What's it like to study medicine?
Many people have thought about becoming a doctor if only fleetingly but what’s it really like to study medicine?
Well one person who knows first-hand is Charlotte Talbot, a medical student working for the NHS in Cornwall.
“Medicine has always appealed to me,” she admits.
“When I was at school, I loved studying the sciences, but knew that a regular office or research job would not have been for me - which is what attracted me to medicine.
“The idea of everyday being different and having to adapt to challenging situations seemed much more exciting than any other degree course I had seen.”
While she was at school she spent a week undertaking work experience at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and spent more days there when she was at college.
“I was very fortunate to follow doctors and nurses around the wards to see what it was really like working in a hospital,” she explains.
“Without this experience, it would have been difficult to appreciate what was involved in being a doctor, but also I found this experience to be a great motivator when I applied to medicine. The doctors were very supportive and helpful, giving lots of useful hints and tips and invaluable insight into what it is like to be in their position.”
She admits competition for a place is fierce.
“One of the biggest challenges is making yourself stand out against the crowd. It helps to have volunteering experience in the community, other activities, and some clinical work experience.
“Everyone who is applying to medicine is intelligent, so what makes you stand out are the human factors.”
But she reckons it’s well worth it.
“Currently I am enjoying studying medicine, seeing how the anatomy links with the physiology and how this links with the actual patient’s pathology.”
And she says, whilst there is a lot of studying now, one day she will be out on the wards and helping actual patients.
“Currently I am not sure about what speciality I would like to go into. I would like to gain more clinical experience in a wide range of areas before deciding and that is absolutely something that I can do,” she says. Finding an area best suited to her skills is something she is looking forward to.
As for those seriously thinking about taking medicine she counsels they should start early.
“Start early with the work experience, volunteer as much as possible, get clinical work experience, get active in your local community. You need to show the university that you are a well-rounded individual, who can be empathetic with patients but also other members of a team.”
And she adds: “Look carefully at where you apply and see where you would fit best.”
But she says most importantly find the time to ‘relax and enjoy activities that you enjoy.’