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Rhiannon is a fourth Year Medical Student at Cardiff University School of Medicine
With A-level results day looming and the panic growing amongst school and college children everywhere, I can’t help but reflect on my own experience…
I first applied to study medicine (as many do) aged 17, in my first term of A2. My first choice was always Cardiff Medical School and I was thrilled when I got an offer through. Fast forward to A-level results day in August 2012, a month before I made the big move, and I already knew I wasn’t getting in. Cards on the table, I hadn’t put the work in for these exams but even so, it didn’t make it any less devastating when I saw my results. Three Bs stared back at me blankly and my heart sunk.
Anyone else who has been in this position knows the panic that ensues; do you accept your back up choice? Do you take a year out and try again? Do you completely reconsider your future career? I didn’t want to do any of these and instead, sobbed to my careers advisor who eventually found Medical Sciences BSc in the University of South Wales, a feeder stream for Cardiff Medical School. The next day and I was in a car down to Treforest for an interview and by that afternoon, I had been accepted through clearing.
The next three years were tough. We had a rigorous course which covered a varied range of scientific disciplines; Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Biochemistry and Genetics were amongst the core topics. But, what drew me to this course above and beyond others was the clinical opportunities it offered. We were taught first aid, hand washing and how to take blood samples and in years one and two we had clinical placements in hospitals in South Wales. These weeks would boost my morale and remind me why I wanted to be a doctor. In the third year, we had the opportunity to partake in human dissection with Cardiff Medical School and it is one of the most amazing opportunities I have ever been given. Although the course was tough and a bit longer than my original plan, I had some fantastic times and made friends for life.
In February 2015, I interviewed for Cardiff Medical School as a graduate entry student, it was like déjà vu. Two months later and I received an email with my offer and screamed the house down. I have never been so relieved. Despite my excitement, I couldn’t bear to lose this opportunity again and I knuckled down for my third year exams, working harder than I had ever worked for exams in my life. When I received my results, followed by a confirmation of my place at Cardiff Medical School, there was no better feeling.
Taking the long way around wasn’t the original plan, but I don’t regret it anymore. Looking back at my 18-year-old self, I don’t know if I would’ve been ready to study medicine. By the time I entered at 21, I had grown up a lot and understood a lot more about the career I was going into. More than anything, I’m glad I was given the opportunity to question myself and to ask whether this is really what I wanted before I committed. The way I look at it now, the extra two years it added onto my length of study is a small price to pay for knowing that this is something I want to do as a lifelong career.
So, to those of you reading this who don’t get the results you were hoping for, please don’t panic. There are so many options out there should you end up in the same position I did and if medicine is still what you really want to do, with enough commitment and passion you will succeed, even if you have to take the scenic route!