When retaking the year, you’re told so many times that retaking isn’t the end of the world. You’re told that some famous Professor failed a year of med school, that a lovely GP they know failed a year of med school and look at them now, and so on.

None of that tallies with the sense of shame you feel as a student. As high-achieving, goal-focused students, failing is seen as the worst possible outcome, and leads to some of us concealing this fact, withdrawing from our peers, and generally not getting as much support as we could be when struggling with an undeniably difficult and intensive course.

Partly to make my life easier, and partly to help break this stigma, I was very open as a medical student about failing and needing to re-take Final Year.

As a Doctor, I have chosen not to openly disclose this immediately. I did not know how my colleagues would react, and wanted to make a good impression. (As it happens I did almost immediately tell a fellow KCL graduate, as well as tearfully telling my fellow ward F1 during a stressful moment in the first week! Neither of these people have acted any differently toward me.)

I disclosed my re-sitter status on my Transfer of Information form, which went to the Deanery/Hospital, but was not called in for any special meetings.

I told my Educational Supervisor, who said jovially “we forgive your past mistakes” or something along those lines, and never mentioned it again.

Recently, about 7 months in, I told my Clinical Supervisor, who simply said “well no-one would guess that” which was reassuring that I am doing well!

Finally I ended up telling someone that I didn’t particularly want to- a Doctor who had been my F2 during my first round of Final Year. I knew if she saw me as an F1 she would realise the maths didn’t add up… I confess I didn’t rush over to say hello, knowing I would out myself pretty quickly. Eventually I ended up eating lunch with her, and that’s exactly what happened- she asked if I was an F2 and then asked if I’d had a year out, so I explained I’d had to retake the year:

“Oh” she said.

“That’s annoying that you had to retake the whole year rather than just the exams.”

Then we talked about what she was doing.

It’s been 8 months now and I can honestly say retaking the year has NO EFFECT on how people react to me in my career. They judge me on my performance now. That is all.

Maybe medical students can take an example from this and be nicer to their struggling colleagues… And re-sitters can stop beating themselves up!


Header image used on licence from Shutterstock

Medical Exam Prep would like to thank Dr. Kingsmedstudent for contributing this blog post

About Dr. Kingsmedstudent
‘Dr kingsmedstudent’ studied at KCL for 7 years before finally graduating and now works as a Junior Doctor in East London. She’s in her mid-twenties, a feminist, a sex educator, sometimes described as “alternative”, and a firm follower of Social Media. Her proudest achievement to date is winning a prize for her eportfolio.