An Interview with @the.mini.medic, a first year medical student at Imperial College London
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself!
I’m from North London and studied at a state school, where I did the typical route of A levels. I’m a first-year medical student at Imperial College London and at the moment I’m mainly focused on my University work. I really like baking, hanging out with friends and family and playing board games and watching movies with them. I also spend A LOT of time sleeping! I'll sleep 12+ hours and still complain about being tired.
Q: What made you decide to study medicine? Why do you want to be a doctor?
Medicine felt like it had all the components. I was good at science and enjoyed it and medicine would also involve a lot of patient contact and communication with others. I’m pretty sociable and extroverted so I thought medicine would fit very well.
Medicine is also a challenging degree. Even the application process, with the BMAT and UKCAT, is challenging, which will make me push myself. I like to do things that make me go above and beyond and that will stimulate me. I don't feel I'd get the same satisfaction from another degree.
Being a doctor is also a stable job, where you do not have to worry about getting a job after graduating. All these different aspects coming together, made Medicine the degree for me.
Q: Why did you choose Imperial’s medicine course over other courses?
I wanted to stay in London at home, so I put down all London universities when applying. Eventually, choosing Imperial was a difficult choice to make and I firmed my choices really late. I liked the area of the college but most importantly the course structure is so well rounded. I love how the course is clinically integrated from so early on. They also give out a bursary which I was eligible for, which was a bonus as well. (they give these out every year). I also looked at ranking tables and Imperial was very high on the list. Since it was in London, I knew I did not have to worry too much about diversity. It was really a combination of factors and I knew Imperial would make me work hard. (If you know me, I’m quite lazy but I knew imperial would keep me in check)
More about the Course at Imperial…
I’ve only been here for one month, but I’ve already had placements, been in the dissection room where I’ve got to examine a cadaver and taken blood from colleagues in a lab. I’ve also spoken to so many patients and have learnt how to take histories and communicate with them. We’ve also had group sessions with so many team-based learning opportunities. It’s such a diverse course and you do and cover so much. It’s never boring and very varied.
K: Could you tell me more about the Placements you’ve had?
I had a GP placement in Watford, greater London, where I spoke to a patient over the phone. The conversation was fully in my control and I spoke to the patient for half an hour straight , mainly building rapport by asking them how they were, about their hobbies and how Covid-19 has affected them. The person I was speaking to had just found out they had cancer before Covid and we spoke about how hard it was on them. I also had a sit in with a doctor who was doing phone calls, which were all online. (GP consults online) The doctor saw a couple of patients, and I observed the way she was speaking to them, and how she linked what they were saying (their symptoms) to things she thought they might be and I was taken aback by her knowledge . I was sitting there thinking ‘ yhh I wanna get on her level’.
After this, I had a zoom call with another doctor from that GP and we spoke about the patient's condition in more detail and came to a conclusion on how the diagnosis was made.
Q: What have you been enjoying the most about Imperial so far?
The part of the course I’m enjoying the most is called the clinical scientific integration, which is split into 3 parts. Part 1 is the pre session segment, where we view a video of the patient, for instance one with sickle cell anaemia, and do some role play. The second part is the proper session, which is the scientific bit, so in this case we analysed her haemoglobin levels and morphology of her erythrocytes. The third part is the test, which is a summative assessment and it is split into different sections. The first part is where you answer questions individually, after which you join up with teams and hear other’s ideas and get to know their knowledge.It's nice to see others' approach to the questions and we also do some harder questions with the team. In addition to this, we thought about the psychological aspects and how most diseases can be mentally draining. We then discussed how work, finances and social life can be affected by illness, putting the biopsychosocial model in practice.
Q: Were there things that you did not expect about Imperial?
Don’t get me wrong, Imperial is very diverse with people from all over the world, but one thing that sort of surprised me was that the type of diversity of students is very different from what I expected. I could be wrong as I've only seen a small proportion of students (only medics), but from what I've seen so far, the percentage of black students is very poor and in general there aren't that many people from ethnic minority backgrounds who are from deprived areas in London like myself. This was quite shocking for me, especially for someone who’s from a very culturally diverse area in North London.This is something that definitely needs to change especially with Imperial being a London uni.
Q: What are you most excited about for your future at Imperial?
Definitely, meeting new and more patients, speaking to them and building a relationship with them. I would love for them to want to speak, talk and confide in me, tell me their symptoms and whatever they’re going through. It would be amazing to speak to them and be able to put the pieces together and have the ability to have an idea of what’s wrong with them.
Q: How has Covid-19 affected your medical school journey so far?
The main difference is that you do not go to uni in person as much and lectures have been transferred to guided online learning. This is basically lecturing from a slide, with lecturers talking through it, a few follow up texts and a little mini quiz after each section. That’s been kind of hard, because you are not going in person but you still physically have to get yourself up in the morning, keep yourself in check and make sure you are not behind. However, I was still able to speak to loads of people, and in the first two introduction weeks I could go to uni almost every day. Everyone there was really confident,friendly and willing to have a conversation.
It’s definitely different to how it would have originally been because we are all wearing masks and sitting very far away from each other. We also cannot go out together for meals like lunch after lectures because of lockdown restrictions. I think Imperial is really doing their best to make the best out of this situation and is still taking us in for labs, to the dissection room, covering all the content and giving us the opportunity to be on placements.
Before starting at Imperial, I had originally wanted to join so many clubs to meet people from the same background and speak to more people. However, it’s not really the same now because of Covid, with everything being online. I didn’t really want a zoom call to be my first introduction to people.
Q: What clubs would you have joined if there were no Covid-19 restrictions?
I would have joined many cultural clubs as well as academic societies. For example, there’s a Muslim medics society, which everyone goes to for help with catching up with tutorials as they summarise the content really well. For Sports, I would probably have done something chill like badminton, but all the sports are stopped so I can’t do that. Even if you are not in a society, at Imperial there's so many activities you can get involved in e.g charity week that has just come to an end.
Q: Have you thought about what field you want to specialise in in the future?
I’m planning on going in open minded to see everything. I need routine and a set timetable, so I’ve been thinking that a GP has a nice work life balance, a nice
lifestyle, a job which can cover most aspects of medicine, while having a 9-5 stable job, where you can go home to your family and make food, which is something I value. However, different people value very different things.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring medical school students?
This advice is probably quite different from others but honestly just relax and don’t stress too much about it, because when you don’t stress you perform better. Go into the UKCAT and BMAT and just chill. I think I performed better because I tried my best to be relaxed. Enjoy your time, while keeping on top of your work. Your BMAT and UKCAT scores don’t have to be crazy high, so don’t stress yourself about this as Universities will still offer you an interview as long as you get around the average grades. Once you are at the interview, let your personality shine through because I think at that stage they mainly just look at how you are as an individual.
K: Thank you so much for answering all my questions! Do check out her Instagram page @the.mini.medic