My journey here isn’t what you might call typical. I am 10 years older than most of the other students in my year. “That‘s practically a whole generation!” as one of my non-medic friends so kindly put it.
I didn’t choose to do chemistry A-Level when I selected my choices aged 16. I don’t think I had ever really considered a career in medicine at that time. It was only on my gap year, teaching English to under-privileged primary school children in Thailand that I began to think that was what I wanted to do.
My parents dutifully researched Medicine courses back in England but found that without chemistry A-Level there was really no way in. So I opted to go ahead with my plan to study Applied Communications at Newcastle University. I couldn’t possibly delay university by another two years to gain the all-important chemistry A-Level – I’d be ancient by the time I started if I did that! Little did I know…
I went on to have the best three years of my life in Newcastle and gained a first class degree for my efforts. I spent a year working in marketing in Australia following my degree and got a place on the BT Global Services graduate scheme on my return.
I was working in Internal Communications in London – I had a good job with great prospects. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to life. What was I doing that was actually helping people? Was I really making a difference?
It was a throw-away comment from a friend of a friend that made me realise that re-training was an option. As stupid as it sounds retraining was a possibility!
I was accepted at Sheffield to the six-year pre-med course. This gives people without a science background the opportunity to study medicine by teaching all the chemistry, biology and physics you need in a pre-medical year at the start. For me this was ideal – it gave me a whole year to remember how to learn, revise and sit exams again.
I am now entering my fourth year as a student doctor. It hasn’t been easy – my mind isn’t as sponge-like as the younger students! However, what I lack in memory I make up for with enthusiasm. Every day I feel lucky to have been given this opportunity. I am making the most of every chance to learn and I know that this is my calling. I also feel being a little older gives me an advantage when it comes to relating to patients, consultants, nurses and well, everyone really.
Don’t get me wrong, it is hard not having a salary as all your friends outside medicine ascend through the ranks. And the pressure of juggling a family with work is looming almost as soon as I finish my foundation training. But, I absolutely love medicine and the challenges, variety and opportunities it presents and there isn’t anything I would rather be doing.