GEMP: Feedback from Department

So some quick feedback from Wits regarding the applications for GEMP 2019. The places are indeed severely restricted for next years placement – they are looking initially at accepting around 75 students only, with the slight possibility of pushing that closer to 90-100 depending on supplementary results coming in toward the end of this week.

The cut-off composite index (CI) for this year is higher than last – 78% for Wits students and graduates, and 80% for external applicants. The biographical questionnaires have not yet been taken into account, but the department is meeting either later this week or early next week to discuss how this may or may not be utilized this year. Other aspects may be taken into account if CI’s are close enough to the cut-off, such as the questionnaire and application history.

Decisions should be made by the end of next week; if we do not receive notification by then (due to the possibility of adding more spaces), we should be notified in the first week of January as the department takes leave for the Christmas break.

Good luck to everyone – please update us with your application progress!


Stellenbosch Med School: Motivational Letter

As per a request from one of the readers of the blog, and in keeping with the transparency of my medical school applications I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve decided to include a copy of the motivational letter I submitted to Stellenbosch University as part of my medical school application this year.

As mentioned in a previous post on how to approach a motivational letter (see here), they are personal and subjective and thus there is no one right way in which to write one. I actually had  few different versions of my letter depending on which program I’d be applying for, where the focus would change slightly depending on the overall application for that institution.

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My GEMP 2018 Application

In applying for medical school here in South Africa (and I suppose globally as well, really), the number of applicants for any given program always outweigh the number of places on offer – by a significant stretch! The available places are incredibly competitive, and there is always massive debate on what constitutes a great application. Academics? Volunteering? Shadowing? Work experience? Achievements? Research acumen?

For instance, in looking at the Wits University website and the requirements for being considered for a spot in the Graduate Entry Medical Program (GEMP), an average of “at least 60% over the final two completed years” of your degree is necessary. In reality, this is a long way off of the actual academic entry-level for consideration – the high 70’s and early 80’s is essentially the cut-off limit each year. You may have met the requirements, but your application may never be considered.


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GEMP Update…?

Here is an update on my Wits GEMP application:


Just kidding. The update is that there is NO update! Months upon months of waiting for a change in application status. Hundreds of times of opening the student portal with thinly-veiled hope. Hundreds of times of disappointment and frustration in seeing no change. Zero. Niks nie. Nada. Dololo.


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Starting a YouTube Channel?


If ever I have any free time these days, I literally don’t know what to do with myself! I drive myself crazy because years of waking up early and spending the whole day working has conditioned me to always feel like I should be (or need to be!) doing something. I can’t sit still. I can’t relax. I can’t stay at home the whole day and just lounge around. 

I anticipate December is going to be interesting after the first week or so, because for the first time in almost a decade I don’t have any check-lists of projects to complete or meetings to prepare for. The constant checking of the Wits student portal is becoming a compulsion that gets worse without distraction.  

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Not Just Med School: Meaning and Mortality Musings

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if others think about it too, but I often find myself wondering about death and mortality. I know that sounds morbid and depressing, but it’s something I’m acutely aware of on a daily basis. It is our reality. It is inescapable.

A confluence of events in my late teenage years threw open my mind to the stark possibility that each new day brings with it the possibility that it may be our last on this earth.

“At the end of the day you’re another day older; one day closer to dying”

― Les Miserables

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Resigning from Work

I started working at my current job on 10 November 2010. Today I handed in my resignation letter, and my last day of work will be 30 November 2018. Eight frikkin’ years! I am a contradiction of emotions at the moment; part of me feels incredibly relieved and like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Another part feels absolutely terrified, because this job has provided refuge for the last 8 years and has allowed me to survive and put food on the table every month.

One of the things my dad has always said to me over the past few years of trying to get into medical school, is that money is a great motivator and great distraction – once you have it, it is incredibly difficult to give it up and to sacrifice comforts in the pursuit of passion. I’ve always felt like I would give up my salary (and associated comforts) without hesitation if medical school ever came calling.


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