Rachel, a graduate-entry student at the University of Southampton tells us about how she got into medicine

Having never been an 'academic' student at school but wanting to explore and study medicine, I was encouraged not to apply to medicine after my a-levels by teachers and parents, and embarked on a degree in Biochemistry. Although I successfully engaged in all the festiveness of being a student, I found the degree not only uninspiring but hard to engage with. Following graduation, I had a few 'wild' jobs working across the country flinging children off climbing walls and driving speed boats, only to land a health care job in Radiotherapy and Oncology. Although at the time this job seemed a little random, even to myself, looking back it was my desire to work with people in a health care setting and 'help' that drove me to apply for those jobs, and gain employment here. I absolutely thrived in this job, working alongside consultants and health professionals, but quickly reached the top of the ladder at a tender age. One consultant in particular suggested I apply to graduate medicine, something I hadn't thought of since leaving school. From there the story is simple, I applied to medicine, listing all these activities I had done and how they had all led me to this one decision, and gained a place at Southampton to study graduate medicine, which I am extremely grateful for.

Entering university again as a mature student, I found a much more exhilarating experience. From the initial fear and daunting prospect of leaving home and making new friends the first time I went to university, this time was completely different. Although making friends is always a bonus, this time university was about me. The value of money is much greater, and missing lectures or clinical sessions, I regard as effectively wasting my own money. I think that's part of the reason why graduate students are always the first to arrive and sit at the front. My passion for studying and desire to achieve are much greater than they would have been at aged 18, and I really feel engaged with the course. On the course at Southampton, they actively avoid patronising graduate students, and much of the learning is self-directed. Initially this was a little daunting, but allows you to draw on your strengths, rely on existing knowledge and explore areas of interest. Having completed half of my medical degree, my course now integrates with the undergraduate course for clinical placements. On the graduate programme, we have already undertaken many clinical placements, and gained many of the necessary skills - including how to avoid those 'awkward' moments and mumbling of embarrassing questions to patients. I have had a incredible time so far, and really enjoyed my second visit to university, and would definitely recommended it to anyone with the right desire. 

Copyright Get Into Medicine 2013