by David Brill
SUCCESSFUL APPLICANT TO ST GEORGE'S, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, 2014-2018
I am currently clinical news editor of Australian Doctor, the leading magazine for Australia’s 25,000 general practitioners. My job is to find the latest research and put it into context. This combines my strong science background with a limitless fascination for medicine. Like today’s doctor, I must constantly appraise emerging evidence, from case reports to Cochrane reviews, and relate it to clinical practice.
I’ve written over a thousand articles in my career, including for the British Medical Journal, Lancet and Nature, and been shortlisted for two of Australia’s top journalism awards. I’ve attended prestigious international conferences such as the European Society of Cardiology 2013 and American Diabetes Association 2012 – reporting on everything from clinical trials of cardiac stents to debates on the spiralling cost of healthcare. But as my academic understanding has grown, I’ve become increasingly aware of what I’m missing: the opportunity to apply this knowledge to curing illness and alleviating people’s suffering. This is the true goal of medicine; it excites me enormously, and recent work experience has only galvanised my desire to be practising this myself.
A highlight was shadowing a respiratory registrar during bronchoscopy at London’s Royal Free Hospital. I was struck by how well he articulated the procedure’s risks and benefits to each patient in a kind, reassuring way, despite a heavy workload. The case mix was varied and interesting: most memorably a long and gruelling procedure on a heavily sedated patient, involving nurses, intensivists and anaesthetists. This showed me how, even under huge pressure, different specialties pull together to keep the patient as the focus of care.
Shadowing a GP in Sydney has deepened my appreciation of primary care and the role of holistic, preventative medicine. The chance to build lasting therapeutic relationships looks every bit as rewarding as hospital medicine. This has been reinforced by my Saturday volunteer work at an old age home, getting to know the residents and assisting them with everyday tasks. Here, patience, respect and a kind smile can go a long way to easing people’s problems.
Medicine demands communication skills and an ability to gain trust – particular strengths of mine as a journalist. Last week I covered an especially complex story about the sudden sacking of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ ethics committee. This involved asking probing questions, listening carefully, maintaining confidentiality, distilling key facts and reaching a logical conclusion, explained succinctly in plain English. My work experience has taught me these exact skills are required for taking a history and making a diagnosis.
A good doctor should also be professional, innovative, a leader and a team player. I have demonstrated these qualities at Australian Doctor by working across a large editorial team, mentoring junior colleagues, running regular training sessions and driving our adaptation from print to online. I am also adept at using social media – an increasingly vital tool for medical education. I never shy away from learning new skills: in the past two years I’ve completed management training and taken up shorthand, photography and tennis.
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