Applied in: Winter 2013

University Offers: Oxford, Imperial College, UCL, Bristol

My interest in health and disease first blossomed in year 9, when I studied the impact of Bazalgette's sewage system on the cholera epidemics ravaging London in the 1800's. The ever-changing landscape of scientific knowledge and medical practice and the rich variety of specialities available make medicine appealing to me.

By volunteering for Crisis at Christmas, Westminster PHAB (Physically Disabled, Able Bodied) and visiting a local elderly care home for a year, I've been privileged to work with some of the most vulnerable members of society. Learning about difficulties that the homeless face prompted me to read Nigel Hewett's evaluation of the London Pathway, in which he concludes that an effective care pathway can dramatically reduce readmissions of homeless people, saving money and increasing quality of life. At the care home, I visited Alan and enjoyed learning about his book designing career and holidays in Italy. It was a shock therefore arriving one day to find his bed stripped and empty, and I hope that I had provided him with some comfort during his last months.

I have been able to undertake work experience at an inner city GP surgery, the paediatric unit in my local hospital and the academic labs at UCL, shadowing doctors, nurses and receptionists. At the surgery I experienced how doctors can be involved in social as well as medical aspects of care when a doctor was concerned for the well-being of a child, whose mother was both young and sick, and how GP and nurse home visits aid those who are housebound or chronically ill. I was also given the opportunity to conduct a small clinical audit reviewing the attendance of patients at A&E in and out of GP hours and their admission rates.

As a result, the surgery has submitted a business case for increased staffing at the surgery during the week and weekend. In the paediatric unit, when a surgeon made a decision on behalf of a young patient to overcome a complication in a procedure, it struck me how doctors can act as advocates for children, and at UCLH I discovered how doctors can integrate research into their clinical work. The lively debate at a journal club on the placebo effect prompted me to read Daniel Moerman's book on the subject, which shows scientifically the effect of kindness in clinical medicine. Indeed, the homeless guests at Crisis said they valued the company and warmth of volunteers just as much as the hot food.

I have taught Latin to year 6 pupils as I am stimulated by the blend of literature, language and history that Latin offers and believe that the analytical skills required to translate unseen texts and scrutinise literature mirror those required to make diagnoses from a simple history and appraisal of scientific papers. Indeed, in 'Bad Science' Ben Goldacre effectively argues the need for appraisal and reliable research in medicine. I have also practised these skills by presenting a scientific paper on my investigation into the antibacterial properties of natural foods and by addressing my school's Biology Society on mitochondrial diseases and 'three-parent babies'. While preparing for this, I considered the ethical issues of genetically modifying embryos. Will this treatment set a precedent that will make genetic modification ethically acceptable in the future?

Other than my academic work, I am engaged in the musical life at school, performing Verdi and Britten in the choir, touring with the symphony orchestra and playing in smaller ensembles. Coxing several rowing crews has tested my decision making under pressure and I'm looking forward to navigating at night in a team of five for 42 miles across the Yorkshire Moors this October.

I believe that, after observing a consultant reviewing a child with a disease that she'd never met before and using her scientific knowledge practically, a strong grounding in science followed by the attainment of clinical skills will help me to become the well-reasoned and well-rounded doctor I hope to be.

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