Man and disease have a constantly evolving relationship that dates back to the origin of our species. A doctor’s role has similarly progressed not only combining the continuous development of scientific knowledge of human physiology and the science of how to treat disease but also with an ability to empathise and be able to genuinely care for their patients. The challenge of a medical career as well as the ability to make a positive impact on multiple lives and achieving a sense of fulfilment stems my desire to study medicine.
During work experience, the highlight was the weekly multidisciplinary team meetings to review patients and put forward suggestions for collaborative care. The constant exchanging of thoughts and ideas with one another was fascinating but also highlighted the necessity of teamwork in medicine. It also showcased to how doctors of different specialities are able to pool experience and knowledge to provide the best possible care which, without the imperative role of nurses, physiotherapists and social workers would be impossible. I admired this skill as playing guitar in a band means learning to listening to peers and understanding how combining our individual skills to create something much better. Also shadowing neurosurgeons on a ward round, I understood the idea behind personalised medicine and how it affects the treatment plan of patient as different operations are used in different scenarios.
Volunteering at a retirement home specialising in dementia for over a year has been a tough experience. It was also a place of responsibility for me as I had to gain a lot of trust in a very small amount of time as my work involved feeding and assisting the less mobile residents. It allowed me to develop my ability to empathise because I found that it’s a large part palliative care. It is sitting down with someone – taking five minutes to listen to their story or playing catch or even helping some of the residents tend to their plants; which really makes a difference. It highlighted how a patient was not just a constellation of symptoms, and just treating those would not make a patient feel better. The importance of this was highlighted during clinic with as stroke consultant when he had to fully understand the biopsychosocial make up of a patient in order to fully provide for their recuperation.
Being interested in medicine meant that I was keen to do a lot of reading outside of the curriculum of my A-levels. In Biology, I really enjoyed learning about pathology. This has encouraged me to research the occurrence and pathogenesis of the Ebola virus in parts of western Africa. I partook in an online course on the subject as part of an independent research project. The course allowed me to assess and improve my ability on learning independently which has helped me prepare for university education which requires independent work. Also, my work experience in neurosurgery interested me in the many different surgeries that can occur on the brain. To learn more, I read the book ‘Do no harm – stories of life and death’ by Henry Marsh which I found to be very insightful for not only neurosurgery but the daily struggles that are associated with a medical career.
Taking part in the silver Duke of Edinburgh award has encouraged the development of my character as well as nurturing my ability to work under pressure and problem solve. For example, during the expedition, a few mistakes were made, which required fast decisions to get back to the track. I managed to design a new route resulting in the team succeeding in the challenge. Furthermore, I am the captain of my school’s badminton team and playing in a club. Being a captain has been a challenge, due to periods of stress that I had to effectively manage whilst demonstrating leadership; these skills were vital for the neurologist I shadowed. I would also love to continue playing badminton at university. I know that part of being a doctor is the constant lifelong learning and desire to improve. I think this is reflected in my swimming, which I do privately. I find it helps me relax and also a place where I can push myself to make sure I am doing the best that I can.
What with the seven-day NHS, junior doctors’ contracts and all sorts of technical advancements - the landscape of healthcare is changing. The next generation of doctors are the ones who will have to manage this and make sure whatever happens; the patients do not suffer. A doctor’s role has always been so encompassing involving curiosity, hard work and above all sheer determination. Whether it be soldiering on long past typical social hours or the any of the other drawbacks of a medical career - I know that I am determined to be the best doctor that I possibly can.
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