Monthly Archives: March 2017

RSM Medical Careers Day

Last week, I alongside many other aspiring medics spent the day at Oakham School, for a ‘medicine day’ offered by the Royal Society of Medicine. It was an incredibly interesting day, and shed light on the application process and specialisms. Being a doctor is an incredibly varied role, and I love the potential that there is to choose a career which definitely suits you. However, it is easy for anyone to find out about the application process, course structures and entry grades, so I wanted to take some time to reflect on the medical professionals who gave their time to speak to us about their careers during the day. Two of which were presentations which particularly stuck with me, and another a comforting realisation.

The Trainee Years – Dr Brinda Christopher 

Dr Brinda Christopher is the president of the Sports and Exercise Medicine section of the RSM, and currently works for Tottenham football club. Admittedly, I have never particularly considered the role of doctors in this environment – thinking that the players would always turn to a physiotherapist. However, I found it explained to be an interesting field of medicine – and an uplifting one. Dr Christopher mentioned that a part of her choice of specialism was due to the unlikelihood of encountering death, as she herself finds it difficult to deal with. This has opened up my eyes to other aspects of medicine, where I have previously thought that dealing with death is something with is inevitably common as a Doctor. This shows that medicine can really be chosen to suit you, and hugely warped around your personality and what you want to do.

The road to being a doctor, is undoubtedly a long and winding long. Five or six years at med school, two foundation years, specialist training and a LOT of exams. However, I have no concern about whether or not it is worth it – it is an incredibly interesting, rewarding and important career, and the process is fitting considering as a doctor, you never stop learning. I learnt a lot from this talk about the stresses associated with being a Doctor, that many of these come from dealing with a huge system and not particularly the patients themselves. There are always quotas and deadlines to meet, making a hospital environment a fast moving one. It was emphasised during this talk, that being a doctor is not a career, but a lifestyle choice. While this is something I have witnessed first hand, it was not something which, before now, I had considered. Perhaps because I have taken it in my stride as an expected part of the job, but something I thought well worth mentioning.

Dr Christopher’s talk opened my eyes up to a field of medicine I was not previously aware of, and has encouraged me to take a look into what other specialisms which I am unaware of, are available. However, it was also an honest talk, the pros of being a doctor were equally weighted with the cons – moving around a lot, dealing with death, bullying in medicine and the stresses of the job. This appealed to be as I did not feel like I was looking onto the profession through rose-tinted glasses, and that some of the realities of being a doctor were brought to my attention.

So You Want to Be a GP – Dr Mohammed Saqib Anwar 

I had never even considered a career as a GP before this talk, I was convinced there would be little variety and an extortionate amount of time-wasting patients. However, this talk proved to me how a GP is often the first point of contact of the NHS. The first time a patient brings their potential illness to the attention of a medical professional, and that it is not only physical illnesses GP’s have to worry about it. Any doctor has a duty of care, and this extends far beyond diagnosis – it is incredibly hard for a patient to confide in you, if you are not approachable or have not build a rapport with them. Working in the medical profession is not about preventing death, it is about improving quality of life and providing standardised care to everyone. Those who repeatedly ‘waste time’ through appointments are not actually wasting time, as they are concerned about their health – the one time you turn them away, they may actually have fallen ill.

Being a General Practitioner is not a boring job, variety is encountered through clinics everyday. Although, the opportunity for other roles was highlighted to me throughout this day. Dr Saqib Anwar has a huge roles in media management, is faculty chair at the Royal College of General Practitioners and a primary care adviser for Care Quality Commission. When giving us a run through of his last two days, it included press releases, meetings and clinics – showing the life of a GP to be much more interesting than I initially thought. These two speakers were incredible, and gave a thoughtful insight into life as a doctor is two very different roles. My eyes have certainly been opened up to the prospect of different specialisms – even though it is years away.

The last speaker I would like to mention however, is a F2 student. Medicine is competitive, and not everyone gets in first time around, however this speech demonstrated to me that if it is truly what you want to do, there is more than one pathway into life as a doctor. This junior doctor was one of those people, and went on to do a biomedical sciences degree. After these three years, he gained a place on a graduates course – and from what I could see, hasn’t looked back since. So as a final message, don’t give up. Getting into med school is tough and challenging and just because you don’t achieve it first time around, doesn’t mean that you won’t make an excellent doctor.

This was only a small aspect of the day, but these talks definitely opened my eyes up to the endless possibilities within medicine. The day itself, was another affirmation that this is what I want to do, and worth the hard work. I learnt not only about the variety of life as a doctor, but left with some negatives to consider and a yearning for the next eighteen months to hurry up, so hopefully I can start med school!

Sources: RSM Medical Careers Day [23.03.17]

Rat Dissection

This week, as part of our biology AS I dissected a rat. As someone who is vegan, this was morally quite difficult for me, however once I had overcome my initial emotions, I learnt a lot from the practical – both about anatomy and ethics.

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I found it incredibly interesting to look at the ratio of the length of the rat and its small intestine, which was easily 2 if not 3 times longer than the rat itself. We focused initially on the digestive system, locating the stomach, ileum and large intestine. This was incredibly useful in realising what we have learnt about the surface area and ‘coiling’ of the small intestine, and how this helps absorption. What was also particularly apparent was how large the liver of a rat is, while not surprising due to its vast number of functions such as deamination, it was by far the largest organ inside the rat.

I then went on to dissect the chest cavity of the rat, removing its ribs using sharp scissors and a blunt nosed seeker. I was surprised with the positioning of the lobed lungs, as I found a particularly large right lung but a  considerably smaller left lung. However, this makes a lot of sense as the heart is slightly angled towards the left hand side of the rat, and the left side of the heart is larger than the right – therefore a smaller lung compensates for the larger side of the heart.

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I drew a scientific drawing of the chest cavity of my rat (left), representing what I could see in the clearest way possible. This was a good opportunity to practice this skill, however the dissection skills I learnt were of much more importance. The significance of making a clean incision and angling your scissors up, to keep the insides intact, but as I progressed through the dissection I also found I was picking up the right tools more frequently – those which would do the least damage to the organs.

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While I can’t say I’m an aspiring surgeon, this was an incredibly interesting experience and a huge personal achievement. I do believe that I would find operating on a human, who could consent, much less morally conflicting, than on an animal bred for dissection. Although, this experience has allowed me to partake in something I may find hard to agree with, it has taught me to put my feelings aside to do what is important (in this case, for my learning). This is something which applies easily to a medical professional, and a realisation I will take with me into my future career.

(I hope no-one is offended by these photos, and if you’d rather me take them down please don’t hesitate to leave a comment)

Marie Curie

Recently, as I’ve walked through my town and through London, I’ve seen several people selling yellow daffodils – a symbol for the Marie Curie charity. I thought I’d take a look at what it is they do, the support they provide and how such a phenomenal charity has influenced lives.

The Marie Curie charity logo.
The Marie Curie charity logo.

Marie Curie is a charity which is committed to providing care to everyone based on need, without taking into account their diagnosis [1]. They pride themselves in helping terminally ill people stay at home until the end of their lives, making the process more comfortable for many. They work with hospices, charities and the NHS, reducing the need for emergency hospitalisation and while most importantly benefitting people, they also help to cut hospital costs [1].

The research which Marie Curie undertakes focuses on finding the best ways possible of caring for terminally ill people, and improving their quality of life. This is a goal proven to be increasingly achieved as 99% of patients rated their overall experience as good or very good and 96% said they were involved by the staff as much as they wanted in decisions about their care [1].

Charities such as Marie Curie are so important in caring for terminally ill people, and relieving the NHS of some demand. When one of my best friends mum was being treated for cancer, she had a Macmillan nurse and I know that she supported them all through the process. It is integral to remember that these charities run on donations, and the care they can provide depends on the money donated. Without these funds they cannot function, so it is not enough to just admire a charities work, but important to support it too. They are great for offering help to everyone possible, regardless of age, income, or any other factor. While before I have realised how important these charities are in providing care for many terminally ill people, I did not previously consider the benefits provided to our healthcare system. Next time you see a donation box, please be sure to spare your loose change.

[1] https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/who/our-history [accessed on 12/03/17]