Seeing patients suffering from dengue fever whilst on a placement in Bangladesh has made me wonder how reactions occurring at a molecular platform can cause havoc to our bodies. As many illnesses including dengue doesn’t have a current treatment it illustrates the limitless opportunities in medical science. A discipline which holds the solutions to our medical issues, which can be obtained through exploring incredibly complex mechanisms is a venture I thrive to be in. Completing my EPQ on the effects of aspirin on lynch syndrome and bowel cancer has further confirmed my passion for medical sciences. In particular, I found the cyclooxygenase-2 biochemical pathway and the inhibitory effects of aspirin very interesting, specifically in the context of tumour biology.
These included the modification of angiogenesis through suppression of thromboxane and grasping how a reduction of inflammatory tissue can effect the tumour. Evaluating aspirin as a potential cure made me realise the complexities involved in medical research and the various aspects that need to be considered before therapies can be translated into clinical practice. From the EPQ I have gained a flavour into university-level studies and have developed independent learning skills as well as organisation. My interest and commitment to study medical sciences was reinforced by a placement in Neurology, which provided a valuable perspective on the challenges facing doctors. I witnessed the physical and emotional stress under which they operate but could also see the rewards of being able to have a positive impact on the life and wellbeing of patients and families. I also learned about the importance of patient interaction. I saw a patient who had difficulty with speaking due to neurofibromatosis type 2; I found it hard to follow him, yet the consultant was clearly able to understand him.
From this I saw the importance of empathy and the need to be able to communicate clearly with patients and colleagues alike. To improve my own communication, I decided to volunteer at the CIRB unit in my school; here I mentored a year 8 student who has Asperger’s syndrome. Mentoring year 7 students and volunteering at a residential home have improved my interpersonal skills.
By working with people of various ages and needs, I believe I have learned to listen to and gauge the needs of different people so that I can most effectively work with them. I believe this is an essential skill in all branches of medicine, as working with colleagues and communicating effectively with patients is essential for their overall wellbeing and treatment Working as a nursing assistant at a Haematology ward has allowed me to gain a greater understanding into the runnings of a ward. Being part of a multidisciplinary team I was able to appreciate the strong communication between the various staff and how they worked in unison to help patients. Caring for patients with myeloma I was curious to grasp how the chemotherapy drug melphalan functions. I learned from a variety of articles that melphalan operates by attaching an alkyl group to a guanine base, thereby interrupting DNA and RNA replication which introduces cytotoxicity against the cancerous plasma cells. To me, this demonstrated the astonishing power of medical science, the connection between our understanding of the human body and therapeutic advance in order to sustain and elongate life is breathtaking.
Studying medical sciences at university will help me fulfil an ambition to be a part of a community committed to medical advances and will also provide a thorough understanding of the fundamental concepts which I will able to apply as I intend to study graduate medicine.