Off to medical school!

This summer I had a great time in Italy and Portugal, I passed my driving test first time and I was so happy to get A*A*A in my A levels. Now this Saturday I’m going to start medical school! I’m so excited and can’t believe it’s happening at last.

I’ve been very busy for the last few weeks seeing friends from Malawi who are studying over here too, going out with friends from school and getting everything I need for uni. I wish everyone lots of luck with their applications to medical school and I hope that you find this blog useful.

Last Day Living Below The Line

Today is the last day of my Live Below The Line Challenge, and I’d like to thank everyone who has sponsored me to live on £1 a day for 5 days to raise money for Malaria No More. So far I’ve raised £90 through my Live Below The Line fundraising page and Just Giving fundraising page, but it’s not too late if you’d like to donate. Just £1 can save a child’s life from malaria which is preventable and treatable. Just click on the orange coloured links to my fundraising pages to donate quickly and easily.

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The challenge has been quite hard as the food I’ve been eating is very dry and boring, without any taste, and I have missed being able to drink tea and snack when I want. However, it’s taught me how hard it is to eat healthily on a very small budget. I couldn’t afford fresh fruit or veg and have mostly been eating rice and pasta. It’s also given me some tips for cooking cheaply when I’m a medical student, which I’m really looking forward to. I hope I’ve inspired others to try this challenge too to raise awareness about people living in extreme poverty around the world.

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Live Below the Line Challenge for Malaria No More 2014

Tomorrow I’ll be living on £1 a day for all of my food and drink as part of a global challenge, Live Below the Line, to end extreme poverty.

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My brother, Joe, caught malaria while we were living in Malawi, but fortunately he recovered after being given the right treatment. I’m doing this challenge so that other children can also receive life-saving treatment for malaria. No parent should lose their child to a disease that is easy to prevent and costs £1 to treat. Malaria is a leading cause of child deaths and poverty in Africa, but together we can make malaria no more. You can sponsor me by donating to Malaria No More here.

This is all of my food for the week, which cost £4.82.

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I bought a bag of pasta for all my lunches, a bag of rice for my dinners, 2 tins of tomatoes, a tin of tuna, a tin of kidney beans, a tin of sweetcorn, and a packet of mushrooms to mix together with the rice and pasta. I also bought a tin of peaches and a pot of natural yoghurt for puddings and a bar of chocolate, and I shall be having a pitta bread for breakfast with a free egg from our chickens. I’ll only be able to drink water as I didn’t have enough money for tea or milk. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford any fresh fruit as they only sell packs of 5 or 6 which cost too much. I think I’ll have plenty to eat, but it will get pretty boring. At least it’s only for 5 days though…

Live Below The Line Fundraising Challenge 2014

Next week I will be taking part in the Live Below The Line Fundraising Challenge again and I will be living off £1 a day for 5 days to help raise awareness about people around the world living in extreme poverty. This is what I did last year:

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I will also be trying to raise money again for my chosen charity, Malaria No More, to try to get more bed nets in places like this hospital in Malawi below: http://www.impatientoptimists.org/~/media/Blog/Other/J/JP%20JZ/545141534656c71c18b2b_jpg_autocropped.jpg

When I lived in Malawi and visited people in hospital there it was very rare to see any mosquito nets, even in the maternity wards. My brother caught malaria while we were living in Malawi, but fortunately he recovered after being given the right treatment. I’m doing this challenge so that other children can also receive life-saving treatment for malaria. No parent should lose their child to a disease that is easy to prevent and only costs £1 to treat.

Malaria is a leading cause of child deaths and poverty in Africa, but together we can make malaria no more. If you would like to donate and help prevent malaria, please visit my Live Below the Line page here.

 

Open Day Invitation

The other day I firmed my first choice university and this Saturday I’ve been invited to attend an Open Day there to look round accommodation and the medical school. I’m really excited as I will be meeting other people who are likely to be studying there with me soon (if I get the grades!)

 

Learning to Drive

Now I’ve got a place at medical school, I’ve decided to try to pass my driving test before I go off to university in September. I know it won’t be easy, but I know I can do it if I try hard and practice whenever I get the chance. I’m having a 2 hour driving lesson tomorrow, so watch out if you’re on the road!

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Sochi 2014 Figure Skating

This weekend I watched some of the figure skating at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The standard of the skating was amazing, and I thought that the best skater was the Russian 15 year old skater, Yulia Lipnitskaya, who won Gold in the Ladies figure skating.

You can watch her perform here by clicking on highlights.

I began figure skating when I came back from Malawi and now train twice a week in a competitive class. I still really enjoy it and am always trying to improve my own jumps and spins, and recently I’ve been lucky enough to get tickets to see Torvill and Dean in their final tour at Birmingham NIA in April.

image from: http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/2Sochi%2BOlympics%2BFigure%2BSkating.JPG

 

Singing at the Symphony Hall

Last December, I sang at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall with my school choir and the Salvation Army to celebrate the theme of ‘Christmas Around The World’. It was a great experience and a good way to start the Christmas holidays. This is a photo and article about it from one of my local magazines (I’m sixth from the right on the back row).

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From 2013 to 2014…

2014 is a big year for me; I have my A Levels, I’ll be turning 18, learning to drive and hopefully I’ll be off to medical school. But first I want to reflect on 2013, and some of the things I got up to on my journey to medical school…

I had great fun at Medlink in January, starting the year meeting like-minded people and experiencing university life. I came home even more motivated to study medicine and so I began to write this blog, which you can also follow here.

In February I was selected to visit Auschwitz with the Holocaust Education Trust. It was such a memorable and interesting but moving trip, which made me realise how important it is to always act with integrity.

I also travelled down to Southampton for a week to shadow a consultant Cardiologist. I really enjoyed experiencing day-to-day life in a hospital, and it was interesting to compare it to my work experience in a hospital in Malawi. I saw how much teamwork is involved and the variety medicine brings every day, but  I also saw firsthand the long hours and large workload it involves, as I was lucky enough to stay with the consultant’s family.

As you will have noticed I have a big interest in malaria, and in March after being inspired by the characters in Mary and Martha, I decided to write to my MP about increasing the Global Fund to fight malaria. I didn’t expect to get a reply, but surprisingly I received an invitation to a Parliamentary World Malaria Day meeting at Westminster. I was so excited but I had an even bigger surprise when I was asked to prepare a speech about my experience of malaria, and so nervously I agreed…

In April I travelled to Westminster for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases. I had to introduce the event by talking about the importance of fighting against malaria, which was quite scary in front of so many experts. Thankfully it went down well and I could relax and enjoy the rest of the evening, which I was so honoured to be a part of. Later on in the year I heard that it had been a success as the UK pledged 1 billion pounds for the Global Fund’s fight against Malaria, HIV and TB. I wanted to do more for Malaria No More, so later that month I took part in the Live Below the Line challenge and lived on only £1 a day to raise money and awareness.

In May and June most of my time was taken up revising for my AS Levels, but I took some weekends off to look around universities on their Open Days. I also began writing my personal statement, anxious to get it out of the way before my busy summer.

July began with a week in Dartmoor on my Gold Duke of Edinburgh expedition. It was exhausting but I had so much fun with our team. We overcame a lot of challenges together, and got along really well despite the difficulties we faced.
I then travelled down to London for some work experience with Alan Dangour at the London School of Tropical Medicine, which was really interesting and I enjoyed doing some research and then presenting it.
I also had a week’s work experience on the Aspiring Doctor’s programme at Stafford Hospital. It showed me the diversity medicine offers, as I shadowed different health professionals in many different specialties, but the highlight was a morning in surgery watching an open bowel operation. I really enjoyed the teamwork, practical element and communication involved. The surgeon was very good at explaining everything he was doing.
I also really enjoyed spending a lot of time volunteering at Katharine House Hospice. I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some of the patients and I’ve learnt that sometimes a smile and a chat can help people to feel so much better. Surprisingly I also learnt how to Bollywood dance, and demonstrated it to the patients with a dance teacher!

In August I travelled down to Southampton to stay with a consultant Nephrologist and shadowed her for a week at Portsmouth and Southampton hospitals. It was a great experience and I really enjoyed being able to talk to lots of patients, as well as medical students and healthcare professionals. A highlight was spending an afternoon in theatre with a Navy anaesthetist, who took time to teach me about his work.

After a welcome holiday in Portugal, I took my UKCAT test, which was quite scary as when I walked in, a girl came out crying, but thankfully it wasn’t half as bad as I had expected.

I sent off my UCAS application in September and I heard back in October with my first invitation for an interview. I was so excited and in return for blogging about it, I was offered a free place on the Success in Medicine Interview Course the day before my interview. It was a really useful course, which gave a lot of advice about the interview and put me at ease with practice scenarios, and their feedback afterwards was very helpful.

In November I was delighted to get another invitation for an interview, and I felt a lot more confident after my first interview. I’m now busy studying for my mocks and waiting to hear from universities about whether or not I’ve been successful. Hopefully this time next year I’ll be at medical school, looking back on another great year.

Malaria No More’s 2013 Highlights

I’m really proud of the part I have played in the 2013 highlights for Malaria No More, helping to halve the child death rates from malaria. This year I’ve taken part in their Live Below the Line challenge, raising money and awareness about malaria. In April I gave a presentation at Westminster for World Malaria Day, which you can read about by clicking on the link below. Here’s a copy of their letter to me:

Dear Megan,

What a way to end the year! We heard last week from the World Health Organization that child death rates from malaria have been halved since 2000.  This is a truly remarkable achievement and you really have played a part in making this happen.

Here at Malaria No More UK we have pulled together our 2013 highlights  – please take a look by clicking here and see what you’ve helped us to achieve. I’m eager to hear your best bits and have handpicked a few of my own below.

Mary and Martha kicking off the year with a considerable buzz.  The TV film, written by Richard Curtis and inspired by our Special Ambassador Jo Yirrell, powerfully conveyed how no parent anywhere should lose their child to a preventable disease. It moved and influenced many of you along with public and political audiences across the world.  We have just made a five minute film narrated by Jo, telling her own story and her support for Malaria No More UK.  Please do watch and share it here.

The UK pledging a record £1 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. We’ve been working hard to encourage the UK to take a leadership role as a driving force in the global malaria campaign.  This Global Fund pledge has the potential to save a life every three minutes and to deliver 32 million mosquito nets.

Forging and developing exciting partnerships. We’ve been working with a number of committed businesses and their customers – not least GSK’s Panadol and Jack Wills – to help end malaria deaths. The year is ending on a high as we celebrate the fifth year of our partnership with ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and as the staff at Deutsche Bank in the UK prepare to support us as a Charity of the Year for 2014. To everyone in these organisations we offer a heartfelt ‘thank you’.

Celebrating the support of people up and down the UK.  Our donors, fundraisers and awareness raisers across the country have been making an immense contribution.  Whether you have been living on £1 a day for Live Below the Line or donating the funds that save lives, we are so grateful to you.

Supporting a new initiative saving thousands of children’s lives in Northern Nigeria. We are proud to continue funding cutting edge malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment programmes in Africa.  In Nigeria malaria takes a devastating toll. This year we are supporting a life saving new treatment there to protect the most vulnerable young children – and we are continuing to support the eventual elimination of malaria from Namibia.

Take a look here at our 2013 highlights!

With renewed thanks from myself and the team and wishing you a joyful and relaxing Christmas,

Success In Medical School Interview Course

On Sunday I travelled to London for the day for a course in how to succeed at a medical interview. The Success in Medical School Interview course was held in a hotel in Paddington and I arrived at 9.30am, in time for a coffee before we started. There were several other people on the course, some graduates and undergraduates, as well as a friend of mine.

We covered key interview techniques including selling ourselves, our motivation for medicine, and the duties and qualities of a doctor. After lunch we practised communication skills and challenging interview questions, before going over some MMI style questions, such as medical ethics, law, data interpretation and hot topics. We finished around 4.30pm, after discussing the finishing touches, such as body language, dress code and confidence techniques, and were given a certificate for attending.

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I was really impressed with all the course materials we were given, and that the organisers had tailored it to specific things we’d requested before it started; eg I asked for practice with data interpretation and role play for my MMI interview. Overall I found the course very useful, and I’d recommend it especially if you live close to London, and feel you need some advice and feedback before your medical interview. Dr Ting and Mr Qiu, who organised the course, were both very professional and experienced, and I’d like to thank them both.

Another Invitation for Interview!

I’m really happy because I just heard today that I’ve been invited for an interview at one of my other medical school choices. It’s at the end of this month, so not too far away. This one is more of a traditional interview with a panel of 2 interviewers and will last about 20 minutes, while the first one is MMI (multiple mini interviews) with 6 stations each lasting 6 minutes. I hope I hear from my other choices soon too.

Yesterday I had a mock interview at school, with three of my teachers. It was really good practice and I got some good feedback. They gave me some role play questions, some ethical dilemmas and some traditional questions. I was quite nervous and my mouth went dry really quickly, so I’ll make sure that I take a bottle of water with me for the real thing! I didn’t realise how long 6 minutes is until I had to pretend I’d hit the interviewer’s car and had to role play what I’d do. Some of the answers I gave were too long though, so I’ll have to try to time them better.

image from http://img.allvoices.com/thumbs/image/609/609/93594083-medical-ethics.jpg

The Student room have posted information about what to expect at interviews at all the different medical schools. You can see what to expect here.

Here are some good interview questions that I found on the web. They have all been asked at medical school interviews recently.

Success in Medicine Interview Course

In about 3 weeks time I have an interview for medical school, which I’m really excited about (and a little bit nervous).

To help me prepare I’m going on the Success in Medicine Interview Coursewhich you can read about here. 

It is a one day intensive course, including mock interview questions, interview techniques and current medical issues. The course looks really interesting and helpful, especially because you are given individual feedback to improve your performance.

I’m looking forward to going, and I’ll let you know what it’s like.  

Latest research on the long-term effects of malaria

Chris Moxon, clinical lecturer at Liverpool University, has just published a study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases that shows there may be a link between repeated bouts of malaria in children and a greater likelihood of them becoming ill later in life with other illnesses like cardiovascular disease (read more in this LSTM article).

This is because their blood vessels become inflamed when they have malaria, and they may remain inflamed throughout their life making them leaky and susceptible to blocking with fat. He suggests the possibility of treating the children with statins in the future to help reduce the inflammation, and prevent further disease.

I was particularly interested in this study which was carried out on 190 children in Blantyre, Malawi, because I used to live there, and my brother also caught malaria while we were there.