Medicine is one of the most competitive university courses to apply for. At St George’s, University of London alone, we received 10 applications for every place on our undergraduate medical degree last year. So, it’s no surprise that many applicants with the potential to be great doctors don’t get a place straight away. We’ve put together some options for you if you applied to medicine but aren’t holding a place.

Students study a flayed leg
Whether you didn’t receive any offers or you’ve received your A Level results and it’s not the news you’d hoped for, you don’t have to give up your ambitions. You have plenty of choices, even if you still have your heart set on a career in medicine.

Clearing #1: look out for medicine places in Adjustment

A few years ago, it was virtually unheard of for medical degree places to be available come A Level results day. But the higher education market is changing.

A Level reforms mean it is more difficult for universities to allocate places in advance of results. This, combined with fewer people applying to university, has seen universities offer more places through Clearing and Adjustment.

At St George’s, we have offered places on our medicine degree through Clearing and Adjustment for the last two years and are offering them again this year.

Medical student Vittoria Ferlisi Vianelli secured her place through Adjustment two years ago. She said: “I initially had no offers to Medicine, so I had applied and was planning on doing Physiology at Nottingham, but had not fully given up on the idea of Medicine.

“I was lucky enough be offered an interview when I called St George's on results day. I have since been very happy at St George’s and cannot imagine myself doing another course.”

Further information: read about our Medicine MBBS, find out more about Clearing and Adjustment at St George’s or call our Medicine Clearing Hotline on 0300 303 0457.

Clearing option #2: consider courses that offer a medicine transfer

Competition for medicine places in Adjustment is fierce, so you could consider other courses which may provide you with an alternative route to studying medicine. Some medical schools offer other science-based courses which have a medicine transfer option for students who excel during their first degree.

At St George’s, students who get the top results on the biomedical science course may be able to transfer onto the second year of the four-year graduate-entry medicine degree at the end of their studies.

You can find out more about the St George’s Biomedical Science degree and the careers it can lead to on our course pages.

Clearing #3: consider other health professions

There is a wide range of rewarding careers available in the health sector that can offer good career progression and high earning potential.

You’ll need a degree to qualify in most of these professions, but places may be available in Clearing.

Fraser Betts was heartbroken when he didn’t get the grades to take up his university offers. After an initial panic, he looked at his Clearing options and set his sights on a Diagnostic Radiography degree at St George’s, University of London. He needed to complete a foundation year to qualify for a place. Two years later, he has just completed the first year of his degree and hasn’t looked back. He says:

“I was heartbroken when I found out my results. I had a total internal freak out when I saw them pop up on UCAS. It ended up with me lying in bed for hours at the end of the day, just staring at the ceiling because I was emotionally exhausted. It all happened in such a rush; opening UCAS and discovering I had not achieved the scores I wanted. But you can pick yourself up and find another path.” Read more about Fraser’s story.

The NHS website is a good source of information on the different types of careers available in the health profession. You can find out which course St George’s has available through Clearing by browsing our Clearing pages.

Clearing alternative: Take a gap year and reapply next year

Taking a gap year can be an exhilarating experience. You can choose to spend it doing something you love like travelling or volunteering, or gaining some work experience and saving some money.

You can gain experience and confidence that gives your university application the edge, particularly if you spend this time working in a healthcare setting. Not only will this boost your work experience in a caring environment – an essential element of a successful medical application - it also gives you insight into what it’s like to work in healthcare and helps you develop other skills, such as empathy, that universities will be looking out for during your interview.

After not receiving any offers to study medicine, Olivia Harnby, took a year out to consider her options and gain some work experience. She volunteered as a first responder with the ambulance service and worked as a health care assistant. The experience confirmed that medicine was the career for her and gave her an advantage when she reapplied to university. She is now looking forward to her fourth year of medical studies and is still enjoying working as a first responder. She said:

“During my year out I worked really hard as a health care assistant and as a volunteer first responder with the ambulance service, which I still do now alongside my studies.

“My gap year strengthened my desire to become a doctor and gave me the motivation to reapply to medicine. It shaped my interests, and has made me clinically confident when on placements. It also gave me the career goal to continue my pre-hospital work after I graduate, as a pre-hospital trauma doctor for the air ambulance.”