When is the last time you really needed an advocate? How did you go about finding one?
There were a few times I genuinely needed professional advice. My tool of choice- books. Growing up on books, it was a natural reflex for me to find out how someone dealt with similar circumstances through their own stories. Ranging from raw autobiographies to court cases, all the way to black and white textbooks.
The problem: these books were sometimes over 20 years old and often not based in the UK. How do I contact the equivalent now, here?
Fast forward a number of years, I set up this website to be a realtime representation of me and some interests, as an advocate, even it meant it would help one person on their journey. But what does this have to do with medical school?
September/ October – I entered medical school. Moved cities. I sat in lectures, surrounded by younger faces, I sat in lecture theatres, surrounded in commitment, I sat in lecture theatres, surrounded. Have I taken a step down? Maybe my vision is just too crazy?
Mid November – I’d had enough. I came back to my room one evening and really made an advantages and disadvantages list. You know, the standard first result from “that Google search”. Confided in a few people. Recalibrated.
I’ll give it one last shot.
December – A WAMSoc Interview session for sixth form students really put some things into perspective. Sitting on the other side, I remembered all the help it took to get there. I remembered those six months I spent travelling event to event, taking annual leave for clinical placements, spending days off to make up for the preparation some have taken years to do. I remembered the horrendous mock interviews, draft after draft of personal statements and the dreaded UKCAT. And now I want to let it all go?!
Vision realigned – I realised that I took the offer not only for a personal plan, but to enable others, especially asian women to feel more comfortable with taking an unconventional leap towards a bigger goal. There were no books this time I could turn to so I am writing this for anyone else who needs to see it, just see it in writing. Thoughts in the mind can fight with others, but words you can see can be stronger than the thoughts you cannot.
Why I’m staying in medical school?
To ensure my initial intentions were still in check, I contacted my previous work place, Sarah Cannon Research Institute, to see some of their oncology patients for a few days with the doctors.
I arrived. And it didn’t take long, it just clicked. I was back.
So, Dr Arkenau and Dr Murias, I owe a huge thank you to you both for taking me along to see Stage IV cancer patients in some of their most vulnerable states. For it’s the patient, it’s always about the patient.
Don’t get me wrong, the moment I get on the tube at rush hour, I question the whole patient facing factor once more but when you see patients crowdfunding hundreds of thousands of pounds for treatment from the public, maybe we do have some hope left after all…
What did I learn?
Even before I started a degree in chemistry, the impact on the patient through making drugs and regulating its production was always the intention. Doing a course to interact directly with the patient myself is merely an extended benefit; a privilege. I am doing this to be an advocate for someone in their time of need, not just in a book but face to face.
Now, I enjoy the novelties of travelling between two cities, the uncertainty of taking a road less travelled and keeping up with some chemistry in my free time too. Being the closest to certain in a decision is the most comforting experience of all and I hope this shows that it is okay to question yourself. It’s okay not to be sure. But take the active steps to answer the questions you need to make the right decision- once, twice, thrice. After all, you only get one shot in the end.
As I hope to utilise my degree in medicine to the maximum, this summer I will be joining a team of medics and dentists to travel to Bangladesh and provide free healthcare to locals in rural villages of Sylhet. Here, 60% of people have no access to basic healthcare as the majority of healthcare is privatised and clinics poorly distributed throughout the villages.
I would be honoured if you could donate towards the cause so we can provide the best medical support and make the biggest impact yet to mark the 10th anniversary of Selfless!