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I felt supported in my decision
to pursue Medicine
When did you study at RNC?
2015 to 2018
What courses did you study?
BTEC Level 1 Braille
BTEC Level 2 Braille
AS Further Mathematics
A Level Biology
A Level Chemistry (supported by Hereford Sixth Form College)
A Level Mathematics
A Level Psychology
Sports Academy (supporting me as a former GB Disability Gymnast)
How did you find the careers / transition provision at RNC?
It was the first time I had transitions support which didn't try to put me off studying Medicine. Although RNC didn't have much experience of students applying to Oxbridge or Medicine, the Transitions Team were really helpful in supporting me to find information, allowing me to go to open days, assisting me in practicing for entrance exams and with the application itself.
The Team were realistic with me in terms of challenges I might face as a visually impaired person applying to medical school. This was important, as studying Medicine is certainly not something to go into lightly, whether or not you are disabled. But, ultimately, I felt supported in my decision to pursue Medicine as a future career, which was invaluable.
Did you undertake any work experience or placements?
If so, how did you find it?
The best bit of work experience was in my final year, when I spent four days in various hospital departments shadowing clinical scientists. Although I already had my university place at this point, it was an incredible experience. I also did a couple of days experience in an opticians and GP surgery in my first year, as well as doing some Mathematics tutoring with RNC students studying GCSE or Functional Mathematics.
What are you doing now?
I am now in my third year at Oxford University (Trinity College) studying Medicine (a 6 year BMBCh degree). Currently I'm studying the intercalated BA in Medical Sciences, which has involved a few months working in a laboratory and producing a research write-up, as well as studying chosen modules of interest.
What do you hope to be doing long term as a career?
I hope to progress through clinical school and qualify as an NHS doctor. I'm unsure exactly what I want to specialise as yet, as there's a lot of general training to get done first, but I am particularly interested in genetics, cancer and haematological conditions.
Do you have any other professional accolades? Involvement in professional groups, etc?
I have always done a lot of work in disability campaigning and advocacy from a young age, in collaboration with many charities.
Whilst at RNC I chaired the Student Representative Group (SRG) for two years and was the student representative to the Board of Governors for one year.
Since being at university I became involved with the Oxford SU Disabilities Campaign, of which I am now the chair. As part of this I've set up a disability training module for students to learn about disability terminology and accessibility, as well as campaigning for change within the university and being involved with access and outreach projects. I have also been a guest lecturer for first year graduate medical students in their behavioural science module, conducting a seminar about the disability identity in patients.
In 2021, I have been part of a team who got a research paper published about use of pre-clinical medical students during the Covid-19 pandemic (Hughes et al. BMC Medical Education (2020) 20:377).
What did you want to do when you were a child? What was your dream job?
My first serious consideration about a future career was at about age 11, and that was astrophysics! But, I think this is because I'd assumed being a doctor was off limits to me because of my vision. We so often hear the phrase 'they won't be a pilot or a neurosurgeon!' said as a joke in blind communities. I probably won't be a neurosurgeon but, maybe, I'll be an oncologist or a paediatrician!
What is the best advice that you could give to a young person with a visual impairment who is currently going through the careers / transition process?
I feel that it is incredibly important to be able to advocate for yourself and be clear about what adaptations you might need. It's unfortunate that disabled people have to self-advocate in order to receive support but it's a very important skill. Learning how to say what you can and can't do, what support you do and don't need is, in my opinion, the most important thing for the transitions process.
It also helps a lot with self-belief, as other people perceive you as confident which can help you feel more confident.
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