Reflections on the Medicine Conference

24 March 2021

Written by Shreya (Year 12)

Contributed to by Alina, Ammarah, Rida, Aisling and Raahi (all Year 12)

The medical conference on March 16th 2021, organised by our Head of Careers, Dr Strobel, was certainly an event for which we were all grateful. From learning more about evidence-based learning and how clinical trials are conducted, to the adventurous lives of different general practitioners, consultants and surgeons – it was a jam-packed day to say the least! 

We began with a short introduction from Mrs Gardiner Legge, Dr Strobel and the multiple Year 12s involved in putting the day together. Then, we were led through the excellent fast paced journey of applying to medicine by Sheffield University, which was particularly helpful in providing a form of guidance for what seems like a terrifying experience! They addressed the different styles of medical courses that are offered by Universities, how we can stand out as applicants, and the general steps to getting into medical school. 

We were then joined by a team from Cochrane. Alina, a Year 12 aspiring medic, says “Despite the fantastic range of top tips from both alumnae and parents, as well as overviews on medical specialties, I have to say the ‘Evidence Based Medicine’ panel was a new topic within the medical field and so fascinating to listen to! The panel was presented by Ms Selena Ryan-Vig and Ms Lynda Ware of Cochrane, a charity which raises awareness of the importance of evidence-based medicine (EBM) across the world. EBM is made up of three components: patient values, clinical expertise and the best research evidence available. Too often, one of these components is missed before medical advice or drugs are issued to the public, which can lead to devastating consequences. One such incidence was the Thalidomide Tragedy of the late 1950s, where the impact of the ‘Thalidomide’ drug for preventing nausea in pregnant women was life-changing for their babies, who were revealed after birth to have major developmental problems and birth defects. This received global attention and highlighted the importance of stringent clinical trial processes, which Ms Ware detailed the stages of. As an aspiring medic myself, this panel made me realise how easily duped the public can be by fake news on medical information in the media, as Ms Selena Ryan-Vig illustrated with several articles on the apparently carcinogenic properties of ‘all processed meat’, which to my relief were soon disproved! I learnt the questions we should ask ourselves before blindly believing such information, as well as how evidence can be tested for its reliability to prove or disprove theories. Overall, it’s been interesting to see a zoomed-out perspective of medicine, focusing on public health rather than direct patient contact in a clinical setting. This has also been a valuable insight into a major topic studied in medicine during university, so I’m looking forward to the exciting range of opportunities a career in medicine can provide.”

Soon after this exciting experience, our attendees split into their desired panel sessions, choosing between ‘Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery’ and ‘Medicine and GPs’. I attended the ‘Medicine and GPs’ panel, which was nothing like I expected it to be. Our wonderful speakers, Dr Joanna Cherry, Dr Noémi Roy, Dr Esmie Warne and Dr Charlotte Patterson, gave us an insight into their lives and pathways to becoming a general practitioner – all of which were completely different! I found that this was very effective for us, as aspiring medics, as it goes to show the completely varied routes that succeed a medical degree. Nevertheless, a particularly important point mentioned by several of the doctors on the panel was the effect that a healthcare job can have on one’s mental health, which made me grateful for everything that practitioners do, especially in the midst of a global pandemic! 

Ammarah, a Year 12 student chairing the ‘Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery’ panel mentioned that this “…was extremely interesting, with the vast range of panelists providing an incredible insight into several different areas of the dental profession, as well as guidance for applying to study dentistry at university, from the admissions tests to what to include in your personal statement. It was very inspiring to hear about how the pathways taken by each dentist varied, and the vast array of reasons that motivated each of them to enter a career in dentistry. Dr Prabhu provided a great piece of advice, which was to enter the profession not because of the quality of life and benefits, but because you have a genuine passion for helping people and alleviating their pain and assured us that as soon as you do this you will enjoy the job much more. Dr Beardsley also gave some great insight into what the business aspect of dentistry is like and the struggles and advantages of owning a dental practice. It was hugely inspiring to hear how Dr Amit Mohindra volunteered with Dental Mavericks providing dental aid to those less fortunate in other countries who lack access to dental care. Dr Tina Mohindra kindly provided some useful tips on standing out in your dental school interviews, which we will no doubt be sure to utilise! We would like to say a huge thank you to all our dentistry panelists, from the aspiring dentists at Oxford High.”

Shortly after lunch, we were joined by a team of surgeons with an anaesthetist. Rida, a Year 12 student chairing the ‘Surgery and Anaesthesia panel’ says, “This panel provided an amazing opportunity to get a window into the lives of real surgeons and it really helped me get a realistic grasp on their day-to-day routines. It was so interesting to hear from Miss Petrie about the real work of plastic surgeons and I think the whole talk helped everyone to banish their stigma around plastic surgery. I also really enjoyed the outlook of Mr Gillies and his advice on how to prepare for the field of surgery. It was great to hear ways you could improve manual dexterity but also how one can overcome various hurdles in order to enter that field. Along with the Q&A section came the fantastic advice that each doctor had to offer. It was so comforting to hear opinions of doctors on stress management, mistakes, and work life balance. The panel was particularly beneficial in calming nerves whilst igniting excitement for the future!” 

Although the day provided masses of information and inspiration for aspiring medics, we were sure to incorporate an ‘Alternatives to Medicine’ panel for those wanting to work in healthcare but not as doctors. Aisling, a Year 12 student chairing this panel, says “I was involved with helping set up and run the event but do not think I am interested in medicine in the future. However, despite this, attending the ‘Alternatives to Medicine’ panel was really interesting. I was educated on all the different options open to people pursuing careers in healthcare that do not want to follow a traditional pathway. We heard from a variety of different speakers including paramedics, nurses and pharmacists. The wide variety and diversity in careers were so eye-opening and really informative!” 

Last but not least, we finished the day with a panel on ‘The Lives of Medical Students and Young Doctors’, chaired by Professor Andrew Carr. This was particularly useful for all of us in Year 12 to visualise what our lives will look like in a few years’ time, whilst simultaneously absorbing how difficult it must have been for these students during the pandemic! Raahi, a Year 12 student helping to chair this panel, says “It was a great privilege to hear all our speakers on ‘The Lives of Medical Students and Young Doctor’s’ panel. We were provided with some great insights into life at medical school, including how to achieve a good work life balance while simultaneously dealing with the pressures of the medical degree. Hearing about their day-to-day lives and how they were still able to keep up with their hobbies and extracurricular interests whilst at university, was nice to hear as an aspiring medic. I was inspired by some of the leadership roles that had been employed; like starting a free educational website for aspiring healthcare workers. Despite the virtual setup, it was an incredible event and I learned a great deal!”

A massive thank you to Dr Strobel for organising this day for us and to Professor Carr for helping us before, during and after the conference!

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