Sunday, June 30, 2013

The hurdle to enter medical school

Honestly, the thought of becoming a doctor did not click to me until i was doing my A Level. Previously, i had many ambitions such as becoming a radio dee-jay, an accountant, a teacher and also imagining myself as an executive doing clerical work in a high rise building overseeing the city. Blame it on the media!

However, being typical Asian parents, my mom and dad told me to choose a professional line such as lawyer, doctor or engineer. At the end of it, i was stuck between being an engineer or a doctor. I remember meeting up with my dad's friend who was an engineering lecturer and my engineer aunty for words of advice. Somehow, they tried to make me to choose the latter for various reasons.

At the same time, I was really grateful the fact that I did my A Level in an international school which had a special department handling higher education matters. Since medical applicants had to apply to UK earlier than other fields, we were preparing for our applications even before I have finished my Year 11 (lower Six form). We had to come out with a personal statement as well as doing attachments in hospital.

I still remember how I had difficulty to write an essay on why would I want to be a doctor. The typical answer; "to help people" was no longer accepted. They demanded me to read more regarding the profession and perhaps to include some experiences that I observed during my hospital attachment and related it to scientific facts. At one point I almost gave up since the tutor kept on making me to alter my essay. She said that my essay did not show strong reasons and that I lack of enthusiasm in it.

I also had to undergo a mock interview session organised by my tutors in order to prepare beforehand. We were given with a thick booklet on the common questions that interviewers would usually ask and that we had to practice answering confidently. It was not easy guys!

I remember that it was during my Surgical elective in 2010 in Brunei General Hospital that I made up my mind about it. I was shadowing a Surgical medical officer and I noticed that his life was always on the move. One day, he would be doing ward rounds, then the next he would be going into the OTs then later on, he would be doing clinics. So i thought to myself that probably I would enjoy being on the move too and that I did not have to be stuck at my work desk the whole day. Furthermore, hospital is also a fully air-conditioned place too.

I also did weekly attachment at a private GP for about 3 months just to expose myself with the world. Here I met with a great private GP who kept on discouraging me from day 1!! He told me how his lady doctor friends ended up getting married at later age due to commitments, and that his non-doctor friends earn way much more than him and that our medical students life would be miserable due to long hours and numerous exams. He even mentioned that in the next coming decades, Doctor's lifes will be competitive and the doctors will be oversupplied. Again, at some point i did feel like giving up on the profession.

However, by the end of it I took his words as a challenge to make me pursuit the life. So I do not actually have a real reason on why I do want to be a doctor specifically. I guess all the experiences that I have gained throughout attachments have made me more comfortable with the life and made me to go forward. Mind you guys, I did all the attachments before i even entered the medical school. I had not even completed my A level yet at that time. Hence, I was well aware of what I was putting myself into such as long working hours, competitive student's life, sacrifices that I have to make with my family and friends.

Hence, to all the aspired young doctors to be, I would really encourage you to expose yourself with the medical career way before you enter medical school. Start as early as possible, attach yourself to a private GP during your weekends. Sacrifice your holidays by doing attachment at the hospitals. I was really glad of doing it beforehand since it gives u the advantage compared to other applicants. The interviewers will definitely think that you are committed and hence, can see the passion that you have.

1 shout outs!:

Sakinah Raain said...

I love reading ur post.. i hope u continue updating ur life as a medical doctor.. ;)

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