Standing in theatre for eight hours observing surgery to treat severe ankylosing spondylitis, not only confirmed but reinforced my resolve to study medicine. From scalpel to stitch, the levels of focus and determination were almost palpable. Observing the surgeons work swiftly whilst maintaining their composure, even when obstacles arose, made me thoroughly comprehend the difficulties but also the great privilege it is to be a doctor.
I have always sought to extend my knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and thus conducted an EPQ with the title ‘Can birth defects be treated surgically whilst the fetus is still in utero, particularly in the cases of central nervous system defects?’ Fascinated by fetal surgery from the moment I first discovered that an unborn child could be operated on, I was captivated by the vast variety of conditions which can be treated. In completing my EPQ, I have learnt invaluable skills which will be essential to cope with the rigor of the medicine course. I have further explored the practicalities of a career as a doctor by partaking in a summer school at Liverpool Science Park, where I learnt basic skills used in everyday medicine such as taking a patients history and auscultation.
Empathy and treating people with respect are key attributes of a doctor, and are two of the many skills which I have developed whilst volunteering in a care home, where many of the residents suffer from dementia and struggle with basic tasks. One particularly poignant moment came after six months of playing dominoes with the same resident, when she finally remembered my name. This specific moment made me realize how the small acts of kindness can have such a big impact. However, I have also been presented with challenges which have taught me a variety of skills and also enabled me to hone pre-existing ones, such as effective communication. I was drawn to a resident in the care home who often looked afraid and was unable to speak for herself. I subsequently learnt how to distinguish between the subtleties in her body language which gave me an indication of how she was feeling, such as her head tilted to the side meant that she did not understand what was happening. This led me to fully comprehend the importance of non-verbal communication, and the substantial amount of information which can be conveyed without talking. Having observed doctors in wards, clinics, surgeries and primary care, one key theme which is present throughout all aspects of medicine is the importance of teamwork and the MDT. This was underlined whilst undertaking work experience with a spinal department, where a woman had been brought into hospital after fracturing a vertebrae. I witnessed the interactions during theatre of the surgeons, anesthetist, nurses and radiographers, and then the following day was able to observe her session with the physiotherapist. All of the staff involved in the patients care had one common goal; to do what was best for the patient. My own teamwork skills were developed and refined during my Gold Duke of Edinburgh. Whilst at the top of Helvellyn, my team was faced with extreme weather conditions. We worked collectively to navigate our way briskly, but safely, down. Although there were moments where I felt fearful and forlorn, I believe that my mental fortitude and resilience aided me in accomplishing the expedition. Whilst working as a doctor, I am aware that there will also be difficult situations to undertake, and so the experiences which I have faced, such as those of DofE, have prepared me mentally for the challenges which I shall meet daily.
The medical profession can be demanding, and so it is crucial to have hobbies for relaxation. As a grade eight flautist, I have played in various ensembles, including a tour to France. I have also performed dance and drama shows in theatres. These experiences have endowed me with attributes such as being meticulous, self-motivated and able to perform under pressure, all of which I am confident will support me in achieving my dream of becoming a doctor.
Being a doctor is a lifelong commitment to helping others, requiring commitment, perseverance and continual studying. I believe that I am equipped with the skills which will enable me to study medicine, and then proceed into the profession. I eagerly anticipate the challenges of both life at university and those presented to me as a doctor.