a doctor a year earlier. For a traditional five year course, graduates will not be able to get a student loan to cover course fees and so will need to find £3000 each year from 1-4, and then an NHS bursary in year 5.

Either way, a massive amount of debt seems to be the only way of getting through medical school as an oldie!


DundeeMedStudent said...

Hey only just found your blog, via Dr Crippen. Just to say good luck with everything. I've just finished a BSc at Aberdeen and am starting medicine at Dundee next week, I already have massive debts from my first degree and am looking at atleast 50k of debt when I finsh. But its a labour of love insn't it!!
Good luck- leaving nursing was the right choice for you!
PS- do you still use admissions forum or medschool guide?

anna gregory said...

Hello dundee med student
Thanks for the comments! I am in limbo at the moment - still at work but trying to get my head around becoming a medical student. I am sure we will be fine - in debt up to our eyeballs, but fine!
Good luck with your course
Anna x

anna gregory said...

Hi again
Yes - I am addicted to both MSG and AF - I am trying to wean myself off them but they have been such a big help that I think I will keep stalking them!

DundeeMedStudent said...

ha ha I know, I still log in almost daily, I'm copperfungus on there!

mcmumbi said...

Hello, fellow Oldie:

I began medical studies in the U.S. as a 36 year old, and am on track to finish the degree in 2008, when I will be 40. It's no different than when you were in your 20s, except everyone is in their 20s, and you're no longer.

It's great fun, and I think one has the freedom of not worrying so much about grades or proving oneself. As you said, it's a labour of love, and that carries one through nicely.


Rob McDonald
University of Alabama at Birmingham (U.S.)

dieselshade said...

I got to your blog through google and your story just amazes me. I totally understand how it feels like when you realize you really want to get into medicine while you are doing a nursing program. I am a first year nursing student in Ontario who is kind of travelling the same path as you- with the right finacial decision- being major factor! I say -congratualations for following what you think is true to you. It's because of finacial concerns that I was thinking on doing nursing first and then probably consider learning medicine. Since you have gone through this experience, what would you say about my decision?

anna gregory said...

Hello dieselshade

You are right! I think that doing nursing before medicine is a real slog but I have never regretted training to be a nurse. I still work now, 18 months into the course and would not have been able to afford this course without the nursing work.

We have also been told this week that when we qualify in 2010, we will be earning £20,000!! If this turns out to be true, I will be continuing to work as a nurse as I cannot afford to live on that amount.

saiqa bi said...

hey am a student midwife and i qualify next year. Am 20 years old and medicine is something that i would love to do. Could you give me some advice on how u applied for everyting ?

thank you


studentnurse said...

sorry just been trawling through your old blogs bet your pinching yourself now but it was all worth it

About Me

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I knew I wanted to study medicine from 5 minutes into my nurse training in 1992. This didn't go down too well with my peers but it has taken me eleven years to get my life in a place where I could apply to medical school, so I have paid my nursing dues! I was lucky enough to get two offers. I have been married for seven years to an ex footballer who is now a PE teacher. We have no plans for babies but I would love more King Charles Spaniels. I start medicine on September 20th 2006 and am absolutely petrified.