"Based on general comments I have received over the years I would like to explicitly state the point of this article up front: Don't let anyone tell you that you can just keep going through the motions, ticking boxes and that you will eventually get into medicine by trying for long enough (or for having enough passion) - There is a high chance that things will not work out and you will probably be left at least a little bitter about the outcome. In addition to this, I would like to draw specific attention to the fact that I do not make any reference to race in this post or any of my comments related to this post."
Johannesburg, South Africa
- Start by nurturing a passion to become a doctor for as long as you can remember
- Add a natural aptitude for science and technology
- Participate (and perform well) in sport (first team rugby), cultural activities (play the piano from age 7) and academics at school (and be a prefect)
- Get a basic first aid certificate
- Donate spare time to volunteer work in hospitals and clinics
- Complete an IEB matric at a Jo'burg private school with results that are good enough to be offered a place in electrical engineering (where the academic entry requirements are higher than for medicine)
- Apply for entry into first year medicine at Wits Medical School (2001)
- Complete a Bachelor of Science degree in human anatomy and physiology at the University of the Witwatersrand
- Make special arrangements to complete a basic life support (BLS) training course from the American Heart Association (this course is run for qualified healthcare professionals) - Get higher test results than qualified healthcare professionals who are on the course with you
- Continue volunteer work at a christian primary healthcare clinic
- Make rural hospital visits with an old (practicing) professor of surgery
- Apply for entry into the Graduate Entry Medical Programme (GEMP) at Wits Medical School with a respected surgeon as your referee (2004)
- Accept an offer to join the experimental physiology honours class at Wits Medical School
- Contribute to the medical research community by collecting cardiovascular data that is published in the American Journal of Physiology
- Help second year medical students in physiology lab tutorials (one of whom didn't know what diarrhoea is and another who was repeating second year medicine for the 3rd time - painful, but true stories)
- Apply for entry into GEMP at Wits Medical School again, this time with an A rated physiology Professor as your referee (2005)
- Get excited when you are short listed for an interview
- Mention that you want to "help people" during the interview
- Have the dean of student affairs warp your answers and talk over you for the remainder of the 'interview'
- Reinvent yourself
- Get on with life in a completely different field, continue to "help people" in other ways and don't feel too bad that the only thing you've really sucked at so far (in spite of a rather wasted medical background), is getting in to study medicine at Wits Medical School...
I originally posted this on my blog back in 2011 and the feedback and comments I got from it over the years inspired me to create the online forum where you are reading this now. I've closed the comments at the original post, but please continue commenting here if you would like to contribute to the discussion ...