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doc2doc interviews... NCantley
What made you want to study medicine?
To study Medicine was a decision I came to gradually over the course of my time at grammar school. Throughout the first few years of school I loved going to science classes and especially when the human body was the subject of interest. I enjoyed learning how all the different parts of the body work together and the utter complexity to the systems that keep us all alive. Then as I moved into GCSEs I came to the conclusion I wanted to study medicine because of the opportunities it afforded me to learn so much about us as humans. Not only how we work normally- but to be able to see our body's repair themselves through doctor's help and see an individual visibly get better. Medicine is unique in what it allows you to do and many people will never see in their lifetimes the things that you can experience JUST as a medical student.
What specialties are you interested in?
I am very interested in combining a clinical and academic career in the future. I am coming to the end of my second summer research studentship at the university I study at and have fallen in love with the academic side of medicine in addition to the clinical side. Clinical specialities I am interested in include Cardiology and Neurology but I am very much keeping my options open for now. I will hopefully have a better idea after I finish my first set of proper clinical attachments this coming year.
What’s been the most important lesson you've learnt as a medical student?
That you can learn so much about a disease just by listening to patients. So many times as a medical student when learning about taking a patient history you worry too much about what question you need to ask next and forget to just listen to the patient- (especially when it comes to OSCEs). Patients have amazing stories to tell about their illness and the unique ways it affects them as individuals that you can learn so much more just by listening.
What has been your best moment at medical school?
Well I have only finished two years of medical school so my experiences which I can draw from are pretty limited. Strange as it may be it was when I could hear a heart murmur in a patient I saw on attachment clearly for the first time and be able to guess correctly what murmur it was from the knowledge I had learnt in lectures. It puts things in perspective when you can go from all of the lectures and learning all of that information, to learning the clinical significance of that information and then being able to use that information in clinical practice. It is a very rewarding experience.
And your worst?
A difficult one. Whilst you may think this is a cop out- no experiences really come to mind. Sure there have been plenty of times I have made a howler of a mistake during a tutorial or when on the wards with my clincal teacher at the time or forgotten to do a step in a clinical exam of a patient in an OSCE. Yet, when I look at experiences like those with perspective, all of them dwindle into insignificance when I remember how many good experiences I have had.
What advice would you give students considering applying to medical school?
Don't study medicine because you feel you should or you feel you have to. Instead study medicine because you geniunely want to. So many times people apply for medicine because they are the smartest at school or because they feel their parents want them to. Do not feel pressurised into making this decision. Think about what you genuinely want to do after school. If the answer is medicine then GREAT!! Then once you have decided you want to study medicine then go for it with all your might- the application process is a long one. BUT I can say as a medical student that all of the effort you put into the UCAS form, the aptitude tests, the interview preparation and your final exams is ALL worth it 100% when you make it to that first patient encounter or class that inspries you to say 'yep I have made the right decision.'
Most importantly GOOD LUCK!!!!
What’s been your favourite doc2doc discussion of all time?
Ooooohh, a difficult one. I think although it is only a recent one- the discussion I started about who else is a medical student on this great network. You forget sometimes that as you worry about your own exams and your own difficulties as a medical student, that there is a whole network of people strewn right across the world who are having to deal with similar situations. It would be great to see even more people join the site as students and build up a really great network that we can all share experiences.
What do you do with your time when you when not studying?
Well I have played the trombone for most of my life now (12 years I think). I love being able to dettach slightly from all the science once in a while and be able to enjoy playing in the music ensembles around the university. I also sing a bit as a choral singer in a local choir in Belfast. Music has almost always been the other 'half' to my life so to speak and I hope to be able to keep it on whatever speciality I hopefully go into.