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No medical degree? No problem! A graduate medical degree is the cure

No medical degree but you want to become a doctor? The cure: a graduate medical degree.

The graduate medical degree was introduced to combat the shortage of doctors and to give those who didn't opt for a first degree in medicine the chance to become a doctor. The course covers the same information as an undergraduate medical degree but there is a difference in the way it is taught.

Qualifications and skills needed

To apply for the fast-track medical degree, most courses require a 2.1 or a first in a biological science degree. In addition to the right class of degree, some universities will also require you to sit an entrance exam, such as GAMSAT (Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test), BMAT (the BioMedical Admissions Test) or UKCAT (the UK Clinical Aptitude Test).

These exams test problem solving and communication skills. In addition, GAMSAT examines reasoning in biological and physical sciences. Candidates would need to study science independently in order to do well in this section of GAMSAT.

You should also show admissions tutors your awareness of the qualities required to be a good doctor. These are:

  • good intellectual ability, problem solving and critical skills with an understanding of lifelong learning
  • honesty, integrity and conscientiousness
  • helpfulness and a willingness to co-operate
  • interpersonal skills, empathy, reflectiveness and an awareness of your own limitations
  • ability to deal with stress
  • attitudes necessary for good medical practice and patient care, such as not being judgmental, cultural awareness and sensitivity to life-cycle stages.

Advice for prospective candidates

Applicants over the age of 35 need to seriously consider the implications of embarking on such a demanding career. It takes a minimum of nine to ten years to complete training in any specialty and some specialties may be reluctant to allow a late starter to begin specialist training.

Even if you have a scientific background, you should study hard for the entrance exam and not take your knowledge for granted – for GAMSAT non-science graduates often do better because they have worked for it.

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