Medicine Personal Statement (Cambridge University)
I want to be able to understand the human body and repair it when it malfunctions. During my work experience at King's College Hospital in the liver transplant unit, I saw much open surgery carried out on the abdomen. One of the most amazing moments was when I saw the small intestine moving outside the body by the process of peristalsis. This has led me to start reading the 'Essentials of Anatomy and Physiology' by Gerard J. Tortora and Bryan Derrickson. While at King's I learned about the lengthy and vital process of scrubbing up, as I was allowed to feel the heart beating by touching the underside of the diaphragm, an
incredible experience as I could feel the human body in action.
The first surgery I saw was a "lap chole" which was brilliant as I understood the steps in the procedure as I had read about it in 'Complications' by Atul Gawande; it was astounding to witness what I had read. By reading this book I have learnt more about the surgical profession and how medicine is in the grey zone, far more often than black and white, in accordance to certainty and decision making. Being a doctor is like being a detective. In medicine everything has to be taken into account with diligence, as every patient scenario is different. For example a transplant patient was given a liver that was not in the best condition, but as the patient was Hepatitis C positive it was deemed advantageous.
I saw a man become an empty carcass as his major organs were taken out. The retrieval procedure was very similar to major surgery, as it was carried out with dignity although the donor was dead. This was unexpected as I had earlier asked the transplant surgeons whether they would put themselves on the Donor list. They said "no", and when questioned further said they were uncomfortable with the way you are treated. After witnessing the procedure I disagree. The man's heart was to be used in warm heart beating transplant trials.
I witnessed Dr Jassem tell the relatives of a post-operative patient, who was deteriorating rapidly in the ICU, the probable outcome of death. Dr Jassem spoke with honesty, patience and most importantly with compassion. If compassion is lost then a doctor should probably no longer practice medicine.
I believe lateral and forward thinking in medicine is vital. It is wonderful to learn by shadowing a specialist, however it is crucial to evaluate the clinical methods currently used and to always be able to justify the choice for specific treatments and not rely on the fact that it has been used for many years by experts or because it has always been done that way.
Dr Jassem taught me the importance of taking one's field further through research. After reading 'How Doctors Think' by Dr Jerome Groopman I understand the importance of good bedside manners when diagnosing patients, since the majority of medical mistakes are medical misdiagnosis rather than technical mistakes. Another vital component to take into account when choosing the best treatment for a patient is the patient's values, therefore good communication is vital as a doctor. Becoming a reflective practitioner is essential.
As Head Girl I help organise Sixth Form Society, a debating society held after school. Currently I am also head of the fundraising committee and we have pledged to raise at least £180 to keep supporting a child in Burundi.
I realise that medical school is only the first step in becoming an excellent doctor, but the experiences I have undergone so far have reinforced my appetite to succeed in this course.