You may remember how this blog page first began…
‘Medicine and Me’
‘Anatomy of Antonia’
‘The Making of a Medic’
The stories of each of us admins and why we decided that medicine is what we wanted to do. The decision may have been a lifelong wish for some, it may have been an epiphany for others, or it may even be an uncertain one still. There’s such a big difference between a child saying ‘I want to be a doctor!’ compared to ‘I want to do medicine!’ – it takes a certain spark and a certain energy to say ‘I want to do medicine’. Knowing you want to do medicine, is knowing what the course entails, the work you need to put yourself through to get there and knowing what a doctor actually does.
A-levels have been a struggle, not only for me but for everyone. There are many people who want to take medicine but are trying to think of other options to fall onto if they do not get into medicine. I believe that if medicine is your passion – if becoming a doctor is your passion – then do not feel disheartened, lift yourself up, and realise there are many ways to get into medicine.
Recently I went through work experience in my local hospital (Luton & Dunstable Hospital) with the orthopaedic department. I came with a feeling of uncertainty, yet I was excited at the same time. If you can remember my first blog, you’ll know that I am someone who was surrounded by the medical field, I was a weird child who was so interested in medicine that instead of normal online games a child would play, I ‘played’ the edheads surgery simulations! So it was hard for me when I started questioning my abilities and thinking: ‘Will I even get into medical school?’. That thought gives a horrible feeling to someone like me who has had the dream to be a doctor from a young age.
On my first day of work experience, I was surrounded by junior doctors in the wards. One word to summarise that experience: CHAOS. We walked, we ran, we were as fast as could be, rushing through patients, rushing through files, rushing through paperwork… It was a side of being a doctor I didn’t think about. I always saw being a doctor as something where everything you do fulfills you; everything you do makes you feel a sense of satisfaction; everything you do, in spite of all the hard work, pays you back. Not only did I see it as a job where you can help people and create an impact and difference in the world, I also saw it as a job where I could make my parents proud, I could be the child that parents tell everyone about, and not only that, but it’s a job that could make me money so I’m able to give back to my parents and live a good life. Seeing this side, and the stress the junior doctors were in, was a whole other side of being a doctor I had not thought of. Speaking to them almost brought my spirits down! They said that medical school was lovely, but the job itself is difficult. Some of them straight up said ‘DO NOT DO IT!’, some said that it was too hard and stressful, some believed that it just altogether wasn’t worth it. Other than that, there was also advice that I took close to me: being a doctor is something that you need to have true passion for – you can only do it if you really, truly love it; before you go into it, you just need to know that it is what you want for sure. One junior doctor even recommended taking a gap year.
After this hectic first day, I thought to myself: am I cut out to be a doctor? Is this endless stress really what I want? Is being a doctor actually what I thought it would be? I know for a fact that I want to be in the medical field – I want to make an impact on other people’s lives and help the world be a better place. But there are more ways of doing that than becoming a doctor. I contemplated and my mind ran away from medicine. I could be a nurse. I could be a dentist. There are many things out there which give the care-based work that I want to do. I decided, maybe this year, I’ll just apply for biomedical science and nursing, that way I won’t need to take medicine, and if I feel unfulfilled with what I am doing (which I was adamant I wouldn’t, especially that nurses have such a huge, vital role in the care of patients) I could take an accelerated course in medicine in the future. It was either that, or take a gap year to really experience what working in the medical field is like by applying to be a HCA (healthcare assistant) in my local hospital which would also build my personal statement as well as give me time to think and decide what I want to do for the rest of my life!
The next two days of work experience, we worked with on-call doctors, as well as a consultant. They were doing admin work, lots and lots of admin work. Then once they were called, they would head down to A&E and help out. I saw an NOF case (neck of femur). This means that the patient had fractured their neck of femur. We watched a team of paramedics administer a splint for pain relief. The doctor informed us about how the femur would be operated on to fix it, he also showed us the resuscitation forms which were forms to be signed and decide whether or not the patient would want to be resuscitated in case of cardiac arrest. It was an emotional conversation to have with the patient’s family member who was present. The doctor remained professional and understanding at the same time. NOF cases are considered urgent, yet when I was in trauma meetings every morning and doing ward rounds on my third day of work experience, they seemed very common in elderly patients. One of the things we were told by one doctor really stuck to me: ‘to you, it might be something you see every day – a small matter – but to them, it is the biggest, most important thing going on in their lives’. This applied to everything, from something like osteoarthritis (which was literally a case I’d see every day since I was working with the orthopaedic department) to an NOF case. The doctor I worked with on ward round on my third day of work experience explained to us the importance of patient experience. This side of being a doctor was the side that I was interested in: the whole care-based part of being a doctor – getting to know your patients, building a bond and helping to make a difference in their lives. I love to learn, I love the rush from the intensity of the job as a doctor, I would love to be able to use my knowledge, passion, and emotion to make a difference in the lives of many. This side of being a doctor was the sense of fulfillment I truly wanted to get into medicine for. Was I really going to throw away medicine, throw away being a doctor, throw away my biggest dream?
Medicine is a scary thing.
I find myself running back and forth. I’m going to be a doctor. I’m going to be a nurse. I’m going to be a psychologist. I’m going to be a doctor.
During work experience, I was able to really look at myself and ask myself if this was really what I wanted to do. Consultants would tell me that even after finishing medical school, you are constantly learning and learning – you have to keep going for years onwards before you can be a consultant. I thought to myself, ‘will it be worth it?’, ‘is being a doctor what I really want to do?’, ‘am I even capable of becoming a doctor?’.
L&D hospital is a source of inspiration for my biggest goals and aspirations since I was always surrounded by people in the medical field thanks to my mum. I can now proudly say that going through work experience in L&D hospital is also the very reason I know I do not want to give up on becoming a doctor. I will apply to medicine for university. Whether or not I get in is another story. I had the privilege of working with a passionate medical student, he himself went to the same sixth form that I do, and he was also rejected from medicine in the UK. He did not let that stop him. He knew that medicine was his passion. Being a doctor is what he wanted to do. He followed his dreams all the way to Bulgaria. Yes, he gets it all the time: ‘Bulgaria? Why Bulgaria?’. Well, there he was able to get into university to study medicine through an entrance exam. He said that if you are passionate about medicine and it what you want to do, then do it.
There are many routes into medicine, and if you feel like you are not capable, pick yourself up and tell yourself that you are. Medicine comes with hard work and dedication – all you need is your very best. If medicine is truly what you want to do, if being a doctor is truly what you want to do, then do it – reach for it. There are many ways around it. You can take a foundation year. You can take another degree and then an accelerated course in medicine. You can even take a gap year to really think about it!
I asked an orthopaedic registrar for advice on this whole topic, and here is what he said:
No probs, hope you are well and good luck with your application to medicine. In my A-Levels, although I got 3 As and a B, I wouldn’t worry at all. There are so many routes into medicine and in fact, some routes are exactly the same as getting into medicine right away. Firstly The requirements are not 3 As. Secondly doing Biomedical sciences first then medicine is perfectly reasonable and in fact maybe better in the long run. Doing Biomedical sciences first will give you a chance to do research and publish which is desirable when it comes to applying for specialty training later on. It also gives you an added degree which also looks good on the CV. Many of my friends have done Biomed first and have done really well!
Extra-curricular things I did and would recommend are volunteering in a care home or nursing home and doing work experience in a hospital. I chose medicine genuinely because I would like to make a difference to people’s lives and because I enjoy the science behind it. It gives me a chance to do humanitarian work as well in poorer countries. Let me know if you need anything else and good luck!
I know I am not the only one who has had these mixed emotions with medicine. It is a course you have to be sure about, and rightly so! So, it would be unfair for me to be the only one who poured my heart out for the blog page! I asked our other two admins (Bernice Mangundu and Muskaan Jonathan) to say what they had to say about their journey to medicine…
‘The journey to medicine has not been easy. I have had doubts about whether this has been the right path for me. It is.
There is no other profession quite like medicine. The ability to help save the life of others is a powerful thing. It will not be easy to go into medicine. The job is difficult and the hours are long, however, the positive impact I will make on other people’s lives will be worth the effort. It is a scary thought that the life of others may literally be in my hands but I know I will do everything in my power to ensure that they will be safe hands.
To be a part of the NHS family will be an honour. I am willing to fight for the NHS. For 70 years they have been helping to save and improve the lives of millions of people. They are a group of hardworking, caring people and I would be proud to a part of them. To lose it would be a tragedy for this country.
‘It has been a difficult journey for me to decide to do medicine. I know how much work it is, but don’t know how it feels to go through that grueling process, so fear of the unknown has made me very conflicted. One minute I want to do medicine, but the next, it scares me so much that I go running in the opposite direction. But if not medicine, then what? I have looked for experience in so many different areas, and none of them have inspired me, moved me and satisfied me as much as medicine. There are days when I ask myself if I am crazy to be signing myself up for such a lifestyle, but then I remember the hope that I will be spreading and the comfort that I might provide for someone who is feeling vulnerable.
Why do you want to do medicine? It is a difficult question to answer: I have so much to say but at the same time, I have nothing to say—it just feels right. Obviously, I can’t say that in my interviews for medical school or in my personal statement. That is when I have too much to say. I just finished writing a first draft of my personal statement, and the process was torturous. I had to cut at least 7 paragraphs which say why medicine is suited to me (trust me, it was like taking a knife to the soul). But no matter how exhausting the process is, all I can do is have faith in myself that in the future, I will make a good enough doctor to make a small, or big difference to someone’s life and make them a happier person.
This was a LONG post! But it had a whole journey and a half! I still have a long way to go, and who knows! My mind might change again! I doubt it will now, however; taking medicine, being a doctor, making a difference in the world has been my dream from such a young age. I’m not willing to throw it away now, and I am determined to do everything I can so that one day I will be a doctor.
Antonia Marie Jayme