One of the most important elements of submitting a succesful personal statement to medical school is ensuring that you have undergone a period of relevant work experience. To highlight the importance of this Medicas has launched an essay competition aimed at encouraging candidates to not only go out and obtain some relevant work experience but also reflect on that experience and consider how it has given them a better understanding of the profession of medicine. The top two entries will receive Amazon gift vouchers, with first place reciving £30 and second place receiving £15, and will be both published on the Medicas Website.

Any prospective medical school candidate can submit their entry providing that their work has not been previously published elsewhere or is awaiting publication. Essays should be of no more than 500 words in response to the title below and must be submitted electronically via with ‘Work Experience Competition’ in the subject title.


‘How has my work experience placement provided me with a much better understanding of the role of a Doctor?’


The deadline for this year’s competition is Friday 23rd December 2016.

We look forward to receiving your entries Good luck!

After much deliberation over the past few weeks we have decided to split our vouchers to four joint winners as we just couldn’t decide between them! Our winners are:

Carina Synn Cuen Pan
George Nishimura
Josephine Johnson
Akhil Budharaju

You can view the winning entries below. On behalf of the Medicas Team thank you to all who entered and watch this space for our Summer Competition!


Winning Entries

Carina Synn Cuen Pan

Carina Synn Cuen Pan | Concord College

Carina is a lower sixth form student studying A-Levels in Concord College. Having experienced a fatal medical incident, she had to receive treatment overseas due to the lack of specialists in Carina’s hometown. However, this was the ignition point that fueled her enthusiasm to pursue medicine as she deems everyone deserves adequate healthcare.

My first medical related work experience was back in my hometown where the Duchess of Kent Hospital was the only hospital established and is run by the government. It was there when I quenched my desperation for insight, at least before I spend a relatively more substantial amount of my parents’ money compared to my other peers who do not view the medical field as part of their future career.

Unfortunately, I could only visit the emergency department due to time restraint. Holding to that decision however, I could have a broader spectrum of patients to study. Looking back, I have received discouraging comments amongst the many encouraging ones. When I reflected on what the doctors had to share, it has occurred to me that it all boils down to hard work. I understood that pursuing medicine would be long training, i.e. 5-6 years for a degree and 7-8 years to be a consultant. If one cannot commit, one should not undertake it. The long hours I am going to sacrifice are going to be the antisocial hours, where the balancing of work life as a doctor is never normal as there are patients getting unwell all the time. In terms of family life, it isn’t true that doctors are not able have one, it just isn’t always ideal in most cases, but it wasn’t as bad as before as well. Ladies can now have kids, but it is still more difficult than other vocation.

On the bright side, if medicine is to your interest, it can be fascinating. It will not always be casualties. Being a doctor means exciting challenges and not necessarily dull intricacies. As a doctor, you can proudly say that you earned the respect in whatever you do. Economically speaking, this is a recession-proof job unless the recession has messed up badly. However, being a doctor is never about the money. Oncalls and nightshifts are not something a doctor gets paid extra for. Another piece of information the doctors had conveyed to me is that not every doctor was an A*** student, there is so much more practical and communicating elements to it. A doctor has to get to know the patients and have time for them. Looking at the patients, empatising, and listening are as important as treating them, as patients are people. Getting used to being average is something that I must accept during my medical student years and it is important that I know I do not have to be the brightest, rather, having passion and drive are the ones that will keep me going (but examinations are obviously important).

At the end of my work experience, I have concluded that being a doctor looks cool on TV and in real life but reality is not a dream life on TV. However, ultimately you get to save lives and make patients admitted into the hospital happier when they leave. It is the humanitarian reward that comes with the price of being a doctor.


George Nishimura | Bancroft’s School

My name is George Nishimura and I study at Bancroft’s School. Biology has always been a fascination of mine, and medicine seemed the perfect path to start exploring. I hugely enjoyed my work experience and hope to learn a lot more in the future.

Thinking back to my work experience now, I realise that what I had been awaiting was an academic experience. Each day, I would turn up to the hospital with a notepad and pen and my phone screen set to Google, ready to search some obscure term. Yet now, when I reminisce of the two weeks I spent there, I find myself not remembering the various symptoms and medicines that I had jotted down keenly, but the small things.

Whilst attached to the urology department, I heard and saw my fair share of odd things. I had blissfully ignored swelling scrotums and blocked ureters my whole life, and now suddenly I was in a department full of them. One such case I remember was about a man who had an abnormally red scrotum; it was doing him no harm, but he persisted to be seen and diagnosed. He had made his way through GPs and specialists until he was referred to the hospital, where he proudly showed off his condition; the doctor, despite all his training, was unable to find a suitable cause or cure, and thus I was rather curious to see his solution. In the end, he scribbled some words down on some paper and handed it back to the man.
“What’s this?” the man had asked.
“It’s to hand to reception.” replied the doctor.
“No, I mean this diagnosis: ‘Angry Red Scrotum Syndrome’. Did you make that up?”
“Yes, but it’s because I have never seen a case like this before.”
The man proceeded to smile, and thanked the doctor with a handshake before striding proudly out of the room. I like to think that the man remains proud of his very own medical conundrum to this day.

During an endoscopy, I remember a certain patient started crying. The woman had just recovered from a particularly unpleasant illness, and was incredibly anxious about having to go to the hospital again. What do you do in this case? Do you tell the patient that even in extreme cases, only 1 in 25 patients will die from this procedure? Do you notify her that this is a nonsurgical procedure, and that to be frank, has near to no risk at the current time? The doctor simply put the screen to one side, gave the tube to the nurse, and held the patient’s hand for a few minutes.

Patients are not puzzles; they are people. Although this is perhaps the most obvious thing to learn, the mental wellbeing of a patient is just as important as their physical wellbeing; it is a doctor’s job to ease the process of healing, and not to push a patient through it as quickly as possible. The role of a doctor is to heal whilst holding hands, or to reassure a patient of their care, rather than just to diagnose and then proceed.


Josephine Johnson | Guildford High School

I am a Lower Sixth form student, currently studying at Guildford High School. In recent years I have made the decision to pursue a career in medicine, and have been participating in various work experience placements in my free time to get a feel for the field. I have found these truly fascinating, and rather eye-opening with regards to the remarkable nature of a doctor in society – I am now more driven and excited than ever to apply for medical school in the coming Michaelmas term!

I had a 3 day placement (Tuesday 30th August – Friday 2nd August) at Linton Surgery in Cambridge during which I shadowed Dr. Arbide, and, quite frankly was fascinated by the behind-the-scenes side of General Practice – a refreshing change, having only ever experienced the other side as a patient.

During my placement, I observed a great deal with eager interest – in all honesty, before it, my perception of General Practice was quite ambivalent. It was only after the first morning that I realised the sheer cope that is required in being a GP. What I had observed was fast-paced, dynamic medicine, treating a multitude of people with a variety of issues ranging from physical through to mental and emotional. I saw instant results in minor operations, and people’s overwhelming gratitude when various lumps and bumps they had were removed. But what made the most significant impression on me was the gratitude the patients demonstrated, and the respect and patience they displayed. I was also impressed by the strong understanding and mutual trust between doctors, and between doctor and patient (something I had not witnessed in a prior hospital placement).

My attachment to Linton Surgery was an incredible experience, allowing me to observe how patients are dealt with, to watch minor surgery (a field that is of particular interest to me), and to see real people being treated for real problems first hand, by a network of doctors working closely together. I have gained an insight into General Practice which has subsequently changed my opinion of it, and has now made me consider exploring a potential career in it – something I previously would not have done.

The placement experience was invaluably authentic – yes, I saw the smiles and gratitude of patients with their green prescription slips waltzing out the door, but I also saw the less glamorous side of General Practice: the breaking of the bad news of basal cell carcinoma to a patient, running hours late on clinics, and visiting an undertaker to examine and confirm the identity of a deceased.

My attachment to Linton Surgery has shown me that ‘being a Doctor’ is not just treating patients, or filing paperwork. It is being in a position of authority and trust, advising and treating ailments of a variety of natures, and having an integral role on the frontline of professionals supporting and reassuring a community.


Akhil Budharaju

In the past, many of the ethical principles seen in medicine reflected a paternalistic approach to healthcare and its delivery. There was little public knowledge of medicine and medical science, and a patient’s respect for doctors was based on the fact that he was placing his life in the doctor’s hands. Over the years the role of doctors and their approach to treatment has changed dramatically and can be seen in today’s medical practices around the world.

Paternalism is described as a dominant attitude of one over another. It was widely practiced years ago because clinicians were usually expected to make the best decision for the patient. This means that a doctor acts in the best interest of the patient’s health and not necessarily the best interest of the patient, similar to a father figure who dictates the treatment for the patient. Even though this approach is no longer used in the U.K, it is still used in countries such as India where I shadowed a Doctor for a week’s work experience there and I got a glimpse of the paternalistic approach to treatment with most of the treatment being dictated by the doctor or surgeon without giving the opportunity for the patient to voice his or her opinion about the choice of treatment they want.

However in the U.K, we take a patient-centred approach to our treatment. This style of treatment is one that acts in the best interest of the patient themselves and their final decision of the treatment that they choose is the one that is carried forward by the Doctor or Surgeon or Physician. The U.K has changed its medical practice from a paternalistic to a patient-centred approach which has had many benefits to healthcare to the U.K.

The main role of a doctor can be seen as solely treating and diagnosing the patients that they treat but there are many vital roles that a Doctor plays that are crucial for the effective treatment of their patients. One of them being their patient care which expends from just the wards. At my work experience at Great Ormand Street Hospital in the Neurosurgery Ward, the group of doctors and surgeons would have meetings in the seminar rooms where they discuss issues about patients that they are dealing with and take any ideas from other doctors or surgeons about what treatment they should give. Furthermore Doctors help train them medical students or the registrar and help sculpt the Doctors of the Future to fulfil their shoes and take on their role after them and also pass on their expertise through their years of expertise.

Doctors play a very important role in the functioning of the NHS and other health services provided in the U.K and through my work experience I was able to get a much greater understanding to the crucial role that a doctor plays not only in the wards and offices and outside as well. Doctors hold a very important and respected title and their services lead to the betterment of society.