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Why I Chose Medicine?
Deciding on a career that suits your strengths and interests is never an easy task, whatever your age. Whether to commit to a vocation like medicine, often at the age of just 17, is an even bolder decision to make. In this blog, three current medical students, Keerthi, Anam and Sara, will be sharing their experiences of how and why they chose the profession.
Imperial College London
For many, the interest in a career in medicine is first sparked in a biology classroom, and I was no different. Whilst I could’ve done without labouring over the ecology topics so much, and the prospect of learning the nutrient cycles again sets me into panic-mode, it was obvious that I found learning about the workings of one of the most complex machines known to man - the human body - endlessly intriguing.
I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in this particular subject area that stimulated me mentally, and empowered me to make a meaningful difference to REAL people. From working at village pharmacy, I felt that one of the most beautiful features of any healthcare profession is the ability to build a relationship with people who are potentially at their most vulnerable - listening to them, understanding them and being humbled by them. The field of medicine provides a rare combination of these things: practical use of a knowledge base that I relished cultivating in using this information to piece together the clues of a real-life puzzle, with the responsibility of formulating a plan that will improve the quality of life for individual patients whom you’ve spent time to learn and care about.
Personally, the idea of a desk job has always seemed dreary to say the least. Medicine as a profession offers such diversity, and the prospect of no two days being the same excites and inspires me. With cutting-edge scientific innovation influencing every specialty of the field, I knew I was guaranteed the potential of lifelong growth and learning. It’s dynamic in a way that’s unmatched by any other profession, and comes with a plethora of options for building a career that suits you as your interests and lifestyle changes. Teaching? Management? Research? Working in the developing world?
Ultimately, getting as much insight into the profession is absolutely essential. The decision to take up a vocation like medicine is a weighty one, and definitely has to be your own. The glamourous reality also comprises of many years spent with your head in a textbook, often dangerously long working hours (with a greater-than-expected proportion spent doing administrative tasks), and the odd patient who isn’t necessarily amenable - a demanding occupation in every sense of the word. Equally, however, medicine promises a career filled with so many beautiful, rewarding moments - and it’s these truly magical moments that make it all completely worth it for me.
University of Birmingham
I’m Anam, a Third Year Medic at the University of Birmingham. I’ve been with Kaplan for just over a year now, and mainly teach UCAT. More recently, I’ve begun to get involved with the Future Doctors Channel - tune in for some special UCAT, BMAT and general application tips! This blog post is all about why I decided to do Medicine, and my journey to Med School after.
Everyone’s motivations for studying medicine are unique. It’s a very intimate question, ‘Why Medicine?’, and often interviews will ask you to sum up thoughts & reasons that may be difficult to put into words - but for me, in essence, I just couldn’t imagine pursuing any other career. I had been thinking about Medicine for a while, and, as typical as it may sound, after work experience & volunteering, my interest only grew. I’d witnessed how intellectually challenging a job in Medicine is; everyday, the doctors that I shadowed were presented with new problems and had to work rapidly to find solutions. Not only this, but you are required to call upon a whole host of skills throughout the day: teamwork in the MDT meetings, communication with colleagues & patient families etc. I knew this daily variety would keep me interested. Finally, being a doctor comes down to what you’re doing for the patient, and whilst it may sound cheesy, the satisfaction from making a difference in patients’ lives, or at least trying to, was a sense of reward I don’t think I could find in any other job.
Once I was set on the course, it was now about getting in.
Whilst the application process physically begins in Year 13, you’ll find that you’ve been prepping long before that. The months of volunteering & work experience, as well as the lengthy list of extra-curricular achievements you’ve accumulated all culminate in this application. Having done my UCAT the summer before Year 13 began, I was ready to apply, but choosing universities was a hard decision, as I was very indecisive! After realising my preference for traditional courses, I sifted through universities to whittle it down to 4. Finally, in October, after an insane amount of personal statement checks and edits, my application was sent off! After that, it really is just a waiting game: waiting for confirmation of my application being received by the university, waiting for an interview, waiting for an application update, and then waiting for an offer – you become an email-addict!
I spent the rest of the year attending my interviews, and what I will remark on is how difficult it is to judge how you’ve done! My own mis-judgment on my performance aside, friends also experienced the same – those who had a feeling they hadn’t done amazingly, got in and vice-versa! Even when you think you’ve reached the point of no return with an interview, you could genuinely still get an offer from there – basically, don’t lose hope!
By March I had received all my offers, and it was just a matter of deciding my firm choice and insurance. I was lucky to be in a position where I had to choose, but being as indecisive as I was, it wasn’t an easy decision! I ended up going with Birmingham as my firm, and when results day came, I had met the grades and gotten in!
So that was my journey to Medical School, and good luck to all of you embarking on yours!
Studying medicine at university was a long thought-out decision. I wanted to make sure I had the right knowledge before applying so that I was confident in my application process.
My work experience placements gave me a deep insight into what a career in medicine is like. I had the opportunity to shadow doctors, go on ward rounds, talk to patients and see how clinics are run. This not only showed me the clinical side of medicine such as diagnosing and prescribing, but it also taught me that there is also a lot of paperwork associated as a daily aspect.Continuous professional training
Speaking to doctors and asking them different questions allowed me to gauge how life is like in the medical profession. For example, I was introduced to the medical progression pathway - namely, Foundation Years 1 and 2, Core Medical Training, General Practitioner Training, Core Surgical Training. Therefore, I was made aware of life after graduating from medicine and what the real world of work entailed. I realised, for instance, that you will continue to have to sit exams even after graduating, to progress onto the next ‘level’. Moreover, since medicine is a continuously developing field, there are new drugs and therapies that doctors need to keep themselves up-to-date with, so there’s also an aspect of lifelong learning. I felt it was important and useful to have this information before applying as some students may not like the idea of having to sit exams throughout their career and may think of it as being too intense for them.Learning about patients
Another aspect that inspired me to study medicine was through the experience I gained whilst talking to patients. I realised that each patient had different needs, required different treatments and each of their conditions differed in severity. Some patients were expected to fully recover from their illness whilst others’ prognoses were not as optimistic. This made me appreciate the extent to which a doctor’s role is so varied and how they have to tailor their approach to meet an individual’s circumstances. It highlighted to me that doctors have such a rewarding role in helping patients regain their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and health. Medicine, in my opinion, offers a large mix of experiences on a day-to-day basis since patients present different symptoms and it can be challenging to identify what the underlying cause of their sickness is. In that regard, it is quite a dynamic work life and you are part of a wider medical team with other healthcare professionals.Applying theory to practice
Also, I personally liked the idea of applying scientific theory into real life practice. For instance, being able to learn about biochemistry, anatomy and physiology from a book and then transferring that knowledge when treating patients. This is especially applicable to the surgical field, as surgeons need to be fully aware of which bodily structures they are cutting into and passing through.
Overall, my work experience really taught me a lot about life as a doctor and I think it is extremely helpful to be made aware of the different aspects of the career before you apply.