Ahh…a question with the complete opposite of a straightforward answer. I suppose the truth is it was a combination of many different things like it is for everyone, but that’s a bit too short of an answer so I’ll try and delve a little deeper…
I wasn’t one of those students that always knew they wanted to do Medicine – I grew up never knowing which career path I wanted to pursue. I didn’t even consider Medicine for a long time because I didn’t really have much exposure to healthcare so why would I think of it? – hardly went to the doctor’s myself, didn’t really have family going so it just wasn’t something that crossed my mind.
The one thing I always knew was that I wanted to do something in Science, it was always my favourite subject all throughout school and I had a genuine passion for it so that to me that was very obvious. I spent my high school years knowing I wanted to do something in Science but I didn’t give it much thought to it because for me at that age thinking about careers felt like a lifetime away – I just thought my calling within the field of Science would find me (and it kind of did in a way)!
My first exposure to Medicine was going to the Medicine Conference hosted by Medlink when I was in Year 10 – it seemed interesting so me and my friend decided to go and have a look around. I remember us both walking around the stalls where you could pick up information on the UCAT, BMAT etc (which at that stage we had no idea about) and as we were walking around we both kept saying to each other “I don’t even know if I want to do this” because we were mainly there out of curiosity. The Medlink conference was amazing though because it was buzzing with life, I don’t think I really started considering medicine at that stage though; I enjoyed it, but didn’t think about it much more.
It was at the start of Year 11 that my baby brother was born, with undiagnosed Down Syndrome. He spent a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before he was able to come home and I went from never being around healthcare to sitting next to him in an incubator for hours on end. This to me was what sparked that desire. Sat there, I saw and felt the delivery of healthcare from the perspective of a patient and I saw the way he had so many different people looking after him together; saw the nurses coming to take his sats, change his oxygen concentrations. I started asking my mum questions “why are they doing that?”, “why did he/she say that?”. I remember wanting to know about why everyone had to leave the unit when the ward round was being conducted and being quite fascinated when I was told it was due to trying to maintain patient confidentiality. That was when I started thinking about it realistically for myself and when I started thinking I could see myself in that role.
The natural course of action was to start exploring it properly so a few months later I applied as a volunteer at my local hospice. A few months on I applied to volunteer at a hospital and every experience I had like that made me want to go for Medicine more and more – it just fit, I loved every aspect of it. When I was choosing my A-level subjects I had to make the difficult decision to choose between Physics and Biology which was hard because I loved them both equally but everyone was trying to dissuade me from picking all 4 Sciences. I spoke to lots of people, contemplated my future career choice and the more I thought about the more Medicine appeared to be the perfect fit so I scratched Physics and went for Biology. Throughout my A-levels I continued accumulating work experience and doing voluntary work in the healthcare sector and I realised that it was the human application of Science that I was after all along and that’s exactly what Medicine was!