Medicine Personal Statement
Submitted by Sinead
Austerity, junior doctor strikes, and even Brexit, are said to have brought the NHS to a breaking point, yet that does not change the fact that there are patients in the UK who need to be treated and that the NHS, with its promise of treatment free at the point of delivery, remains hugely valued. A career in medicine combines the rewards of helping people at an often difficult time with scientific knowledge and innovations. Together, I believe these make for a hugely fulfilling profession.
Shadowing a consultant gave me insight into how a doctor’s job requires not only the knowledge to diagnose and treat an illness, but empathy and patience in working with a patient who may not fully understand or accept their situation. Volunteering in the cardiovascular ward, where the patients are mainly elderly with complex health issues, like diabetes, brought home how vital it is that doctors assess and recognise each individual patient’s needs to ensure the best possible outcome. This is not the most glamorous side of medicine as many of the patients are very frail, often with terminal and emotionally distressing conditions. The emphasis on emotional as well as physical care inspired me to volunteer regularly on the ward, giving out drinks and meals, and being a friendly approachable face in a hectic and pressured environment.
Observing the repair of an AAA gave me the opportunity to experience another aspect of the medical profession and made me acutely aware of how a surgeon must remain composed as well as having the skill and care to perform complicated procedures. I was fortunate to attend a carotid endarterectomy, where a patient was not put under general anaesthetic, allowing surgeons to monitor brain activity. During the surgery I was asked to talk to the patient and here I learnt the significance of a calm, warm manner to reassure the patient during this daunting experience. I found that patient safety and comfort is paramount during all aspects of surgery to alleviate discomfort and promote an appropriate recovery.
Sitting in on multidisciplinary team meetings showed me that two similar cases might be treated differently, looking at factors like age and general health. I learned to appreciate the importance of communication and teamwork between colleagues, often from different specialties, in ensuring things run smoothly both for staff and the patient.
I also experienced the variety in the job and the need to adapt to the patient in a paediatric clinic. A family came in with their newborn with a 50% shortened femur. The options were either a prosthetic limb or a series of correcting surgical procedures. This was a very difficult choice and I could feel the parents’ dilemma. The doctors needed to engage with the parents in making a shared decision about the child’s wellbeing. I realised how, as a doctor, good moral and ethical judgment was crucial as was the ability to engage empathetically with others.
Completing the DofE award and playing football has helped me develop teamwork skills as well as being enjoyable ways to reduce stress, which a career in medicine will bring. I am also studying German at home along with my four A-levels as I feel having a language is a valuable asset in an international field such as medicine. This has required me to manage my time and self-teach, which will be important for my time at University as well as in the medical profession.