On Saturday the 12th of December 2015 I embarked on the 4 day experience of a lifetime, I had heard from others about how beneficial Medlink Campus is but this was the time for me to experience it for myself. I must express that it was truly life changing event in many ways. For instance I was able to have a short preview of University life at Nottingham by attending very extensive lectures and the information I gained from which shall go a very long way in my medical career. Including some stimulating late night debate sessions that brought up some intriguing and challenging subjects. In addition to this I was able to meet a plethora of exciting, interesting and likeminded people all determined to succeed in medicine and engage in meaningful discussions each day. It must also be said that the friends that I made during these four days have become some of the closest friends I have and I think we will continue to support each other in the path to medicine.
On the day of arrival, after all the formalities had been completed, we attended the initial lectures that describe the different types of medicine that we could choose to enter. For example paediatric medicine or surgery, delivered by distinguished medical professionals. The key information I gained from these is that this paediatric medicine is intellectually challenging and demanding as it can be quite family orientated and a lot of skill is required to communicate with frightened parents as well as having the ability to connect with children. There is such a variety in the types of speciality of paediatrics and the role of the doctor is not only that during the appointment but they must always have the child’s best interest at heart. The lecturer stated that it is a privilege to work alongside the families, the rewards are very real and that no two days are the same in this exciting environment.
The following lecture detailed the applications and training for a career in surgery. It was extremely interesting to hear the lecturer’s point of view of the surgical profession. She provided us with an important and influential quote from Confucius that states to “choose the right profession, you won’t work a single day”. Following this we were given some extremely valuable advice about medicine and social media from an immensely exciting and engaging speaker. In a world in which technology is becoming ubiquitous, we future doctors must be aware of our social profile and the potential services we can provide to others.
Following this, we were all involved in a group discussion and this lead to an intriguing debate in which we learned to question all aspects of ethical situations and develop our opinions and understand different views.
On the second day, we were provided with information about foreign university opportunities from a surgeon at the Humanitas University, Milan. This was very eye opening to be exposed to the possibilities of medicine outside of the UK.
Moreover, a crucial section of succeeding in University application to medicine is having the knowledge and capacity to achieve highly in the interviews. As a result I found the interview workshops very informative as I had realised many things about the process that I had not known previously such as the types of interview and how they differ. Some of the advice from this includes being able to use the interview as an opportunity to decide if the medical school is actually for you. It is always essential to show curiosity and have questions prepared for the interviewer. The most important thing is to be ourselves and say what we honestly believe rather than what we think the interviewer wants us to say. We then experienced a live interview, what not to do and a question and answer portion to clarify any of our doubts.
Subsequently we had the Clinical skills section of the day. We separated into our small groups to have an auscultation session, ophthalmology and patient clinic. Auscultation provided us with an insight into how to use basic instruments such as the ophthalmoscope, the otoscope and the stethoscope with our peers. We learned some of the sounds, features to recognise when giving an examination and I left this session very excited to use my stethoscope more often! The patient clinic was somewhat challenging, despite having studied the information given beforehand, trying to deduce the condition of the patient by knowing how to ask the right questions while retaining some of the patient’s relevant history to reach a conclusive diagnosis was not particularly simple.
Following this we had an interview workshop, which highlighted how we can aim to perform our best to leave an effective impression. Something that remains with me now is that we must have a realistic idea of Medicine and what we intend to pursue in the future. Moreover we shouldn’t display any prejudice or unethical views towards the topics covered and it is advised that we can think clearly around the tasks given. This advanced into the Multiple Mini Interview practical in which we were placed in small groups to work together in answering some possible questions while feeding back to the larger group.
The later lectures informed us about general practice, the UKCAT update, medical school admissions, studying abroad and an animated talk about prehospital care given by an RAF Medical officer.
Once all lectures and debate sessions had finished, our hall had an open common room and mix evening to allow us to talk with many new people and have quite profound and interesting conversations.
This was the Exhibition day. A unique opportunity to ask the fundamental questions to a myriad of medical universities both international and those in the UK. Many universities have different methods of teaching the Medicine course and each one has its own character which is important to note. When we eventually decide on the university we wish to apply to we need to be sure what the University has to offer, whether the curriculum is suitable for us and if the admissions guidelines are appropriate for our abilities as individual applicants.
During the evening I was able to secure an opportunity to have a mock MMI interview. In my experience I had very positive feedback from my interviewer, I attempted to calm my nerves and use the advice given from the previous day as much as I could. I was enthusiastic and the interviewer said that he became more interested as a result. In reflection, I feel that I could have improved it by speaking a little slower and this may have given me more time to craft my sentences effectively and speak more clearly.
We then began the Pathology section later that evening by some talks about Cancer diagnosis and treatment. The specific details and statistics from this talk reinforced some knowledge I had about cancer, although hearing the views of a doctor who had dealt with many cases brought the facts into a reality of the difficulties they face. Though the treatments available, may be slightly intrusive and challenging, the medical professionals find it gratifying to aid others and remain on the cutting edge of scientific research.
Later we were introduced to the careers and opportunities in pathology, by exploring microbiology and bioterrorism and the history of biological weapons and the measures being taken to protect the population against this.
The last day was focussed on gaining an understanding of the different components of Pathology.
The Autopsy lecture informed us that the reason people carry out autopsies is to confirm the presence and nature of a disease and to ascertain the cause of death and create health statistics and epidemiological data. We were introduced briefly to what an external and internal examination entails and the benefits that an autopsy has for society and many of the people involved in the case. This lead to the extremely interesting talk on forensic pathology and the requirement for combined disciplines such as radiologists, toxicologists, neuropathologists, microbiologists and even archaeologists. The final lecture explained the nature of the Haematology profession and how it can be an integral part of diagnosis and treatment of a variety of diseases. Although they may face certain ethical complications, for instance in the case of stem cell therapy or bone marrow transplants, it is very interesting to find out more about a vital function of the fascinating human body. I was also pleased that the lecturers were open to questions following each session, in this way we were able to gather more of an insight into the work they are involved in.
One of the many advantages of attending Medlink is that we have the chance to undertake a research project related to Genetic Engineering. This aims to extend and develop our A level studies and allows us to reach beyond the confines of exam syllabuses. We effectively need to choose an area of genetic engineering, carry out some extensive research and possibly design some experiments for a GMO. Then eventually write a short scientific paper exploring the factors we are most interested in. I am personally very excited about delving into this area of science!
Overall, these few days were immensely informative and motivating, I now think I am better equipped to apply for a Medical degree. I left Medlink having gained a lot of knowledge into the application process, the vast number of specialties I could enter and the many ways in which I can broaden my skills and interests. I am now feeling more positive and confident about Medicine as a career for me and I am keen to see what the future holds. If you ever have the opportunity to attend any of the Medlink conferences I definitely recommend you do!