Along with apt medical knowledge, quick and critical thinking, this profession demands good communication and interpersonal skills. This challenging nature of the profession always fascinated me, as there are always improvements and advancements that can be made and enigmatic diseases always come up and need further exploration to understand. Due to these reasons, I have also found history taking and explaining diagnoses to patients quite interesting, as I get to hear a different patient journey every time and have the chance to think critically about their potential problems.
Thirdly, my personal childhood definitely did instil in me an interest in this profession as my dad had suffered for quite a long time with pernicious anaemia from vitamin B12 deficiency, which took a long time for doctors to realise as the cause for his medical issues. He ended up with neuropathy, being unable to walk and severe fatigue since doctors could not identify the problem until late. Eventually, doctors diagnosed it and he received B12 injections which potentially saved his life and prevented further complications. This horrific experience taught me the importance of doctors and how much difference it really makes.
What has been the most challenging aspect?
I think the most challenging aspect is to be focused and keep your determination in top gear. Medicine study is long and complex, since there are so many subjects and specialties to learn about, and you get the feeling that it never ends. One of hand this can be a good thing, since it means there is always chance of research, innovation and to teach others something new, however, as a medical student, it can sometimes be upsetting when you do not find an end point to all your hard work and studying.
And the most surprising?
The most surprising aspect of this profession is the fact that each patient is different. Before, starting medical school, I was under the notion that if I learn about a certain medical condition, I will be able to pick it up in everyone based on the symptoms and signs that they tell me. Even in TV shows and movies, the impression given by actors playing doctors is that they know the answer to all ailments. However, throughout medical school I have learnt that what we learn in textbooks does not always apply. For example, one patient might tell you the accepted list of symptoms which relate to a particular condition, however the second patient may complain of other problems, which although not as related, actually apply to the same condition. Furthermore, each patient has their own concerns and expectations and everyone responds differently to pain and a life changing diagnosis. Therefore, the ability to be adaptable as a clinician is important.
What advice would you give to new students joining us on placement at ELHT?
Advice I would give to students on placement is to be an inquirer. Show that you are keen and enthusiastic to learn and always ask questions when in doubt rather than being sorry later on for not asking it. This way, even if a particular doctor or team is busy and cannot give you as much time, they will definitely pay more attention to you and will be willing to interact with you, if you show that you are interested to be there.
Also, whenever you are told to take history or do certain procedures on a patient, such as taking bloods, always try to do so even if you feel tired or not keen to, since it only improves your learning and experience. Moreover, it gives a positive feeling to the team members you work with.
Any tips on dealing with the stress and pressure?
Try to plan at least a few weeks ahead on what you will be studying and revising in the coming weeks (making a planner helps) and do not overwhelm yourself with information. As a medical student, it is easy to get caught up into feeling like doing a lot and wanting to know everything, however, this will lead to burnout in the long term and will make you dislike revision. Therefore, focus on one thing at a time and remember that although you will not remember 100% of what you learn, at least you will remember something.
Who or what has been your inspiration?
I would say both my parents have been my inspiration. My mom and dad have worked hard and smart throughout their lives to bring me up well and enable me to study this course.
Furthermore, my mom also recently completed her masters in DNA profiling after about 20 year-long gap in her education, since she was always interested in genetics and forensics. It is not easy to go back to university and complete a gruelling masters course as this requires a lot of courage, positive mind-set and perseverance. Therefore, I always feel that if she can fulfil her dreams at her age and after such a time gap, I should be able to definitely do it and should really have no reason to complain.
What advice would you give others embarking on a career in health?
I would tell them to always keep a positive approach and keep patience. Sometimes the journey as a student or trainee can be long and really test your knowledge and skills, but if you know that you will be able to make a difference to others and that they count on you once you start working, this will keep you motivated.
Favourite quotes of all time
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work - Thomas A. Edison
It always seems impossible until it is done – Nelson Mandela