Hattie, a second year graduate medic, shares her inspiring journey since leaving school

I left school in 2015 and started studying Biochemistry at The University of Bristol. A couple of years previously I’d considered studying medicine but didn’t have the work experience and wasn’t 100% sure that it was what I wanted to do. Since I loved biology and chemistry, Biochemistry was the best fit for me.

I enjoyed my time there, but whilst trying to decide what to do after graduation, the idea of medicine kept coming back. I considered law, consultancy, or research, but nothing seemed to fit. In the summer of my second year, I finally arranged work experience placements in hospitals and a GP surgery as I felt that I had to at least try to get into medical school.

The two options I had at this point were going back to undergraduate medicine, or trying for graduate medicine (a more competitive and intense course, but one which is funded by the NHS and Student Finance).

I didn’t have long before the UCAS deadline, but thought I’d apply anyway, to get a feel for the interview process - intending to complete a masters if I didn’t succeed.

Luckily I got an interview and acceptance for the Cambridge Graduate Course in Medicine (CGCM) at Lucy Cavendish at the beginning of December so the decision was made!

As the Cambridge Graduate course only takes 40 students, split between 4 colleges, we get to know each other well.  We complete 1st and 2nd year at the same time as the undergraduates, but sacrifice holidays to do 4th year clinical work. It’s intense, but the mix of clinical and pre-clinical work makes you remember why you wanted to study medicine in the first place.

Before I started medicine, I was in Cambridge working at a summer school so I took the opportunity of doing a learn-to-row course with the Lucy Cavendish College Boat Club. I completely fell in love with rowing, and trained as a novice with them in Michaelmas 2018.

This year, I became one of the lower boat captains, training up new novice rowers, and am now Co-Captain of the LCC Boat club, coxing the W1 boat and rowing when I can.

Being part of this make a huge difference to the college experience - it’s an amazing way to meet others outside of medicine, and rowing itself is the best distraction from work. Everyone’s friendly, and the coffee-fuelled early mornings really make you get to know each other!

In the wider university, I’ve played with the Philharmonic Orchestra, go to sign lessons with the Sign-language-society, and volunteer with Teddy Bear Hospital at Addenbrookes, but there is so much more I want to do when my timetable eventually allows!

Even though changing degrees and starting again felt like a huge step in the wrong direction at first, I’m constantly reminded that it’s what I want to do. I also made the decision considerably earlier than others in my year group - some have been working for years, or done PhDs, so no matter what stage you decide to change your mind you’re not alone!

Life at Cambridge is definitely different, and CGCM is a lot of pressure, but it’s also 100% worth it, and I’d definitely recommend Lucy Cavendish, (If not just for the boat club… not that I’m biased!), as its college community is really welcoming and it’s easy to find likeminded people, whoever you are and whatever your background.