I couldn't do science at A-level as my school didn't offer it, I also became pregnant and had my first child during my A-levels, so I didn't get very good grades. I went on to have two more children at 20 and 21.
At 22 I enrolled on a biomedical science access course and from there I gained entry to Queen’s University Belfast to do a BSc in human biology. After that I continued studying and did an MSc in clinical anatomy. After this I sat the GAMSAT and gained entry to the graduate medicine course at Ulster University.
Anyone can become a doctor, it takes a significant commitment and perseverance, but it can be done. I am a working class, mature student. I am also a mother with several long-term disabling health conditions, although I am fortunate to have family support.
You will never know what you can achieve until you try. I thought the same, that someone like me could not become a doctor, but I am here now and it's going well!
My top tips for any young person considering a career in medicine would be to ensure you get yourself very comfortable with a strict revision schedule – you want it to become routine.
Shadowing medical professionals isn't always feasible and not all students are granted equal access to opportunities to do so, but you can still volunteer in other areas. Regardless, you should be able to demonstrate what you learned and gained from the experience and how those skills would translate to a career in medicine.
Financially it can be tough, but it also depends on your pathway of entry. From experience, if applying to graduate entry consider taking a year or two to work and save before going back. This also allows you to have a break in your studies, allows you to mature a little and enjoy life for a while before making a massive commitment – it is a long journey.
In the grand scheme of things, one-to-two years to save up is very little time but it is worth it.
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Eimear Mac Siacais is a Belfast postgraduate medical student