“The sense of job satisfaction is huge - you can really make a difference to someone's life.”
Training to be a doctor usually takes between five and six years, but I am in first year of a faster four year 'accelerated' course designed for people who already have a degree. There are about seventy students in our year; a great mix of interesting people from all sorts of backgrounds with ages ranging from early twenties to late thirties. We are taught with quite a new tutorial-based system that was pioneered in Australia called PBL ('Problem Based Learning'). Instead of the more traditional, topic based, structured, teaching - with, say, 300 people in a lecture hal l- we are divided into tutorial groups of about 7 people, and the emphasis is on quite a lot of self study. The course proceeds in modules: we started last September with the immune system, and have moved through reproduction and babies, heart and lungs, stomach and liver, and this month we are looking at muscles and bones.
Each week we look at a different medical topic through the example of one particular problem. On the Monday we have a tutorial to introduce the case (this week: a dislocated shoulder), we discuss the issues and then we are sent away to research all the medical background. Through the week we have lectures, demonstrations, maybe a visit to a GP who has a patient with an associated problem, all illustrating or enlarging upon the week's topic. At the end of the week we have a second tutorial to clarify and consolidate our findings. All this is mixed in with all the other basic lectures and seminars we need: from anatomy, discussions on ethics, or patient communication, to learning clinical skills like taking blood or giving an injection.
It's an intense course, requiring a lot of stamina and determination. Self discipline is probably the most important thing - a lot of the time you are working on your own - but I really enjoy what I'm doing and I think it's great. I know I definitely made the right decision in choosing medicine.