UCD GEM alumni here. I wanted to chime in to say that things aren't all bad as a doctor in Ireland, and that the loan is a crippling disability that will make you want to run away to Mexico.
I'm currently an SpR, won't say where as I'd rather not be identified.
I work in a busy speciality, with an average of 60 hrs per week or so. Everyone's hours have come down since the strike, but mainly as a result of scheduling weeks of nights, etc. I don't feel that much less tired than when I worked >90, but it is better somehow.
To address a couple of points. Firstly money. It's grand. I have to pay back a minimum of 880 to AIB each month, though I'm generally paying back 1100 a month to chip away at the principal a bit more. If I stayed at 880, I would owe just under 40 grand to AIB at the end of the 10 years. It's entirely manageable, even with renting in Dublin. I'm not saving much, granted, but I still managed to get married, go on the odd holiday, and generally enjoy my life. My wife is not a medic, and earns significantly less than me, just so you don't think I'm living off her! I have fairly basic needs, but I don't feel restricted generally. I have no idea what my non-GEM colleagues spend their money on, but it must be great.
Secondly, overtime. I've had to fight for this twice so far in my career. Both times a solicitors letter from the IMO sorted everything out in under a week. There's the usual bull of "Oh you can't fight with them, you won't get a reference" but as long as you're a good doctor and colleague, your consultant will generally support you. Emphasis on good colleague though.
I love my job. I really do. That's why I can put up with the utter nonsense that comes out of the respective Royal Colleges and hospital administration. Being a doctor is not what I expected, luckily I still love what it turned out to be. I have friends who aren't so lucky, and for them it is a daily grind to clock in and clock out. General medicine is cat. I've seen some really bright people, some really good doctors, drop out and move to the "easier" specialities as a result of bad administration, etc.
I would think long and hard about becoming a doctor through GEM. Or becoming a doctor in general. Sit down with some current medics and ask them how they find it, what they like and what they do day to day. There are many whingers in medicine, those people who will tell you it is all awful. It's not. It's not great at times, and I've cried some evenings after a bad outcome, but I don't dread going into work each morning, and my job is pretty cool to describe at parties.
I've waffled quite a bit there forgive me, but I'm hungover. I'm more than happy to answer any questions regarding either GEM or the first few years as a doctor.
How did you find the UCD course and did you know any students who left Ireland to go practice in other countries?
UCD is a great college, I felt I had a good education through it. The semester system is nice as you get through something, and don't have to have to worry about it again. The clinical rotations are solid, though like any university, you only get out of it what you put in. The rotations are fairly central as well, which is good when you have to get in early. The UCD campus itself is a bit faceless though.
Plenty of people leave, roughly 50% of my intern year. UCD isn't unique in that respect. A few of my close friends are now working in the NHS and loving it. I'll probably go abroad on a fellowship in time.
Honestly, any of the colleges are good, you'll do the majority of your learning on the job as an actual doctor.
A very honest summary of what it is really like from an actual GEM graduate. Essential reading for people BEFORE considering doing the GAMSAT. Debt at Graduation of 60,000 plus interest is worrying especially as the interest rate will vary depending on the world interest rates at the time but here you have someone who has actually paid it explaining that it is liveable but not luxury. For the life of me I cannot see how anyone would get a mortgage with those debts and repayments but I stand to be corrected. Perhaps only with loans from family.
Certainly the people taking the 100,000 loans that were available at the start of graduate medicine are not coping-
People are. Not to sound like a shill for AIB, but they have been exceptionally helpful when I've engaged with them. Similarly, any of my friends from college who have actually gone in and spoke with them have said the same.
As someone who is actually paying the loan, and not reading the medical times, it is possible. As you said, not luxury.
I haven't got one personally, but it is possible, and I know people who have one.
Apologies if I sound curt, I'm post-call. GEM isn't a one-way ticket to sadness. As a happy (relatively) doctor, I can attest to that.