Saturday, 3 June 2017

Starting out to become a doctor, dentist or vet.

Hello, I am here to help you in your quest to get into university to study medicine, dentistry or veterinary science.  My blog is based on experience in sixth forms over the past 30 years, successfully guiding many students into these careers and, most recently, students from widening participation backgrounds.  Future posts will take you through the stages to achieve a successful application. 

Great careers and definitely worth considering carefully as there will always be a need for such roles.

I hope I am talking to you when you are about 16 years old and somewhere near Year 11 at school.  If you are older than this, I can still advise but the content will be a little different.

The big question to ask yourself is 'How do I really know I want to be a doctor/dentist/vet?'.  In other words, how have you tested this vocation, is it really your decision and is it realistic?  So, what experience have you had of these fields? Who is encouraging you to pursue this career? Have you got the academic potential to make this a feasible aspiration?

Around the age of 16, you should be able to get some work experience dealing with vulnerable people (children or adults) in a clinical setting OR observe a dentist at work OR work with a variety of animals.  Some young people do this and quickly discover they can't cope with blood and gore or watching people/animals suffer and not being able to make them better.  Job well done!  Others find the experience to be energising and enjoyable.  Also job well done!    If you are just about to finish your GCSEs, there is still time for you to get some work experience over the summer holidays if you act quickly.  Be warned, it's tough going and I've known students who have tried 40 dentists, for example, before finding someone who would take them on.  Hospitals have websites with Volunteer pages.  Google for Care Homes near you.  Animal Sanctuaries and Pet Zoos often want volunteers.
Put on a smart outfit and take a CV with you to visit - with a smile to impress and offer your services.

If you are under the expectation of your family to become a doctor or dentist then you need to think carefully about whether this is something you actually want and would be good at doing for the rest of your life.  Neither career is particularly good at making money these days and there are plenty of other jobs which make more.  Status is an oft-quoted reason for qualifiying as a dentist or doctor but do remember that these people are increasingly sued as well as working very long and unsocialble hours.

Academically, you need to be strong to pursue the 'straightforward' pathway into these careers (ie from sixth form to university at 18 years):  6 or so A or A* grades (7,8 and 9s in new money) are the order of the day at GCSE.  You will also need at least a B grade in English GCSE.  You need to be honest with yourself and your parents on results day.  If you have worked your socks off and not got these grades, then it is not impossible but also not likely that you will gain the top grades needed at A level in two years time.  And if you got less good grades because you did not work hard enough, then what does this say about your motivation?  These are hard questions!  But an honest answer now could save you and your family a lot of heartache later.  There are lots of careers, in the NHS and in research, which use caring and science to good effect and you should not rule these out if you are genuinely concerned with helping people through scientific skills.

All for now....good luck with exams and I will catch up with you in my next post.