Contingency plans for medicine in Ireland (yes, there are more options than just repeating)
It’s something that anyone who wishes to pursue a medical degree in Ireland - or elsewhere - will have (or should have!) considered. What do I do if I don’t get in?
My plan throughout the final two years of secondary school was that if I didn’t get the grades and points that I needed, I would repeat the Leaving Cert and the HPAT - hopefully at most once - until I got those points.
But I hadn’t factored in the Leaving Cert itself.
The feeling of stress throughout and exhaustion after I had finished the Leaving Cert is something unparalleled in my life before or since and that’s taking into account 4 years of medical school. It was what my life had centred around for two years at the very least, if not the majority of my secondary education, and it is tough. And it wasn’t long into exam season before I realised that I was dreading the idea of failing, not because it would prevent me from the dream career I wanted but because I couldn’t face the idea of doing it all again.
Bear in mind, this is only from my own experience. We all handle the Leaving Cert process differently and it’s definitely possible that I would have been capable of repeating - thankfully, in no small part due to the HPAT prep I did with MedEntry, it wasn’t necessary. I know plenty of people who repeated with huge success, students who had no trouble, students who found it easier the second time around. Easier, of course, does not equate to enjoyable or without stress, but it helps.
For anyone who has previously been through the Leaving Cert, or indeed is going through it right now - my sympathies! You can do this - I would strongly advise considering ALL of your options and I’m going to throw out some info here that will hopefully be of help to you. There’s no harm in preparing a contingency plan should things not go your way - you can be as prepared as you like for the Leaving Cert but nothing is set in stone.
The first thing to bear in mind - and in my years of giving HPAT advice, a surprising amount of students don’t have it clear in their head - is this:
If you are repeating the Leaving Cert, you MUST repeat the HPAT.
If you are repeating the HPAT you DO NOT have to repeat the Leaving Cert.
So if you do well in the Leaving Cert, you have a number of options as your points will carry over to the next year. This is particularly good news for those who may have been let down by the HPAT. Take a year out - this is an attractive option to those who may have skipped Transition Year and are quite young to be heading into university. Get a job, travel, but if you are taking a gap year, try and do something productive with it - you don’t want to reach the end of it struggling to see if it was worth it. Other options include doing a diploma, many of which can be completed within a year. And throughout your year, do your HPAT prep, sit it again and you’d be surprised at how your points can improve - especially when you don’t have the stress of mock exams on top of it.
One of the most popular options is doing a year of that other degree you were considering as a career or you just thought looked interesting. Pharmacy. Dentistry. Biochem. English Lit. Whatever. So, when filling out your CAO choices, put something down after Medicine that you can actually see yourself doing. And maybe after your year, you’ll find yourself wanting to see that degree out to the end. Which brings me to the next route. Graduate entry.
You can study Graduate Entry Medicine in numerous universities around the country, including UCC, UCD, RCSI and UL. The general requirement for entry is a second class honours (2H1) in your primary level 8 degree. You will also have to sit the GAMSAT, which is essentially the graduate equivalent of the HPAT (there’s no escaping it!). Your primary degree doesn’t have to be medically related or science based so this is a great option to bear in mind if you’re not really sure where your future is heading - it’s never too late to do medicine.
Hopefully some of this information will be relevant or helpful to you plan your next year or two. Keep your options open and remember - if this is what you want, one way or another you’ll get there.
Past MedEntry Student
Obtained 100th Percentile in HPAT
Studying medicine at UCC