Seeing patients suffering from dengue fever whilst on a hospital placement in Bangladesh made me question how reactions that occur at a molecular level can cause so much havoc to us. Dengue is one of many illnesses without a current treatment, which illustrated to me the limitless opportunities in medical science. Through exploring the incredibly intricate mechanisms of our body we can discover the solutions to these unresolved medical issues; this challenge and the possible reward gained from it is what drives me to be a part of this venture.
Completing my EPQ on the effect of Aspirin on Lynch syndrome and bowel cancer has extended my passion for medical sciences. I found learning about the cyclooxygenase-2 biochemical pathway and the inhibitory effects of aspirin particularly interesting, specifically in the context of tumour biology. Most fascinating to me is the modification of angiogenesis through the suppression of thromboxane and how that can impact the cancer’s development. Evaluating Aspirin as a potential cure made me realise the complexities involved in medical research and the various aspects that need to be considered before therapies can be translated into clinical practice. Doing an EPQ gave me an insight into university level studies and allowed me to improve my independent learning and organisational skills, which will be invaluable at undergraduate level.
My interest and commitment to study medical sciences was reinforced by a placement in Neurology, which provided a precious view on the challenges facing doctors. I witnessed the physical and emotional stress under which the doctors operate but also saw the rewards of being able to have a positive impact on the life and wellbeing of patients and their families. I also learned about the importance of patient-doctor interactions. I saw a patient who has difficulty with speaking due to Neurofibromatosis type 2; I found it hard to follow what he was saying, yet the consultant was clearly able to understand him. From this I saw the significance of empathy and the need to be able to communicate strongly with patients and colleagues alike. To improve my own communication, I decided to volunteer at the Communication and Interaction Resource Base in my school, where I mentored a year 8 student who has Asperger’s syndrome.
Mentoring year 7 students and helping in year 10 maths lessons as well as volunteering at a residential home have improved my interpersonal skills. By working with people with various ages and needs, I have learned to adapt myself in order to engage with the needs of individuals so that I can most effectively work with them. I believe this is an essential skill in all branches of medical science, as working well with colleagues and communicating adequately with patients is essential for their overall welfare and treatment.
Working as a nursing assistant in a Haematology ward has allowed me to gain a greater understanding into the running of a ward. Being part of a multidisciplinary team, I was able to appreciate the strong communication between the various staff and how they worked in unison to help patients. While caring for patients with myeloma I became curios about how the chemotherapy drug Melphalan functions. I learned from a variety of articles that Melphalan operates my attaching an alkyl group to a guanine base, thereby interrupting DNA replication which introduces cytotoxicity against the cancerous plasma cells. To me, this demonstrated the astonishing power of medical science; the connection between our understanding of the human body and therapeutic advance in order to sustain and improve life is breathtaking.
Studying medical sciences at university will help me fulfill an ambition to be a part of a community committed to medical advances and will also provide a firm understanding of the concepts and processes which I will be able to apply at a later point as I hope to study graduate medicine and conduct research.