Working in the NHS before Med School

I never saw myself loving my job as much as I do. I’m forever filling in my family and friends on the funny and interesting stuff from work, and it was during one of the many work-related conversations that made me realise that yes, I do love my job, because I can’t seem to stop talking about it, even after almost two years!

I believe it has a lot to do with my colleagues though. I work with such a fantastic bunch of individuals who make each day bearable, despite the super intense and stressful days that we often face. I mean, there are also people who make you want to run away and hide too, but which work place doesn’t? ūüėõ

I’ve mentioned it here and there but to summarise, I work in theatres at a hospital in the outskirts of London. I am based in an¬†emergency theatre, which means that I see a variety of procedures from all sorts of specialties being carried out on a daily basis. I do also work in some elective lists, but emergency is my home. When I was assigned to being a permanent member of the emergency team, all I could think of was how much I’ll be able to see, learn and most of all, take away with me if I were to get into med school!

Writing this post a week before handing in my resignation makes me smile at how far I have come. But I feel a sense of sadness too, knowing that it is time for me to move on with the next chapter of my life. I applied for this job in the hope that it would provide me with the necessary experience to make an informed decision as to whether medicine was definitely the career I wanted to pursue.

… It most definitely did!

I have learnt so much, and I know it will be of so much use one day. My understanding of surgical equipment, instruments and how to scrub properly will be so valuable for when I start surgery placement in a few years, and my experiences of working within a multi-disciplinary team will stay with me forever. The importance of team work and bringing in various skill sets to achieve the common goal of maintaining patient safety will always be of utmost importance.

The times when things haven’t necessarily gone to plan have also been eye-opening. The way individuals work together to make a plan for when the bed manager comes in to tell us there’s only one ITU bed for three patients who require critical care post-op, or when there are two equally urgent emergency cases with only one theatre available. Every experience has come with such important lessons.

If someone told me back in 2015 that I was going to take two years out after my first degree before getting into med school, I would’ve been so stressed out. I would’ve questioned whether I have the patience and energy to keep trying.

But today, if you asked me whether I regret the time it has taken me to get into med school? I would say no, most definitely not. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, and I am honestly so grateful that it has taken me this long. Working in the NHS before medicine has probably been the best thing I have done for myself. I know the experiences alone have changed me as a person and I have matured a lot more, as well as developing a realistic understanding of what a career in medicine will entail.

I knew this job was never going to be permanent, but I never knew I would end up learning so much and most importantly, as I said at the start of this post, I did not see myself enjoying a job quite as much as I do!

To the nurses, doctors and other professionals I have met on my journey, I thank you for all that you have helped me realise, and for everything you have taught me ūüôā .

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I GOT INTO MEDICAL SCHOOL!

I did it.

I actually did it.

After all the dreaming, it’s no longer a dream. And funnily enough, I found out almost five months ago (Asian timing, allow me). But it’s only starting to sink in now, because I’ll be heading off in September, and it’s August tomorrow! And it just happened to be an offer from my first choice med school! ūüėÄ

This offer came after two post-interview rejections. It was safe to say that when I saw that “something has updated on UCAS Track” e-mail for the third time, I was already expecting to skim my eyes over the words “unsuccessful”, “declined” and “withdrawn”. I was desensitised to the rejections, especially as my second rejection was awfully painful (I genuinely thought that I had a chance of getting an offer at that particular med school as I felt like the interview went better than the others).

I was at work having my lunch break when I checked my e-mails. When I saw the word “offer”, the first thing I did was log out of UCAS Track. Then I logged back in, typing my password in with trembling hands. I saw it again, that word “offer” was ACTUALLY there. I turned to my colleagues next to me, told them I got into med school and then just broke down. The entire coffee room looked in my direction wondering what was going on, until some of my colleagues started screaming and ran over to hug me. I remember shaking so much and I just cried as I planted my face into a colleagues shoulder.¬†I then ran into the theatre I was working in that day and announcing it to the nurses and surgeons, as they had literally been asking me whether I had any news just a matter of hours beforehand.

News at my workplace spreads like wildfire. Before I knew it, everyone seemed to be aware! I hadn’t even called my family because I kept crying and everyone was just buzzing around me. Eventually I got around to calling my parents and other half. Their reactions were just priceless. I will forever cherish those three phone conversations I had that day!

The one thing I am grateful about is the fact that I didn’t give up.¬†Sometimes, the easiest thing to do felt like giving up. I am glad I didn’t let people’s opinions get in the way of my journey. I’m so glad I didn’t take the easy way out and go to Europe. For once, I value my stubbornness, as the one thing I kept saying (to the brown aunties) was that I wasn’t going to give in and go to Europe, but I was going to try for as long as I could and get into a UK medical school.

Now don’t get me wrong, no disrespect to anyone studying med in Europe (you guys are brave as hell) but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. I did my first degree alongside medics and I saw what UK med school courses were like and I had friends in Europe telling me it’s nothing like the UK and only to come if I had literally no other choice. Medicine is incredibly hard to get into as it is. I felt like I would truly value my achievement of getting in if I felt the real pressure and persevered through all the hurdles, instead of applying to somewhere that didn’t require that much from you prior to being accepted. Also I’ve heard enough horror stories about the super high pass marks and about people who haven’t been able to get jobs straight away once coming back to the UK (in fact met one just the other day…) so yeah, I’d rather avoid that stress.

Anyway, it honestly took a very long time for this all to feel real. I’m really starting to feel it now as 1) it’s September soon and 2) I have to hand my notice in next week! It’s so weird… I’ve been working for over a year and a half and I have to leave soon, but I’m leaving because I achieved all that I needed to achieve from working there. I’m going to be so upset on my last day, that’s for sure! I have made some amazing friends at work who have been SO supportive of everything I’ve gone through within the last two years.

As well as the friends at work who have had to put up with me moaning about UCAS, UKCAT and interviews, my friends from my first degree have been incredible (as usual!) They have supported me throughout my journey, from giving me buckets of advice, checking numerous personal statement drafts and helping me to prepare for interviews (I guess having medic friends and a medic other half has its perks!!) But most of all, they (like all of my family) have just believed in me throughout, and have just been there for me.

So in a nutshell, if you have a dream, work towards it. No one can get in the way of your dreams unless if you let them. Use demotivating words as your motivation to prove people wrong!

I’m only starting to feel it, but man, I’m about to start the next chapter of my life and it’s safe to say, I’m excited! ūüėÄ

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Brown Girl Vs Applying to Med School

Throughout this years application cycle, I have said to myself that I don’t want that many people knowing about my business. I mean, at the end of the day, not everyone needs to know every tiny detail about your life, right? But now, I¬†feel like I am in a place where I am ready to tell everyone what the past two years have been like for me ūüôā .

Applying to study medicine is stressful enough. But being brown adds even more stress to the pot. The second people clock on to your desire to study medicine, they expect it to happen instantly and question why you haven’t started if you seem to be taking some time to get into med school. Not realising that in the UK (and I’m sure its the same case in places like America, Australia etc) it is actually a hoop jumping exercise. It literally takes over a year to do all of the following:

  1. Revise for and sit some horrible entrance exams
  2. Complete UCAS and your personal statement without sounding big headed
  3. Research which schools appeal to you and narrow them down to a max of four choices
  4. Wait a lifetime for interview invites
  5. Prepare for interviews when you receive an interview invitation
  6. Travel around the country for interviews and spend money on hotels and train tickets
  7. Wait for weeks/months post interview until you hear something
  8. If successful, start in September the following year

In between all of this, you will also without a doubt end up doing the following:

  1. Question what the meaning of life is
  2. Contemplate on whether you will ever get into medical school
  3. Develop an addiction to checking TSR (The Student Room)
  4. Have regular break downs until crying becomes the norm
  5. Lose hope over and over again
  6. Get obsessed with refreshing your emails
  7. Jump at every time you see/hear an email notification
  8. Start developing a strong hate towards emails from New Look, ASOS etc
  9. Dread having to go through the whole process again

For me, not telling people was probably the best decision I made. This meant there was no added pressure from people asking how it’s going, whether I have had interviews etc. I only told those closest to me and my colleagues at work. I made sure not to tell the whole brown¬†squad because before you know it, the whole community would find out. Funnily enough, somehow somewhere down the line it leaked and more people got to know. But let’s not get into that ūüėõ .

In this post from a long time ago (Brown Girl Vs. Asian Uncles)¬†I mentioned how this uncle was telling me what he would’ve done if he was in my shoes, and how he would’ve just gone straight into medicine without leaving a year or two in between. This made me very angry, because he made it sound like I was wanting to delay getting into med for no reason. But it wasn’t.

In an ideal world, I would’ve liked to have gone straight into med school the summer after my first degree. It was me understanding how competitive medicine is, wanting to fully focus on completing my first degree and getting the grades needed to apply.¬†Wanting to take time out to work in the NHS, gain valuable experience and save up.

Do I regret the choice that I made? Not at all. ūüôā

So yes, my first application the summer following completion of my first degree didn’t go well. But it was my first application and this was expected. I applied to competitive universities with a weak UKCAT score. But I applied because I had nothing to lose. I ended up getting four pre-interview rejections. But this simply fuelled my desire to make the following years application worth it. I learnt where my weaknesses were and focused on them. I started working in a place where I was learning and seeing so much. I started my UKCAT revision early (but not too early) to give myself the best shot at achieving a decent score. I was also making new friends. I was loving my job. I was earning money. I was content with life.

I did the UKCAT again the following year and it went better than expected. A month later, I got a last minute interview invite to one of the universities that had initially rejected me earlier on in the cycle. Due to limited time to prepare adequately, I didn’t get in (and in many ways, I am grateful). But I went to the interview anyway, to experience what the process is like, see where I struggle the most, and make sure I work on those areas in time for the following years application.

It is so important to be smart with where you apply to. You need to apply to universities that are going to view your stats as strengths, to maximise your chances of getting an interview. Calling up and asking for cut off’s from previous years is key, to get a rough indication of where you may stand. When the national deciles were released, I was so relieved. My score was within the top decile. I had a chance. And I took my chances and¬†applied¬†to four competitive universities yet again.

The chance I took paid off. I got four interviews. I prepped. I felt overwhelmed. I received¬†post interview rejections, one which really knocked my confidence as I thought I had a decent shot at getting an offer. But at the end of the day, it’s a number crunching game. There’s only so many people they can take on at each university. Getting a rejection doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Graduate Entry is known to be ridiculously difficult. But it’s so hard to remember all that when you receive a rejection, and you do nothing but feel like you’re worthless ūüė¶ .

My first post-interview rejection I saw coming, so I was only down about it for a day or so. My second post-interview rejection really hit me though РI was down about it for a whole week. After that, I sort of became desensitised to the whole process? I literally gave up hope with the other two universities. I decided to take a month or two to forget about everything and just decide on whether I have the energy to apply for the third time, whether I really wanted this, or whether it was time to go down a different route for good.

Applying to medicine has taught me so much. Not just about myself, but about the real world too. It really is an emotional rollercoaster, even before you’ve entered medical school. I really want to share what I have learnt about the process with others who will one day be in my position applying for Graduate Entry. I want to share the things that worked and didn’t work for me, and hopefully a bit of what I have to share¬†will help someone to achieve their own goal one day ūüôā .

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Reflections

As we have now welcomed in a new year, it is natural for everyone to take some time to reflect on how the previous year went. For me, 2016 was an eventful one to say the least, with a mix of both positive and not-so-positive moments.

The not-so-positive¬†periods were some of the most testing periods of my life so far. I went through situations I never thought I would ever have to deal with, sometimes with no idea of how things would get better. This was exceptionally difficult, as normally you can tell yourself that the light at the end of the tunnel will come… eventually. In some cases, I couldn’t see it, blinded by so much uncertainty.

I am grateful that I didn’t have to go through these times all alone, and as a result it really strengthened what I had with others in a similar position to myself, but sometimes it also caused problems. It was difficult to tell those closest to me what was happening, but as time passed, I was able to share some of my thoughts with a very few¬†important people in my life.

Despite the bad times, I would like to think that overall, the positives outweighed the negatives.

I am so grateful for the new things I achieved and the doors that opened for me. They gave me something to focus on and remember that even with the bad things that came, something good would come out of it eventually. I know some of the following things might be relatively minor, but to me they gave me the strength to keep going so I’m going to list a few of them ūüėÄ

  • After getting my provisional license five years ago, I finally got around to taking my theory test (& passed first time) and then after a few months of lessons I passed my driving test (first time too :D).
  • I sat one of the many horrible medical school entrance exams and actually did decently (still convinced it was purely down to luck though!) which gave me a little bit more hope and motivated me with¬†the long application process.
  • I bought my first car! Without financial help from the bank of mum and dad may I add! ūüėČ
  • Universities started getting back to me towards the end of the year, giving me goals to work towards to take the journey of trying to get into med school to the next level, something that has made things worth the stress.
  • By the end of 2016 I could say that I had been working full time for a whole year in a job that has taught me so much and given me the opportunity to see so much, along with the privilege of meeting people who¬†have been amazing to me ‚̧

So overall, 2016 has been interesting. Full of stress, tension, life lessons and also good times. But if this year taught me anything, it would be that no one is ever in a position to judge anyone. The happiest person in the public eye could be the saddest person, fighting the biggest battles behind closed doors. And also that everything really does happens for a reason.

But anyway, onwards and upwards. Interested to¬†see what the new year has to offer… ūüôā

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Just Another Wednesday

After a super exhausting day, I have finally reached¬†the one place I love going to¬†– my bed. I’m sitting here with heavy eyelids but the need to write a post is encouraging¬†me to stay awake for a little bit longer.

I’ve been trying to think of something to rant about, but surprisingly, it seems like I’m out of juice ūüėõ . So instead, I’ll talk about my Wednesday.

I had a standard 10 hour shift at work today. I haven’t really¬†said much about work¬†before so I’ll summarise it in a nutshell. I work in theatres and am based in an¬†emergency theatre, on the scrub side. However lately, I’ve found myself spending more time working¬†in other specialties. I’ve only been at work two days this week and already I’ve been in maxfacs, breast, vascular, gynae and colorectal.

This morning I was in a gynae theatre where they were having a joint gynae and colorectal¬†case. Gynae is probably one of those specialties that I feel least comfortable circulating in purely due to the lack of exposure I personally get with gynae cases. There was literally so much to prepare with so little time,¬†so I’m hoping all the running around I did helped to burn some calories ūüėõ

Anyway yes, it was a crazy morning, especially with only two of us to get everything for the scrub nurse and the surgeons. My afternoon was spent in emergency, with surprise surprise – another gynae case. Again it was a long afternoon, running around getting bits and bobs. It was a relief when home time came around!

It would’ve been nice to get home soon after leaving work but nah. Of course that didn’t happen. Traffic was so bad that a normal 10 minute journey turned into a 50 minute one. I also said to myself that I would go to the gym straight after work. To get to the gym, I have to drive past my road. Every time I have planned to go to the gym, I never make it past my¬†road. I instead turn into my road and go home.

But today, I was determined to change things. And yes, I made it past my road. I was on the way to the gym…

… But then I drove straight past the gym…

…¬†Aaaand went to¬†nearest supermarket and bought myself a Krispy Kreme.

Why? I don’t know, maybe because I wanted to treat myself because I made it past my road? I think that’s the second time I’ve treated myself for no real reason in the last week….

I have no self control. What is life.

I came home and started craving salmon and pesto pasta so I made sure I satisfied those cravings. Then baked a cake to take into work tomorrow. Now I’m in bed and excited to sleep but only just realised that I never ate my Krispy Kreme.

Ffs, should’ve just gone to the gym.

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Stress!

The stressing over medical school applications has restarted.

ARGHHHH

It has been a month since the UCAS deadline for med school¬†applications. And slowly it is creeping into that period of time where people around you are receiving emails inviting them to interview, and you’re constantly refreshing your emails in the hope of receiving something.

I recently received a¬†table with a list of all the UK med schools and when they start and finish sending interview invites out (if anyone wants this table, let me know!). Out of the four¬†universities I applied to, it lists three of them as starting their interview invites from December and one of them starting late-November. So technically, I still have a few weeks before the real stress begins. But I can’t help feeling super anxious already.

I JUST WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING ALREADY! Ugh. Even if it’s not the best news. Least it’s news of some sort.

I should go sleep. Give my brain a break from this all. Until tomorrow, when the whole cycle of stress repeats itself again. Yay!

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Asking For Too Much?

I’d like to think that I’m quite a patient person. I would have to be pushed quite far before I start to get a bit impatient.¬†When¬†I do eventually get to that point, I get super frustrated. But then again, who wouldn’t?

I do put my hands up though, for I am guilty of having some crazy¬†outbursts. But please note, those outbursts are literally me reacting to being so tired and frustrated of being so patient with¬†certain things over a long period of time. Some outbursts have left me questioning whether I have an anger management problem. For¬†those who have been misfortunate enough to witness¬†those outbursts, the answer would probably be a yes.¬†But that’s only because they see what I show at that moment. They don’t necessarily know how long I have silently battled with¬†the associated issues before the big outburst. But recently, I have been a lot calmer, which has been interesting.

This might¬†make me sound needy, but one thing I can’t deal with is a lack of attention. Not the sort of attention where I need to have all eyes on me, oh hell no. I mean the kind of normal attention that every individual deserves to have when you are interacting with another individual on a one-to-one basis.¬†Isn’t that what everyone wants?

And when you aren’t able to see people, is it really that difficult to dedicate a few seconds¬†to send a message? We live in a society¬†where people constantly carry their phones around with them and most of the time are actually on their phones. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all be sending messages every second of the day, I’m simply saying that anyone and everyone can dedicate a few seconds in a day to send at least one message. Or a message just letting the other person know that they are busy and¬†will get back to you soon. Or just don’t open the message to begin with if it’s a WhatsApp message to avoid the stress of the blue ticks ūüėõ

Anyway, if you need someone in your hour of need, and they are aware of this¬†and still don’t act, what more can you do? Especially if it keeps happening?

busy-to-text-back

Source: Pinterest

 

 

Peaks and Troughs

I wrote this post around six months ago¬†and completely forgot about it until now. I wasn’t sure whether to¬†just delete it¬†as my thought processes are currently pretty stable (and have been for a while). But I’ve decided to just post it anyway ūüėõ

This was written during a phase where I was finding it really difficult to cope with the uncertainty in my life. I had some wonderful people around me to talk to at the time, but there was only so much talking that I could do to make me feel better. So instead, I decided to write about it.



Peaks and troughs.

That sums up the past few months for me, in terms of my thought processes.

I knew that taking a year out would never be easy, but I didn’t quite expect it to be as depressing as it has been for me over the past few weeks. ¬†I mean, yes, I have experienced the slightly dull phases of where I question everything that I do, but those times often pass very quickly.

Aaaaand of course, it is all because of one thing РMedicine.

The peak moments are wonderful. Truly wonderful. They motivate me so much and the encouragement is all I need to face each day. My thought processes during this fabulous phase may be something along the lines of the following:

“Watching these doctors working and doing all these things make me want to be one of them”.

“I want to work hard towards my entrance exams so that I can be one step closer to getting an interview for med school”.

“I’m so grateful for having the opportunity to work in a¬†hospital environment, it’s simply reinforcing me to want to study medicine even more”.

“These doctors are so bloody inspirational”.¬†

But then the downhill troughs are the complete opposite. I find myself questioning EVERYTHING, which gets very stressful at times. It’s like a permanent internal battle in my head with my thoughts constantly fighting with each other.

It also doesn’t help that there’s this whole ongoing issue with the junior doctor contracts. If I do any extra reading about current affairs, it’s me updating myself with the contract issues, and seeing what other “facts” the media are claiming to be true, causing so much frustration amongst medics around the country.

“Do I want to put so much energy into getting into med school? Is it worth it? Should I¬†just give up?”

“Why am I still wanting to go for such an intense career when I know that my plan B would basically guarantee me a better quality of life?”¬†

“Am I going to let a political issue get in the way of something I have dreamed of for so long?”

“I have to take another year out.¬†What if this next year also gets me no where?”

Also another thing that really annoys me¬†is when people tell me how silly I am when¬†I say that I don’t want to go to Europe. Sorry but how does that make me silly? Don’t get me wrong, those who end up going to Europe are incredibly brave to leave everything and everyone behind and start a new life in a new country, all in the name of studying an exceptionally difficult course.

But it’s just not my cup of tea. I really want to get into a med school in the UK and I will exhaust all my options before I consider anything else. And no, I am not fussed about ‘getting older’ and no, I don’t see it as ‘wasting time’. I¬†have a degree in the bag, I’m not exactly doing nothing, I’m working full time, saving up some money, whilst also being able to live life a little.¬†Can we just accept that and move on already? ¬†

Anyway, I know that this ‘phase’ will get better with time. But it’s just been exceptionally hard to step out of it over the past few weeks. And it doesn’t help being brown and female.

The only thing I can do for now is remember WHY I’m feeling this way. It’s because I’m working towards something difficult. And not everything comes to us that easily right?

The best things come with perseverance.

I just need to remember that every journey is unique to every individual. And my journey is taking longer than I hoped, but then everything happens for a reason, and I should aim to fish out the positives in¬†every given situation. ūüôā

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I’m Back!

It has been WAY too long </3 . I have missed blogging a lot more than I initially thought!

It has been a couple of super hectic months. But either way, I shall be filling you all in with what has been going on. With all the details. Everything. Sorry not sorry¬†ūüėõ

Something I’ve just noticed is how the¬†frequency of my blog posts is embarrassingly not far off the number of times I’ve been to the gym…

… Let’s not even go there.

Expect posts about general life, med school application updates and of course, all served with a healthy dose of ranting/bitching/brown girl problems. ūüėČ

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In or Out?

EU referendum

Source: Snapchat

Today is a day that’ll go down in history.

A couple of decades down the line, students will be using textbooks to learn about the significance of 23rd June 2016 – The EU Referendum. Maybe the bitchiness of some of the campaigns might also be reflected in some of those textbooks?

I made it my priority (like most people) to make sure I read around the topic so that I could make an informed choice and decide for myself whether I was going to vote to stay or leave, instead of purely basing my decision on what the politicians were saying.

Aaaand it’s safe to say that the more reading I did, the more unsure I became.

I spent the last week or so sitting on the fence, fluctuating between voting to stay in and voting to leave. Most of my friends were firmly voting to stay, whilst a lot of my colleagues at work were wanting to leave. So I’d spend the day hearing arguments for leaving, and nights reading my friends expressing the need to stay¬†on WhatsApp. It has been great hearing so many different views from a range of different people though.

My parents drove me to the polling station straight after work. Even before getting out of the car, I found myself doing some last minute reading to make sure I was sure about what I was going to vote for.

I voted to stay in the EU.

I have my reasons for why leaving might also be a good shout, but I personally feel like there are great benefits that come with staying in the EU.

Leaving would create a lot of¬†uncertainty and we just wouldn’t¬†know about what could be waiting around the corner. Yes, a lot of things like secure borders,¬†less money¬†going into the EU, along with more control over decision making all sounds super attractive. But a lot of the problems that already exist are in the control of the current government and not necessarily something that can be blamed on the EU and other factors like¬†immigration and the top dogs over in Brussels.

But then again, the same can be said about staying. We don’t know what could happen over the next few months or years. Things might get worse. But the truth is, we cannot predict what may happen in the years to come. But I decided to vote to stay because I felt like it’s safer¬†to continue to being in a place where we have been for decades. Trading can continue the way it has been. Freedom of movement without a visa and opportunities to go to other EU countries¬†to work and study without the “red tape” are just a few of the great things that come with being in the EU, that I believe a lot of us take for granted.

Anyway, after sitting on the fence for a while, I am happy with the decision I made today. Who knows, I might completely regret this choice one day, or I will continue to be happy with it. But whatever happens, happens. And either way, we will have to face up to it.¬†It’s better to stay and have another referendum in the future if needs be, than leaving and being refused entry further down the line.

Also how is it fair to not allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote? I believe they have a voice as much as we do, and it is their futures on the line too.

But anyway, now it’s time to sit back and wait until our fate is revealed tomorrow!

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