Maya Shah has just completed her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) at the University of Central Lancashire in North West England. Originally from Nairobi in Kenya, Maya tells us about her university experience.
I’ve wanted to study Medicine and become a Doctor since the age of 13 and all through secondary school that was my goal. I worked hard and pushed through exams, however, in my iGCSEs I didn’t achieve the grades I wanted. Nevertheless, I continued to pursue my dream and defied people who said I couldn’t do it. This was my dream, I had to beat the odds.
During my application process, I got rejected from most other UK medical schools I applied for, except the University of Central Lancashire. When I got the offer, it felt surreal; someone out there had seen my passion and wanted me to follow through.
As for most international students, coming to live in the UK was a big step for me, never mind studying Medicine. I was a wide-eyed 19-year-old just wanting to make the most of the opportunity and turn my dream into a reality.
The first few months of Year 1 were daunting, exciting and fun all at once. I found the lectures hard at first, and the amount of information felt overwhelming, but the Faculty were always kind and supportive throughout.
At first, I felt lonely, which is completely natural being in a new place and new country on my own for the first time, but meeting like-minded people really helped me settle in quickly.
The excitement set in when we started placement; I was interacting with actual patients right from Year 1! Initially I felt that I was drowning in essential facts and content, but the placement experience showed me why I was here and gave me the fuel to push through.
I passed my first year and was now preparing for the new challenges of Year 2. I found it easier thanks to my study experience in Year 1, so I knew what I was doing. I had settled into life at university and Preston, and had found a home away from home, including knowing the places to go when I needed to release stress and enjoy nature.
The workload felt like it became more manageable and I began to understand the content rather than cramming. In Year 2, we had placement once a week, which was vital to help consolidate what I was learning in lectures. I felt more comfortable on placement.
Exams came and went, although I passed most of my modules. I did unfortunately fail one, which made me question my abilities as well as the reality that I would need to do a resit, which I did pass. Looking back, I think the resit made me work harder, practicing the skills over and over again.
The first 2 years studying MBBS flew by, and before I knew it, I was in Phase 2, the real balancing act of studying and clinical placements in hospital.
There was so much to plan for outside of being on placement, such as daily food, transport, enough time to sleep, studying and downtime for myself. That is a lot to fit into 24 hours in the day!
But as each month passed, I got better and better at organising and perfecting my time management. I was heading into Year 4 feeling confident and excited for what was to come.
Unfortunately, in March 2020, the global pandemic was embedded in the UK. I quickly adapted to online learning and preparations for my final exams without placements. I missed placements and it’s a big part of learning in Medicine, but I was thankful for the experience I already had and was looking forward to helping do my part in the pandemic after my exams.
With help and support, I worked hard and successfully passed my exams. This was it; I was about to start my final year of Medical School!
Throughout these 5 years, I have grown and gained confidence along the way, and felt more like a Doctor than a student – something that this course really helps you to become through the early patient contact.
Having passed my final OSCES and exams, I am now a qualified Doctor and there is no better feeling!
I applied to do my foundation doctor training in LNR (Leicestershire, Northampton and Rutland) I have just moved to my new apartment in Leicester and start working in Kettering from next week. As I work through my foundation years, I will decide on which part of medicine I want to specialise in.
Studying MBBS at the University of Central Lancashire has been a roller-coaster and a test of mental strength but through it I made friendships for life and developed resilience that will help me face the next challenges life has to offer.
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