Who or what inspired you to become a doctor, and why?
My first experience of a hospital was for grommets when I was two years old. I was so excited by the new environment I had to be sedated and spent the journey down to theatre fighting my mum who was holding me in the wheelchair.
Three years later I underwent heart surgery and was fascinated by 'the people in green'. Over the years I had numerous trips to hospitals or to my GP surgery and each time I came away 'fixed'. Whether it was Bell's palsy, tonsillitis or a broken foot, I always knew I could count on doctors to sort out the problem at hand. This was my view of doctors - that they fixed things. My passion for science and desire to help people on the background of my several dealings with the medical profession meant I never seriously considered any other career.
However, my inspiration truly came in medical school. During my intercalation year after becoming severely ill and admitted to hospital, I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. This was a huge blow for a 23 year old, regardless of my growing medical background. Being an inpatient for nine days opened my eyes to the world of medicine beyond the comfort of a supportive medical team and textbooks.
Being an inpatient was exhausting and distressing. Even with some understanding of hospitals I felt powerless. A momentary error by a tired FY1 meant I was almost readmitted after being discharged on a short course of steroids rather than one lasting six weeks. Without my medical knowledge, I would not have known this and a readmission would have been likely.
This was my view of doctors - that they fixed things.
Over the following 11 months I have battled to gain control of my disease with the support of my doctors. I have had more outpatients' appointments than I care to remember. I have sat waiting whilst feeling horrendously ill when the clinic has run late. I have had numerous intimate examinations and feel like I have little dignity left. This experience has allowed me to realise what it feels like to be a patient with a chronic condition.
Before coming to medical school being a doctor seemed like a glamorous role in the distant future. Now I will graduate in eight months' time with a year behind me that has enforced the principles of holistic medicine, more so than any placement I have had so far. My patient experience has been unfortunate but extremely valuable, particularly when I have spoken to others with the same condition.
Therefore, I am continuously inspired to become a doctor by patients with chronic diseases who put their lives in our hands day in, day out. In fact, I am probably more passionate about my future vocation now, as I am able to understand how it feels to be that patient. Every time I now have contact with patients regardless of age, gender or ethnicity, they truly inspire me to become a doctor and the best I can be.