Rejected from Medicine.. Now what?

Being rejected is hard to take, and whilst it may feel like the end of the world at the moment, be reassured it isn’t. If you’ve found yourself in this situation and aren’t sure what to do next, read on as our Careers Consultant, Jean Harris, gives her advice on how to pick yourself up and start over.


Firstly, if your disappointment is preventing you from moving on and from considering your options, remember you can access help to deal with your feelings at the University’s Counselling Service.

Thwarted would-be doctors have a great deal to offer and do find other careers immensely satisfying. What are those careers and how do you start to consider where you go from here? Read on….

To re-apply or not to re-apply?

Try to find out why you were rejected. This will help you to decide if it’s worth re-applying. It may be that you didn’t have enough relevant experience and/or that your application wasn’t strong enough. It may be that your admissions test score wasn’t high enough. Whatever the reason, consider if you can realistically improve your chances of success before re-applying.

  • Check the university’s policy about re-applicants.
  • Remember you will need to re-take any admissions tests in the new application cycle.
  • Take action to strengthen your application e.g. gain relevant experience.

It may be feasible to consider applying to medical schools abroad.

  • Check out the funding, the language medicine is taught in and the acceptability of the degree for practice.
  • Check out the pros and cons and where courses are available on Astarfuture website.

Not realistic to re-apply? Now what?

Choosing a different career.

It’s daunting to change your career focus when you’ve been committed to medicine. Take it a step at a time.

  • Start by identifying the reasons you wanted to study medicine.
  • Complete a stock take of your skills, abilities and aptitudes to help you focus on what your strengths are, as well as to identify all career areas which might appeal to you.

Prospects Planner and Targetjobs Careers Report are both helpful tools to get you started on re-identifying what you want, what you have to offer and ‘what’s out there’.

Health Related Careers

Not sure what you want to do, but still want to work for the NHS? Check out the NHS Career Mapper for ideas. Your motivation for medicine might have come from a desire ‘to help people’ and/or (if you are a scientist) from wanting to apply your scientific knowledge in a practical way.

There are many professions ‘helping people’ and/or where scientific knowledge is fundamental. Doctors aren’t much use without treatments developed by researchers; many patients would not recover without the help of other health professionals such as physiotherapists or therapeutic radiographers. New health care professions are being developed such as Physician Associate where you carry out a range of tasks currently undertaken by doctors.

Remember, for any health related profession training programme, you must show that you have relevant experience and are committed to that profession at the point of application.

The NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) is worth checking. It leads to a range of senior scientist positions within the NHS. To get an idea of what your degree subject could lead to in the NHS check out check What Can I Do With My Degree .

The medical science world is very extensive and not all of it happens within the hospital environment. The common factor is that all jobs within this area contribute to improving people’s overall health and wellbeing. The Future Morph website has an overview of medical science careers.

Other career areas

To see a wider range of opportunities related to your degree (whatever subject it is) check out Options with Your Subject. Check out what has happened to other Leeds University graduates in your subject. Many graduate opportunities are open to graduates of any subject so do consider careers which may initially appear not to be related.

Further study

  • Why undertake post graduate study?
  • Does it fit with your passion for a subject?
  • Will it lead to a professional qualification?
  • Will it help you to change direction?

Check out this article on post graduate study to see if it is for you, to find courses and research how to fund them.

Make sure you have a solid set of reasons for doing postgraduate study before you make any commitments.

Taking some time out

Not ready to decide what to do next? Taking time out before you decide your next move can help you to come to terms with your disappointment and help you to:

  • gain relevant work experience, paid work or voluntary,
  • improve your employability by developing skills such as organisation, communication and teamwork,
  • learn new skills, such as teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL),
  • stretch yourself by trying a new challenge or experience, such as volunteering in a developing country.

Check out information from the Prospects article for more tips and hints about taking time out.

Where next?

Careers staff can help you plan a way forward and find a positive outcome from a currently disappointing situation. Use our drop-in service and check out what help is available in your faculty.

Good luck

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Filed under Advice, Develop your employability, Postgraduate study, Work Experience

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