People who know me would probably tell you I’m a very confident person and that I don’t get stressed very easily. I can assure you that is not always the case and it’s taken a lot for me to become the person I am today. It’s my experiences of applying to medicine, being constantly rejected and taking a gap year that has shaped me. My route into medicine was fairly different to the average medical student. The majority of medical students go straight into medicine after doing their A-levels.
When A-level students open their results on results day a collective sigh of relief (and some whooping) can be heard up and down the country as most 18-year-olds come to the realization that they have successfully managed to meet their conditional offers and very soon they will be heading off to university to become successful independent individuals.
However there are many students who don’t get the grades they need, some missing out by just one grade, and if you listen hard enough then you may be able to hear the silently devastating shatter of dreams. Results day is brutal for those people and I appeal to you to take these people into consideration on your next results day. You have every right to be happy and celebrate passing your exams but just be respectful of those who are not as pleased as you, don’t go shoving your success in other people’s faces. No one likes a sore loser but people hate a sore winner. (Sorry if I sound preachy.)
I was in neither of these groups. I didn’t have an offer to study medicine anywhere so there was no pressure to meet any offers. That’s not to say I was care free on results day. There were high expectations on me to do well in my A-levels, this was mostly coming from myself and some from my relatives.
My results day was probably the second proudest day of my life; the first being the day I actually got an offer to study medicine. The results that I got were beyond what I was expecting and I definitely exceeded the expectations of my teachers. Getting good results was the first step for me in rebuilding my confidence which was knocked after being rejected by four medical schools. So there I was with three amazing A-levels and nothing to do with them. Since I didn’t have any offers to study medicine I decided to take a gap year (best year of my life), which I’ll write about in the near future.
I re-applied to medical school again and the first university to get back to me was Sheffield, with a disappointing rejection. Then followed by a rejection from Nottingham, an interview at Leicester which ended in a crippling rejection and an interview at Barts which got me onto a waiting list. After another painstaking year of UKCAT, personal statements and interviews the only progress I had made from the previous year was to be waiting-listed by Barts, leaving me with the tiniest shred of hope and my confidence shot to pieces.
It was on the afternoon before the results day of the following year that I received a last-minute opportunity. With nothing to lose, I phoned every medical school in the UK and asked (begged) them if they were going into clearing and if they would consider me. By some miracle I was invited for an interview by Sheffield medical school, who had gone into clearing. A medical school going into clearing was something unheard of for years, like finding a golden egg.
Before going into the interview I decided that I wasn’t going to give them the chance to say no. All of this was just bravado that blew away like smoke in the wind the minute I sat down in front of the interviewers. By some miracle they thought I was good enough, because within an hour of the interview I received a phone call formally offering me a place at the University of Sheffield to study medicine. It had gone from being the most stressful day ever to the best day of my life. It just goes to show that when one door closes, another one opens. (Don’t worry, the irony of getting an offer from the University of Sheffield after being rejected by them first hasn’t escaped me.)
Take home message of the blog: All the rejections I received actually ended up benefitting me in the end by making me a confident person because I’m not scared of rejection anymore. Confidence is like a building, sometimes you have to knock down an old building to build a bigger and better one. Your confidence might be knocked after getting a rejection but when you build your confidence back up its bigger and better than before. It’s difficult to see the silver lining of rejection when you’re in the moment but take it from me, something better is waiting for you around the corner.