Having a family history of chronic health conditions such as asthma and diabetes, I was often exposed to the multidisciplinary teams within the NHS. It was whilst accompanying my father to an appointment with his general practitioner, that I was introduced to the implications that came with his conditions. Having a genetic pre-disposition to develop these illnesses compelled me to find out more. Reading ‘Living Life with Diabetes’ by John Keeler, who was diagnosed with the condition aged four in 1975, whilst, also observing my father’s current experience with diabetes, has made me appreciate the rate at which medical research and technology advance. Particularly, how this innovation changes the diagnosis, management, and the patient’s experience of living with a condition.
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Exploring the field of epigenetics, I wrote an academic assignment based on epigenetic mechanisms. This allowed me to further develop my interest in the relationship between genetic predisposition and chronic health conditions; I learnt that genetics are not the sole determinant in hereditary illnesses developing. My writing further focused on the influence of epigenetics on physiology, and the link between epigenetic changes and cancer. This has built my fascination for the research opportunities within medicine. To gain an insight into primary care, I organized a placement at a general practice. Shadowing nurses, health care assistants, clinical pharmacists and doctors showed me how all healthcare professions work together to enhance the patient’s healthcare experience. I was drawn towards the doctor’s ability to effectively ask questions to reach diagnosis and explain complex concepts in a way such that the patients can understand. I learnt about the importance of upholding patient confidentiality and gaining consent from the patient, before preforming procedures. Shadowing has also made me aware of some of the pressures facing clinicians; reading an account by Dr. Ranjana Srivastava made me understand the emotional strain of medicine, dealing with the loss of a patient.
Volunteering in a care home has taught me about the significance of patience and active listening in medicine. This experience both humbled and challenged me. Many of the residents suffered from Alzheimer’s disease; observing the nurses’ ability to reassure and calm residents, made me appreciate the commitment required to work within the healthcare profession. Spending time with a resident who had a severe speech impairment, made me realize how vital it is to show an interest in the patient as an individual. I also learnt how communication is foundational in establishing a good rapport with patients. Appreciating the need for a healthy work-life balance; I have recently taken up hiking, I find that it is a very efficient method of relaxation. Being a member of a community youth group, I manage media production. This has helped me improve my team-working skills, which are crucial in effective patient care. Meeting with the youth group every week to talk about past and upcoming projects, has made me realize how imperative it is to reflect, both on what went right and what needs improving.
Through the journey of understanding what a medical career entails, my decision to pursue medicine has only been strengthened. The ability to improve people’s lives, make a difference within the wider community, combined with the application of science is what draws me towards studying medicine. The skills I have developed through my experiences, have helped me become compassionate, committed and conscientious; I believe this will enable me to thrive, both as a medical student and as a clinician.
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