Can you get into medicine with no prior qualifications?

I am 37 years old and with no formal qualifications, I have a one year old and a nine year old, my boyfriend wants another baby but in the meantime I have looked at access courses and there is a possibility of me going to university for a medical degree that I understand is very hard and takes five years before I start earning. I don’t know what to do and all these years I have wanted this degree but never had the confidence but life seems to be always in the way. I need to get a job but I wanted to do something that I would thoroughly enjoy. Can you please help me.

By looking so carefully at your options and preferences, you’re already taking control of events, not just letting life happen – congratulations!
Doing an access course before you start degree studies is an excellent idea.  At this stage, it’s really important to build up your study skills and self-confidence, in addition to learning about your subject.
Do you mostly want to take a degree that’ll lead to a job you want to do?  Or are you so strongly committed to the idea of doing medicine and becoming a doctor that nothing else will suit?  I’m asking because I can see lots of obstacles in front of you if you only want to do medicine.  I know you’d find it much easier to get a place if you opted for a different degree – and it might well lead to a career you’d enjoy.
Getting into medicine is hideously difficult, even for the best qualified students who’ve had the time and energy to do voluntary work relevant to medicine and to “shadow” doctors working in hospitals and primary care.  Some medical schools accept students who’ve successfully completed suitable access courses but a number don’t.
There are few universities and colleges providing suitable access courses – do you live near one of these (eg in Bradford, London or Manchester)?
Have you any recent experience of study, especially in scientific subjects?  Equipping access course students with enough scientific background for medical school means the access courses are intense; your self-confidence might take a knock if you couldn’t keep up the pace.  You might not be accepted for some access courses without either appropriate GCSEs / alternative qualifications (eg a level two or level three National Vocational Qualification) or suitable work experience.
I’m hoping you’ll say “I still want to take a degree and get a job I’d thoroughly enjoy – but I’m willing to look more widely at my options”.  If that’s your feeling, then, I’d suggest you start your quest by thinking about careers that attract you.  As you’ll be a graduate some time in the next three -four years (!!), go onto the graduates website, work through their career guidance program and investigate the job profiles that most attract you.  The career data provides information about the suitability of different careers for late starters, the availability of flexible working, etc.  Good luck!

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

Comments [9]

  • Anon says:

    I am turning 19 this June and have 7 GCSEs mainly Cs. I want to go to med school so that I can become a psychiatrist but I’m worried I’ve left it too late as I’ve take. 3 years out of studying. I want to know if there are any options other than going back to college to redo my GCSEs then doing my a levels and then going to uni. I’m not sure if I’m qualified for the access courses..?

  • Bernice says:

    I am 28 years old and with a secretarial diploma, I am a single mom parenting, I heard and have read that there is possibility of me going to university for a medical degree. I know that studying medicine is very hard and takes five years before I start earning. I have always wanted to be a pediatrician one day, I have the confidence that i will make it through but my problem is that I cant afford and ups and downs that I feel can conquer . I need to get a job to pay for my school fees . Can you please help me.

  • Amin says:

    Hi I am 18 years old and I don’t have A levels but I would like to study medicine. What are my choices?

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi. I have always wanted to study and get a carrier.i have a partial blind child. My employer has failed to accept me back as part time. I feel like this is the right time to take up studies. I am very interested to do social work. What are the requirements. I enjoy medical programmes on tv. Am not sure which path to take. I have nvq4 in supporting and promoting independence. I have worked as an ass manager in a home care for the last 5 years. Please give advice.

    Editor:Can you write via the Advice & Suppor/Q & A page box and we can forward to our careers adviser, but you need to specify social work [and do you mean as a qualified social worker? – see] or something medical and what would that be?

  • Anonymous says:

    The staff on the access course at Birkbeck College in London are extremely supportive. Would thoroughly recommend the college if you’re in the area.

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