Compassionate, respectful, approachable. These are the three words I would use to describe the doctor who strengthened my desire to pursue a career in medicine. I was shown these qualities on my work experience, whilst observing a consultation with an elderly stroke victim who was due to be discharged. She was lonely and worried about living alone, and seeing the way the doctor spoke to her was an invaluable inspiration. Even small, subtle things like taking the patients hand and talking slowly and calmly made a visible difference to the patient's outlook on her future, emphasizing to me the importance of a positive doctor-patient relationship. Also, spending two days with a nurse, helping to feed and care for debilitated patients has been crucial for providing me with the experience and knowledge of the realities of disease and ageing.
For over two years, I have volunteered and worked at a primary school. My responsibilities include organizing activities and recording the youngest children's progress in learning and development. This has enabled me to hone essential organization and communication skills, whilst developing positive relationships between the children and parents. Recently, I undertook a 10 week course to become a senior playworker. As a result, I am entrusted to look after, on a one to one basis, children with special needs. Unlike my work experience, this has given me the opportunity to get to know these children on a personal basis and to understand their unique needs and requirements. One child with severe autism I found extremely hard to communicate with. At first I was anxious, but the more time I spent with him, the more I learned to understand his personality. I learnt that talking to him in short words and phrases helped him to understand, and that holding small, tactile objects made him feel calm in stressful situations. Getting to know this child has been my favorite opportunity at this school, as I feel I have genuinely made a difference to the way he enjoys his time here. Furthermore, as a pediatric first aider, I am often given the responsibility of dealing with children's medical issues.
At school, I actively work to broaden my scientific knowledge. After attending a conference on dementia, I wrote a short, independent research project how plaques and tangles in the brain cause dementias characteristic symptoms. Researching about the detrimental effects it can have on one’s life has inspired me to take up a voluntary position in a care home for elderly people with dementia. I intend to continue volunteering here throughout my gap year, with the hope of building trusting relationships with the residents and make a positive impact on their lives. I will also continue to work at my primary school, putting an emphasis on working with children with special needs. As a prefect and peer supporter, I have to be punctual, motivated and organized to ensure my duties are done effectively and efficiently. These duties, such as directing tours of the school have improved my leadership skills dramatically and having co-led my Ten Tors and DofE team, I truly understand the importance of strong teamwork. My most recent 55 mile Ten Tors expedition has undoubtedly been my greatest physical accomplishment, and, on reflection, I can see that if it wasn't for the excellent team morale and camaraderie, it would not have been possible. This experience has taught me that, in tough situations especially, a positive mindset and excellent team spirit is key for success.
Having spoken to many healthcare professionals, I understand that medicine is not an easy career path, will require personal sacrifice and will at times be physically and emotionally demanding. However, with the experience I have, and the attributes I have developed, I feel like there is no career that I am better suited to and I am excited by the prospect of a job which will challenge me and allow me to positively impact people’s lives.