This month’s feature is of Hafsah, a final year medical student from King’s College London.
What made you want to pursue medicine?
My dad is a Type 1 diabetic who unfortunately does have some complications from it. I remember him being hospitalised as a child. My brother has talipes and so you could say that I have had a lot of exposure to medicine from a very young age! I remember developing an interest in the science of the medicine from then on (I even had a Dorling Kindersley encyclopaedia of the human body which I remember I kept reading cover to cover!).
Having a lot of experience as a relative of a patient, I developed a lot of empathy towards people who were unwell as well as their families and so this fuelled my passion of wanting to help others – being a doctor seemed natural!
How was the process of applying? (Any tips)
It was a lot of hard work! I found that getting hospital experience was quite difficult as I am the first medic in my family. But I would say that Barts have an amazing programme and are quite happy to take on A Level students. I would not get super hung up on it though. Medical school admission tutors get bored of seeing the same applicant time and time again so it can work in your favour to do something different! I compensated my lack of hospital experience with other experiences which showed that I have worked on skills that a good doctor needs. For example, I was a volunteer support worker for young people with disabilities for two years.
Don’t forget what you love too! whether it is sports or reading – they want to see that you are able to have a life outside of medicine so you can avoid being succumbed to burnout.
I would also say to really familiarise yourself through the entry requirements of each medical school and apply based on your strengths. For example, if you have a really good UKCAT score, apply to a med school with a UKCAT cut off such as Barts. If you have amazing GCSEs, then apply to Birmingham (double check though as I applied a long time ago!).
Finally, look at the learning style for each medical school and apply to a university that fits you best. For example, some universities do problem based learning and others have a more traditional approach and teach through lectures and small group tutorials. Some are a combination of the two!
What is your medical school like?
My cohort is pretty big (450 students/year) so whenever I go to an event or exam, I see faces that I have never seen before! What I love about King’s is that there is a lot of history in the hospitals you train at and they are world renowned so it feels like such a privilege. Also, walking around some of the buildings feels like you are in Harry Potter so what’s not to love?!
We also have students from many different backgrounds on our course too which is so lovely to see. I remember meeting people who have done a previous degree in drama for example before deciding to pursue a career in medicine. Everyone is welcome and there is a real sense of camaraderie.
Do you have any plans for the future?
Yes! I am really looking forward to starting F1 shortly (and a little nervous!) and I am hoping to specialise in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I’ve always been really interested in women’s health and O&G provides the perfect balance between medicine and surgery. I also feel that pregnancy is a massive event in a woman’s life and it is a time when mental health issues can surface. I really hope to keep perinatal mental health at the core of my practice.
I am also really interested in medical education so I hope to spend some time teaching the doctors of tomorrow!
Any last comments/tips for future medical students?
Really work on yourself before pursuing medicine. Medical School has been the most amazing but also one of the most stressful times of my life. Make sure you have got self care down to a tee and if you do struggle with mental health issues, do seek help to ensure it is well managed so you can handle all the challenges medical school can throw at you.
But enjoy the journey, you’ve chosen to become a part of the most amazing profession!
Feel free to follow Hafsah on Instagram as she is more than happy to answer any of your questions.
If you would like to feature next month, then feel free to get in touch with me.