University of Bristol
HKF Award Year
4th Year Medical Student
” You could say that I wasn’t the stereotypical medical student applicant. As an 18 year old, I had only 5 GCSE’s and had spent the last 3 years on a mental health act section in a psychiatric hospital. When discharged into care I told my case workers that I wanted to study medicine, to which they laughed; “Medicine is for the top select few, there is no way a kid from care will break into that world”. Many meetings in which I had to argue my case later, it was finally agreed I could go to my local college to get my A levels – I was the first person from my care home to ever be allowed access to mainstream schooling. Achieving my A-levels required me to work harder than I thought I could, but I did it and my dream has become a reality.
As a medical student, I have realised that being a doctor requires many significant qualities. Humility, empathy and a stable personal resilience are just as essential as sound academic ability. The word resilience is thrown around a lot in medical school, it’s a quality that is instilled in us throughout our course; something that has never been a struggle for me to find. You could say that resilience only comes with experience, and those who have had to display courage and fight at some point in their life understand the true meaning of the word. What I do know is that my past 4 years at medical school have been the best and in some way easiest of my life, I have been able to call upon my resilience in order to deal with factors many of my colleagues have struggled with. The most important thing for me has been that I have loved every minute of the medical course, and I still feel so much gratitude for the chance I have been given to achieve my aspiration of being a doctor.
Since starting clinical placements, my most positive feedback has always been surrounding my attitude and behaviour towards patients. Being from a care background and without the conventional route through school, I have lived and with hundreds of different people and interacted with those from all walks of life. The NHS treats patients from all backgrounds and a key skill as a doctor is versatility and compassion towards all your patients, something that my past has taught me well. I have been treated by many inspirational health care professionals during my time as a patient – I can only hope that one day I will impact the lives of others as they did for me.
There are many things I wish someone had told me when I applied for medicine. Firstly, if you want to be a doctor but worry you do not meet the stereotypical mould, apply anyway. The NHS would not survive if there was only one type of doctor, applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds and skill is what’s required to ensure the best people specialise in the area of medicine that suits them most – one size does not fit all!
Secondly, don’t let someone else hold you back. If I would have listened to my case workers telling me that I would never make it, I would not be where I am now, spending every day in appreciation of the honour and responsibility that being a medical student holds. Thirdly, coming from a non-conventional background often gives you qualities that are highly desired in a doctor. For me, building a quick rapport with others and working with people from all backgrounds is my strength. Although some must fight harder to get into medicine than others, that does not mean you are any less worthy of a place. “.