Choosing to do a medical degree is not a decision I have taken lightly. It is not a career I have wanted to do since a particularly young age, nor did a life-changing event prompt my choice.
I put in a great deal of thought before deciding to apply.I was 14 years old when I was diagnosed as autistic. My parents had decided that approaching GCSE’s “we’d better finally find out what we were dealing with”.
Of course I can’t say how much influence the diagnosis has had, but I am aware that everyone, myself included, has ideas of what autism is and what it implies, and that these ideas vary, but in general there seems to be an accepted wisdom that autistic traits make people suitable for careers in computing but not necessarily medicine. It has therefore taken me some time to find the self-confidence to say that I really want to study medicine, that I know I should study medicine, and that I would make good use of the knowledge, to help others. Studying pharmacology has shown me that even if my brain is “wired differently” it has a great aptitude for study and learning, and can cope with the immense complexity of the human body. My work as a domiciliary carer and my additional practical courses have shown me that I can also succeed in practical situations. I have therefore decided that I should make every effort to find a place where I can study medicine.
In my work as a domiciliary carer, I assisted the support of people of an elderly generation to go about their daily lives as best they could. As the role was patient centred, each client had their own individual personalised care plan, which also had some flexibility depending on how they were feeling on the day. My duties included, but were not limited to; assisting patients to take their medication, administering medication, assessing patients for pressure sores, manual handling of patients, helping them to wash and dress, or the more general such as making them some food, or a cup of tea.
This experience taught me more about both the physical, and more importantly the psychological and emotional impacts of aging and senility.In addition to my role as a care worker, I am due to undertake a four week placement between December 2018, and January 2019, doing volunteer work in a hospital, which includes generally on the wards, community outreach, and also working in a more specialist clinic for prosthetics and rehabilitation of spinal injuries.Outside of university, I am quite heavily involved in local youth work in Gillingham, where I currently live.
Although I have recently had to cut back, I have experience working as a Scout leader with all five of the available age groups (3-18). Working with all these different age groups – in addition to the domiciliary care – has enabled me to have strong communication skills with a wide variety of people from all walks of life. I have also been on the committee for a society for three years, including one year as president, and play the violin.The primary reason why I enjoy both the care work and the youth work so immensely is the fluctuating nature of the work – it is still entirely dynamic, which makes it exciting and stimulating, never knowing what to expect, because the only certainty is that it will never be the same thing twice.I understand the hours are long and potentially antisocial and that the career can be both physically and mentally exhausting. It is also clear that a medical career will require sacrifices to be made.
However, medicine is also a deeply gratifying and fascinating career path. I want to be a medic because it balances my passions for science and helping others and to me, 4 years more of formal education after my Bachelor’s degree followed by a lifetime of further learning sounds like a stimulating career option and, thankfully, a far cry from the monotony some jobs pose. I know I have the enthusiasm, capacity for hard work and the open and enquiring mind needed to succeed in such a fulfilling vocation.