5 years of hoops jumped through, each at the precise height, angle and speed required by the medical school. Final OSCEs and written examinations completed. Now it was just a question of awaiting results for the final time and despite going through this every year for the past 4 years the waiting did not get easier.

The deaneries (hospitals we were allocated to for our first jobs) were already tempting fate by beginning correspondence with: “Dear Doctor…” Talk about counting chickens before any eggs had hatched.

I know a consultant surgeon who wears a particular surgical cap for every procedure. The one time he used a disposable one the procedure didn’t go well. Now he ensures he is always wearing this one surgical cap. Doctors are evidence based. How can a cap affect surgical outcomes? Superstition seems to thread its skinny fingers into any tiny cracks prying them open.

Results day eventually came and we found out the usual way by logging on with our candidate numbers. Double, triple and quadruple check. Each time it still said: “Written Examinations: Pass, OSCEs: Pass” !!!


* * *

Last week I became a Foundation Year 1 (F1) doctor! A few days of induction and shadowing the outgoing F1 doctors, they moved to their F2 jobs and we stepped into their quite large and well-worn shoes. Sudden responsibilities and lists of jobs generated by ward rounds seemed to keep growing and that dreaded bleep would come alive at the worst moments. Supposedly we will get quicker but we survived week 1 and the nurses were amazing! Thank you nurses.



Right now I still find it hard to believe I’m doing this. It wasn’t until recently when it sank in that actually I had become a doctor – and I nearly had a wobbly emotional moment.

Has it been worth it? Yes in many different ways. Throughout medical school and as a very junior doctor so far, it has been a privilege. As an F1, my job involves lots of paperwork, organising and ensuring all patients are seen on ward rounds (you’d be surprised how easy a patient could be missed, especially outliers – those patients on other wards but who are still your responsibility), prescribing: fluids; pain relief; anti- sickness; regular meds and completing the dreaded administrative paperwork required to discharge patients. All straightforward but there is so much of it with constant interruptions from nurses chasing you on tasks.

There have also been times when I’ve already been able to make a difference. Once, I was stopped in the corridor, “Excuse me……” expecting to be asked directions, I looked up but recognised the woman in front of me as the wife of a patient I had seen during the weekend shift. She said: “I don’t know your name but I wanted to say thank you for explaining everything and being there for my husband. I’ve told all the staff on the ward about you too…” Another time, a man shouted my name and then thanked me for placing a catheter which relieved his painful urinary retention (unable to pee). I didn’t recognise him out of his hospital gown and he looked so well.

On the negative side, the hours are really long with little control over them which affects free time outside of work. Missing weddings and important family or friends’ events and not being able to see your own family are more sacrifices to come. If becoming rich is your objective, there are much easier ways to earn far more. Quitting a job for medicine means you may never recoup earnings lost whilst studying then starting on a junior doctor salary of £22,862 (currently).

someone not only moved the goalposts but at the same time smeared a little bit of Type 6 all over them too

Finally, practically all clinical staff are concerned about the future of the NHS which is undergoing transition to the extent that patient care is a concern. It feels like things are in a bit of a mess and there are still huge uncertainties with junior doctor contracts. I’m ecstatic to have qualified but the ongoing politics have tarnished that feeling of achievement. It feels as though whilst we had our heads down working hard trying to qualify, someone not only moved the goalposts but at the same time smeared a little bit of Type 6 over them too. Hopefully this will be fixed soon.

In retrospect if I knew the extent to which it would have been so challenging with so much life disruption I’d think twice, but ultimately would still have done it. Most medical students and applicants have a special kind of stubborn blind (or crystal clear?) determination in terms of achieving objectives. I’ve never met a group with such a high level of motivation. If I could go back in time to warn my old self about the road ahead, I don’t think “medical school applicant” me would have listened.


I thought a blog about becoming a medical student and doctor later in life would be useful and interesting for others thinking about doing the same. The main differences due to being older were: higher stakes (i.e. more to lose); huge change in lifestyle, different priorities and worries in life; needing to juggle middle aged life and medical school and of course being mistaken for a consultant countless times. On the plus side, experience and previous jobs helped with communication with patients of all ages, medical professionals and students alike and communication is a huge part of the job. Otherwise the majority of my experiences were probably the same as anyone else’s regardless of age. What it does show is that it can be achieved whatever your age.

It was an extraordinary and privileged experience. However there is really nothing extraordinary about me. If you’re motivated enough you’ll be offered a place and graduate from medical school. What was difficult was doing it well without it being totally disruptive to ordinary life. But if you choose this pathway you already know that you (and your family) won’t have an ordinary life. What is “ordinary” these days anyway?

Thank you for visiting and hearing my story and thank you also to all those I’ve met along the way especially my family and especially those superhero patients, doctors, nurses and classmates without whom I would have really struggled.

If you’re on this path already then best of luck to you. When it gets tough, keep calm and remember that you definitely can get through it too.

Yours sincerely



12 thoughts on “Conclusion

  1. Hearty congratulations to you Dr MSL. I’ve watched your journey with interested. Well done and enjoy saving lives.

  2. Congratulations Doctor!!! And a massive thank you for sharing…I have been following you for sometime too… I am 40 and the same journey you started 5 years ago starts for me this October…

    All the best!

    1. Thank you Africa Bocos! 40 is young! I’m so excited for you starting the same journey, please step back to enjoy it every once in a while and don’t neglect friends and family. Despite the hard work and stress it seems to pass by in an instant. I wish you all the best of luck.

  3. Congratulations!! What a relief it must be and well deserved – while also following your journey I’ve also made it to medical school at the age of 36 starting this September 🙂 I can’t wait and your blog has been a lovely reference of how it can all be done – thank you for all your posts! All the best in the future (I would love it if you could keep up the blog / make a new one for your future path ahead it’s so nice to feel “not alone”) 🙂 x x x

    1. Thank you! I am honestly so relieved yes! Congratulations into getting into medical school which I felt was one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. You’re definitely not alone, when I started this blog I felt I was in a tiny minority (and we are) but there seems to be plenty of mature medical students out there and you can always contact me here! All the best of luck to you on your new journey.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your journey… and congratulations! You should feel immensely proud of everything you’ve done and have achieved. I’ve been inspired with every post I’ve read amd wish you the very best for the chapters ahead.

  5. Thank you for sharing your experience. I have just turned 40 and have an opportunity to start studying medicine next year January. The decision is huge for me. Any advice you are willing to share?

    1. Hi Heinrich! Congratulations on the opportunity! It is definitely a huge decision as you say and it is not the right thing for everyone. It depends on your circumstances but your finances, personal life and even your ego may take a beating. To get a better idea about what it will be like I would try to talk to as many other latecomers to medicine as possible and even try to shadow some mature medical students and junior doctors who entered medicine later in life. Are there any particular areas in which you need advice on?

      1. Thank you for taking the time to reply, I know that you have actually concluded your blog. Your comments are spot on, I am currently in a well paying job, and have a wife with two very small children. I battle to justify my seemingly selfish decision to give up this apparent stability for my dream, and take them out of their comfort zone as well. How did you reach the decision to take this leap knowing that you are possibly leaving some of this stability behind.

        Just a few notes of interest: I am writing to you from South Africa, as mention already I just turned 40. I have a PhD in physiology and have a chance to enter one of the best local universities through their 4 year graduate entry medical programme.

        Thanks again for your time.

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