UCAS Clearing for medical school

22 Dec 17:20 Mark Hinksman

Thursday August 16th 2012.  Or “A-level results day” if you are a college leaver in England and Wales!  This is bound to be a nervy day for anyone waiting to get their hands on that little future-defining piece of paper, but if you are expectantly waiting for the grades that will justify all the stress you went through with work experience, MCAT and the dreaded medical school interviews, then it will be especially harrowing…

So, what do you do if you don’t manage to get the 4 As that you required?  Well that is a question for which there is no easy answer.  Unlike other courses, medicine rarely finds its way into the process known as Clearing, which is where all the courses that have yet to be filled, or for which extra funding has suddenly become available, are published.  This is because medicine is such a competitive course that all schools are able to have lengthy reserve lists to call upon, should their first choice candidates fail to make their required grades.  This is not to say that you will never find a medical course through Clearing, but they are rarer than hen’s teeth!

 One option is to take up the insurance choice that you may have made – in an alternative degree such as Biomedical Sciences.  I am currently studying medicine at a London university and a large number of people on my course have come via exactly this route.  This has been made possible by the widening of access to medicine which has being going on in the UK for a number of years now.  Universities are increasingly accepting graduates on to their courses, in a way that has been integral to the American system for decades, so you definitely shouldn’t be worried that choosing a different degree is closing any doors to you – in fact it is really only opening more!  And it is not just Biomedical Sciences graduates which are being accepted by universities; people are coming from all routes – even if you happen to have studied Ancient History…

The clear blue waters of Phi Phi island Of course you can always decide to sit this year out of education and reapply next year.  If you choose this option you must consider the fact that medical schools like to see people doing something useful with their gap year, and it is with exactly this idea in mind that Gap Medics was set up.  By joining one of our medical placements in India, Tanzania, Thailand or the Caribbean, you will get to experience the way in which healthcare operates in an area where there simply aren’t the resources available to provide the level of patient care we are used to in our domestic hospitals.  You will learn things that will put you light years ahead of next year’s cohort of applicants, as you see patients with diseases and conditions which are uncommon - or have even been eradicated - in the UK.  And what is more you will be able to demonstrate to the people responsible for interviewing you next year that you are fully aware of the consequences of choosing medicine as a career…and have STILL chosen it!