Research Gap Year or Straight into Med

Recently, I’ve hit a cross-road. This is my dilemma/confusion. Should I apply for Medical School this year and potential enter next year September – so I’ll be starting medical school straight after I graduate with my first degree (completed in 3 years) OR should I apply for medical school next year, and have a whole year off to do a paid-research internship/job to help pay for medical school tuition and living expenses?

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Source: Google Images

(http://crossroads2recovery.org/uploads/3/4/8/2/34829116/1941473_orig.jpg)

Proverbs 3:5 ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart, AND lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths’      

Psalm 37:5 ‘Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass’

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.

So here’s the deal. I would love to enter medical school straight off graduation, just because of that feeling of finally making it and not having to continuously doubt about the ‘will i get in, or not get in’ scenario. To know that I’ve finally arrived, and working towards something I am so deeply passionate about and as cliché as it might sound, something (medicine) I cannot imagine myself not doing – I  literally can’t think of anything else that would bring joy of knowing you have had a positive impact on someone’s life. To be a doctor is a privilege. You are given the opportunity to help those in dire need and provide care for the unfortunate. YES. I would love to enter straight in.

On the other hand, as a UK-resident, graduate-entry medicine is considered a post-graduate degree. Due to this complete funding from the government is not given and you are required to pay some fees. From my research; the grad-route is a four year course for students with an undergraduate degree in the experimental sciences (first degree requirement is subject to the school you apply to). The first of the four year course must be self-funded (* £3,465) with the rest of the tuition fee to be paid either by a tuition fee loan, bursary, or scholarship. For years 2-4, students from England and Wales are able to apply for NHS funding to help fund tuition fees – paying £3,465 first. The rest of the tuition fees can be paid through a tuition fees loan, NHS bursary (up to 4,491), NHS grant, and university bursary. So you’re basically covered for years 2-4. Maintenance loan for living costs can be applied for from years 1-4.

Summary – you have to self-fund the first year of graduate-entry medicine of (£3,465) and tuition fee loan can be applied for the remaining fee. A bursary or scholarship can aid in the remainder fee. For years 2-4, the NHS will pay the first £3,465 and remainder can be paid by a tuition fee loan (that you are not eligible to apply for), bursary, grant, etc.

Aside from the tuition fees (total £9,250 each year) there are living expenses to pay for. Yes, the NHS bursary, university bursary, grants, and maintenance loan can provide the helping hand, but as I would like to apply to a majority of London-based medical schools – living in London is pretty expensive. I am considering living outside London too. I guess if you think about it, the funding isn’t so bad only if you’re eligible for the bursaries, grants, loans – and you could always get a scholarship. But I feel like, taking the year out to work does not only provide the financial need but would help me to develop the work ethic and discipline I need for medicine. Additionally, taking a year out to potentially do research does make me more of a competitive applicant. Applying to grad-route entry is REALLY COMPETITIVE. The number of places range from 20-177, with the majority being in the 20 and 30s and you could imagine the number of applicants applying each year (i.e >200).

Medicine is demanding. And after reading numerous blogs of people’s medical experiences, and hearing from medical students – you don’t necessarily need to be crazy intelligent or a ‘genius’ but capable of reading VOLUMES of notes/lectures and keeping on top of things (correct me if I’m wrong) and that requires discipline.

Plus, taking a year out isn’t really a big deal. US citizens’ first degree is *4 years – UK is 3/4 years. Theoretically, I would be the same age entering med school as an American if I took a year out.

Plan A: Get into Medicine

Plan B: Gap year with research

It’s never a bad thing to look ahead and plan for the alternatives. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

All I know is, I want God’s perfect will/plan to be executed in life. If I am  to enter med school straight off, or take a gap year then let it be so. He will take care of our needs If we put His kingdom first above all things. I know he will direct my path, because He is NOT a God of confusion. He is a faithful God. All I know is my case is in God’s hands – regardless the funding or competitive obstacles placed before me.

1 Thessalonians5:24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Sources: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/studentservices/support/financialsupport/studentfunding/fundingforgemstudents.aspx

http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/fees-and-funding/oxford-support/funding-for-medical-students

Check out this site for more detail:

https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/i-am/considering-or-university/financial-support-university/financial-support-medical-and-dental

  • Make sure to do your research before APPLYING!

Stay blessed,

-D x

1 Thessalonians5:24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

 

Guys I hosted the ‘Doctor’s Panel Talk’

I spoke, I introduced Surgeons that are experts in their fields,  and I ran the talk/event. It was crazy, I’ve  never felt so nervous in my life. God opened a door for me, an opportunity for me and I took it. It wasn’t  smooth sailing, I stumbled on my words with some occasionally stuttering and I couldn’t even pronounce ‘ALLERGIC’. After numerous attempts I finally got it and the audience laughed.  I cracked a smile, maybe they were just trying to ease the tension. I got into the flow of things as I read the credentials of some the surgeons, each of them helplessly smiling to encourage me the more. Two of them weren’t able to attend, due to unforeseeable circumstances , and that was perfectly fine as we  overran with the 5 surgeons we had.

I can see I am pushing/putting myself out there. If you would have asked me to host anything close to an event such as the talk a year ago, I would kindly decline because I saw myself as the shy and quite type. But in the years to come, I want to be more confident in myself and my abilities. So in order to do so, I have to take on opportunities that come my way and not let fear and self doubt take it’s toll.

After introducing the surgeons with my partner, each surgeon took to the stage and spoke about their subspecialty. It had to be the best talk I’d ever attended in years. Each speaker so interesting and passionate about their speciality, granting as invaluable knowledge we’ll need and use as I was sure to have seen students jotting down notes. I think I was far too excited to listen at times, but when I did catch up with their talks, I was in awe. Do I want to be a surgeon? Well they sold it to me. The talk surely inspired and motivated students. One of the speakers actually completed a bachelors, masters, and PHD before embarking on Medicine knowing the medical career was all he could picture himself having. He is now a consultant Neurosurgeon. Graduate students studying a mere  bachelors, such as I,  would have definitely been encouraged as the time and journey it takes to get there accounts for nothing once you’ve achieved it. Have faith, because all things are truly possible for those who believe. As a Christian, the ‘faith’ mentality has truly helped me and It’s something I am still working on.

The subspecialties spoken about included: Ophthalmology, General Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Neurosurgery, and Gynaecology and Oncology.

Here are a few pictures from the evening:

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Christmas break is going well. First week was totally relaxation time. Did I deserve it? I don’t think so. I’ve got a lot of lectures from Semester A to catch up on, or It’ll haunt me in Semester B. So now I’ve got approximately 2 weeks to finish ALL LECTURES NOTES on about 4 modules. Not too bad.

I apologise for not going into much detail of the event, this post is sort of a small update.

Hope you’re all enjoying your Christmas break!

Happy Holidays

-D x

John 5:38 ‘But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.’

Doctor’s Talk

Hey guys! It’s been a minute.

This week by far has been the most intense since returning. The week started with two tests, a physiology MCQ followed by a human molecular biology test (more IT based test on genomic data and how to use the genome browser overall. Here’s the site we used: https://genome.ucsc.edu/). With a slight interlude,  I had to prep for a PBL session by researching objectives that correlated with the patient case study provided. We’ll then have to write a 2,000 word essay on the study. The case study is of a patient X. X has a ‘supposed ovarian cancer’ as blood tests showed high levels of CA-125 levels (protein/tumour maker produced particularly by ovarian cancerous cells). As CA-125 is produced and released into the blood, a CA-125 test can be administered. High levels of CA-125 is usually an indication of the cancer, however the test is non-specific as other conditions of the genital system: fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and pregnancy can result in an increase in CA-125 levels in the blood. Other tests that can be carried out to solidify the diagnosis include; an MRI scan, CT scan, Ultrasound, chest X-ray, laparoscopy, and an abdominal fluid aspiration – where a very thin needle is inserted into the abdomen and a fluid sample is taken. The fluid sample obtained is then tested for the presence of cancerous cells.

Ovarian adenocarcinoma: cancer that arises at the ovary or ovaries causing the production of cancerous cells able to spread and invade other organs.

Treatment proposed for patient X included;  Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, Total abdominal hysterectomy, and Omentectomy.

Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – removal of ovary and fallopian tube. This can be unilateral (one ovary and tube) or bilateral (both ovaries and both tubes).

Total abdominal hysterectomy – removal of the uterus (womb) via an incision made in the lower abdomen. A partial hysterectomy can also be performed. This is where only the uterus is removed, but the cervix is kept intact. Total abdominal hysterectomy removes both uterus and cervix.

Omentectomy – removal of part of the omentum or all of the omentum. The omentum is the fold of peritoneum that connects the stomach to all other abdominal organs. It is a large fatty ‘sheet’ that overlies the abdominal organs, and functions to nourish the organs.

 

A mass from Patient’s X ovary is taken and sent to histopathology’s. The pathology report revealed the mass to be a malignant tumour and the above surgeries mentioned were to be carried out. After the surgery the patient is referred to the oncology department and placed under chemotherapy treatment.

The objectives given required us to explain treatments associated with ovarian cancer, prognosis of the patient,  the genetic basis of cancer and so forth. I find this ‘Case Approach’ module to be simply intriguing. In fact, It’s sort of a step up to the conventional analyse results and tell me why your results are so in terms of the biological aspects but to look forward to how cases may be approached in medical school. Our particular course does have in mind that many of the undergraduates aspire to go on to medical school, thus, the modules are tailored just for that – to build a foundation. During the PBL session we discussed points we should address in the essay and answered the objectives briefly. At the end of the tutorial, I had to rush of to volunteer – can’t go into much details here but I ended up returning home around 7pm and just crashed – watched a bit of The Apprentice of course. Next day, I had to complete a lab report in basically a night because of all the prior assignments set for completion at the beginning of the week. Stress. I managed to finish the report and handed it in just in time before the deadline. God is faithful. It’s been a busy week – and It’s not ended yet, It’s Friday and I’ve got a 3 hour lab session + 4 hours of lectures. All in all, I’ve already conquered this week.

I remember telling you of my position in the Biomedic’s Society – Academic Officer. So I’m required to plan and execute academic events that support the ethos of the society. An idea of mine was to have a panel of doctors to inform us about what their sub-speciality entails- what a day in the hospital really looks like  and  subject areas most grad-entry medicine students would love to know about: their career path, their current views on the NHS , interview and application tips, why medicine? etc. By God’s grace, I’ve managed to get consultants in the following fields: Neurosurgery, Cardiothoracic surgery, General surgery, Ophthalmology, Paediatric Gastroenterology, Gynaecology and Oncology, and Plastic surgery. Neat right? I’m seriously dead excited to meet these consultants and bottom line gain invaluable knowledge about their subspecialties.

Here’s what our flyer looks like:

 

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I have removed the names of the doctors for confidentiality reasons

We are hoping for a great turn out. Thus far, our promotion hasn’t really been on point but I’m hoping to kick start it  and just go ham on it. It’s because most of the society committee members being 2nd and 3rd years, they’ve had a busy week with tests and in course assessments, so it couldn’t really be helped. We’ve got a few weeks to make a change. At the moment, I’m trying to push for the event to be free just so more people would be encouraged to come. Hopefully I’ll be able to pitch a good case at the meeting on Monday.

My Cell Biology & Developmental Genetics module lectures take place on Fridays. We had an hour lecture in the morning, followed by an afternoon lecture. Thankfully, we’ve moved on from the developmental aspects of the module into lectures that focuses in on the cell biology aspects. Interestingly, the lecturer said that although the lecture isn’t based on cancer she’ll linking biology of cells to cancer- how things go wrong in the cells that result in cancer development. This is what I found to be most intriguing. The first lecture addressed the definition of a growth factor, modes of communication, and signalling pathways within the cell and many other subtopics.

 

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Lovely

It’s a new week. I have an essay to plan and write, I have 2 lab reports to finish, society work, and a full day of volunteering.

The joy of the Lord is my strength! I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me.

How has your week been?

Stay blessed

-D x

Psalm 28:7 ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.’

Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.’

Nehemiah 8:10 ‘Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”