This article is for students who were unfortunately not accepted into local medical schools. The competition to get into medical school is extremely intense and the schools do not really give the specific criteria on what type of students they are most likely to accept. Nonetheless, good job for trying your best!

So what should you do if you fail to qualify for local medical school?

If you have other options in mind that you are passionate about, you should spend some time exploring those options if you have not already done so. 

If medical school is your only aim and you do not have any backup plans, you may want to consider applying overseas if your parents are comfortable with it or taking a gap year to reapply into local medical school. If your rank points can be increased by retaking an H1 examination (eg. H1 Economics), you may want to consider retaking an A-Level subject or retaking the whole A Levels. 

All about applying overseas

Applying for overseas medical schools is also competitive because there are limited spots for international students and the fact that you have to compete with international applicants all over the world. Not to mention, the total school fees for the whole course can go up to S$500,000 or more, so do make sure that medicine is something you really want to do, or you will be wasting your money and time. Most medical schools in the UK and Australia have a duration of 6 years, but there are some schools with a shorter duration of 5 years. 

On top of that, you should consider if you want to practice medicine in Singapore or not. If you would like to practice medicine in Singapore, you should apply to the schools that are recognised by the Singapore Medical Council. The list can be found here (updated as of Jan 2020). A wise move will be to apply to the recognised schools, even if you are not so inclined to work in Singapore, just in case you need to return to Singapore for personal reasons, or if you change your mind during medical school.  

If you are interested in applying for the UK medical schools, the UCAS application deadline will be in October and you can start filling in your application from as early as 18 May 2022. Do check with your JC if they still offer help to alumni for their UCAS application. If they are able to help, you can apply together with your juniors when the application opens. However, if they are not able to help, you may want to ask an agent to help you with the UCAS application. Regardless of whether you are applying through UCAS with or without help from your JC, you should contact your Civics Tutor (CT), Chemistry or Biology teacher and ask them if they are willing to help you write a reference letter for your UCAS application. Make sure to prepare early and check with the teachers way before the deadline as most teachers have very tight schedules and may not be able to provide you with the help you need on short notice. When applying for the UK medical schools, do check if the school requires a BMAT or UCAT entrance exam. You will need to register and sit for those examinations by yourself. Failure to do so will result in immediate rejection. On top of that, you will be required to write a personal statement. Since there are a couple of months before the UCAS application cycle starts again, make good use of your time and commit yourself to work in a healthcare setting, volunteering, reading up about medicine and understanding your motivations to do medicine better. All these will come into good use when you sit for the interviews. 

If you are interested in applying for Australian medical schools, you have to apply with your A-Level results. Different medical schools have different deadlines and different application processes, so it will be advisable to seek an agent. Not to worry, there is no agent fee. You will have to sit for the ISAT and applicants will be selected for the interview based on their A-Level results and ISAT results. Extracurriculars are not taken into consideration for the first half of the selection process, but these experiences will certainly aid you to ace the interviews if you use them strategically, for example, like talking about what you learnt during your experiences and linking them to why you think medicine is suitable for you. There is also no need to write a personal statement or ask someone to write a recommendation letter for you. 

If you are interested in applying for US medical schools, do note that US medical schools only offer graduate medical programmes. This means you have to take an undergraduate pre-med degree before applying to medical school. 

All about Duke-NUS medical school

If you are not keen on studying overseas, and you are interested in taking graduate medicine in Singapore, the Duke-NUS medical school offers a graduate medicine pathway. You can only apply for it when you have completed, or are in the final year, of a bachelor or honours degree. You will need to sit for the GAMSAT or MCAT and your results will be taken into consideration. You will need 3-5 references from professors, mentors and/or employers. The rest of the requirements and technical standards can be found here.  There are also many pre-MD pathways that you can apply for, and these tracks offer conditional admissions to outstanding students who wish to pursue graduate-entry medicine at Duke-NUS. You can learn more about them here. These pathways are advisable for students who wish to pursue their other academic interests while remaining in the medical landscape. If you are an aspiring clinician-scientist and would like to pursue a PhD on top of your MD, you may want to consider the MD-PhD track in Duke-NUS medical school. All students admitted into the programme will be offered a full scholarship for the PhD component as well as scholarships to cover tuition fees for their first 2 years in the MD programme and their final year of MD training.

All applicants for the MD-PhD programme are required to sit for the MCAT. Upon completion of the degree, students will receive a joint MD degree from Duke University and NUS, as well as a PhD from NUS. 

Taking a gap year to reapply into medical school

Over the years, the notion of taking gap years has become increasingly popular, as it gives students a second chance to reapply into their dream course, retake their examinations or spend time exploring future career options. There have been many prospective medical students who took a gap year or even a few gap years, and eventually landed a place in a local medical school. However, that being said, it depends on how well you utilise your gap year, and even if you are able to stay productive, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted into a local medical school after taking a gap year. Competition is still intense, or even more intense, as gap year students will be expected to do something fruitful with their extra time. 

Here are some things that you can do while taking a gap year to reapply into medical school. You can pursue an internship in academia, work in a clinic or a hospital, do more job shadowing with doctors, network with other healthcare professionals, as well as explore other jobs in the healthcare industry and prepare for a backup plan, just in case your reapplication is unsuccessful. You may also wish to retake an A-Level subject at H1 level to improve your rank points, or give the whole A-Levels another shot. This will require a lot of discipline and it is advisable that you spend time thinking about your abilities and mental capacity should you be taking A Levels again. Taking a gap year may be hard, especially when you watch your friends leading slightly different lives from you. You should spend some time learning more about gap years and deciding for yourself if you are ready to take up this challenge. Should you need help, you can always reach out to GapyearSG, a Singapore-based organisation started to provide assistance and opportunities to prospective and current gap year students. 

With that, we wish you all the best with your reapplication and if you would like to find out more about applying into law school, do lookout for our upcoming workshop Career Pathfinder 2022, a University & Career Series for Young Adults (aged 15-19) which provides you with a better-informed decision-making process when selecting a degree and university! The workshop will be on 12th March (Saturday), from 9 am to 1 pm, online via zoom for only $19.90. 

References:
  1. https://www.duke-nus.edu.sg/education/our-programmes/md-phd-programme
  2. https://www.duke-nus.edu.sg/admissions/pre-md-pathways
  3. https://www.duke-nus.edu.sg/admissions/duke-nus-medicine-programmes/admissions-requirements