Medicine Personal Statement
Unlike many people who aspire to become a doctor, I did not want to study medicine when I was younger. Growing up, my misguided conception of the medical profession did not extend beyond notions of GPs who spent their days disinterestedly treating minor ailments. However, my experiences as a research biochemist shattered this misconception, and have led me to seek to embrace the manifold mental, physical, intellectual and personal challenges and rewards of a career in medicine.
As an adolescent I enjoyed studying sciences, and consequently chose to study biochemistry at university. My passion for the subject was intensified during my year abroad at Pennsylvania State University, where I was able to put the theory I had learnt into practice in a lab project on HIV research. Realising that the work I was involved in could play a part, however small, in the ultimate goal of finding a cure for the disease, the experience gave me my first true appreciation of the power of science to alleviate suffering.
This feeling was given further impetus through the PhD research that I carried out on adult stem cells, the aim of which was to find a marker specific to this type of stem cell. What particularly interested me was that the end result, namely the identification of the marker, could be used in clinical trials and perhaps led to an enhanced regenerative effect, and therefore indirectly exert a positive impact on people’s lives. The outlook of the medics who I shared a lab with that, whilst research work was intellectually stimulating, it lacked the deeper satisfaction that applying medical knowledge to help people who were suffering, resonated deeply within me.
It is a viewpoint that I came to strongly agree with even before beginning my current work as a postdoctoral researcher studying ovarian cancer, and intensified by the work placements and voluntary work that I have been involved in. A placement in which I shadowed a gynaecologist gave me an insight into the personal qualities that doctors must possess. The gynaecologist was able to demystify the complexities of patients’ conditions for them and provide firm reassurance in what could have been highly traumatic moments for the patients; through this I learnt that good communication skills and empathy are a vital part of being a doctor. I have also been gaining a more hands-on experience of treating patients through volunteering with St. John’s Ambulance. Since the beginning of this year I have been part of the team that works at Manchester United’s home games. The experience of being part of a team that treats the injured or unwell and putting into practice what I have learnt at training sessions has made it clear in my mind that I would like to pursue a career where I can channel my scientific expertise into helping people.
A year spent travelling in South America has given me the belief that I possess the necessary interpersonal skills to succeed as a doctor. I greatly enjoyed meeting people from different cultures and learning about their lives. From the trip I learnt that I am an amenable person who people are comfortable talking to and confiding in. My response to the challenges of the trip, such as embarking on mountaineering expeditions and overcoming language barriers, also taught me that I thrive on daily challenges.
My years as a biochemist have, in addition to demonstrating that I have the academic pedigree to study medicine, stimulated a development of my outlook on the part I wish to play in the scientific community. From a starting point of enjoying science as an abstract discipline, I now see it as a basis for a career in which I can help people. Through the work experience I have undertaken and the insights of the medics who I worked with, I believe I have gained a good understanding about how very challenging a profession medicine is, but in the process also come to the firm conclusion that it is a career I will enjoy and excel in.
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