Medicine is a career that I am fascinated and excited by. I am attracted to the prospects of continuously developing my scientific knowledge, and committing hours of care to patients. It is the career that will drive me to my full potential, and a career I will devote my life to. My fascination for neurology led me to shadow a neurologist at his neurophysiology clinic. I observed an electroencephalogram conducted on a patient, coming in with reports of declining performance in school. Analysis of the EEG confirmed the diagnosis of epilepsy.
Observing the patient during the EEG, I realised how easy it was for these seizures to go unnoticed. The consultant then informed the school of the diagnosis so he could receive the necessary support, highlighting the importance of holistic care. I learned that treating the patient is not enough to achieve quality care, we need to support the patient in their understanding of and dealings with the diagnosis.
This also demonstrated the importance of diagnostic tools in Modern Medicine; they diagnose diseases that humans cannot detect, providing the information required for effective care plans. I encountered this in my EPQ on the potential of Precision Medicine in Breast Cancer. I feel that this treatment paradigm could save funds for the NHS by reducing the frequency of Adverse Drug Reactions. However, it is not solely a Medical topic – it may have damaging social implications due to the potential misuse of genetic data. I am excited by new proteome analysis tools, such as QconKAT, and I believe advancements in biomarker detecting tools will shift Medicine to a more preventative approach, where disease can be detected and managed before the onset of symptoms.
Work experience has exposed me to the challenges of Modern Medicine. Shadowing a respiratory consultant, I witnessed the doctor confirm to patients that they had developed terminal Lung Cancer. I was overwhelmed by the professional dignity the doctor maintained, being clear with the diagnosis, but also being supportive in the way she answered questions in an honest but compassionate manner. I learned of the importance of being able to suppress your personal emotions to maintain a resilient yet caring manner with the patient.
Being a caring vocation, dealing with death will always be a difficulty for doctors. I realised that preventing death is not always possible. This observation was evident to me whilst on the cardio-respiratory ward. When a patient refused the life-saving surgery proposed to her, the doctor respected the autonomy of the patient, and continued onto palliative care. Prior to the consultation, the doctor explained to me his aim for the patient’s treatment; centred around the surgery. I could not help but feel a sense of frustration as the doctor’s plan to improve the health of the patient was not achieved, but I admired the way in which the doctor cooperated with the patient, to reach a joint decision on her treatment plan. Flexibility and cooperation with patients is necessary to give them an informed choice on their treatment.
This also taught me how finely orchestrated the decision-making process is. To ensure that the plan was robust and safe, thorough assessments were carried out by district nurses and the consultant. They discussed whether oxygen was safe for the patient to take home, which determined whether the patient could go home or not. Clear communication and careful analysis is essential in effecting quality care for patients.
Organising a Christmas Market on a limited budget developed my prioritisation skills, through deciding which stalls we could include. Helping year 7s improve their reading enhanced my attention to detail, as I tailored my teaching to their style of learning. I enjoyed monitoring their progress, and while success in Medicine is not always possible, compassion and communication skills are indispensable and always need to be practised.
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