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School: Delhi Public School International, New Delhi, India
Studied: Cambridge IGCSEs in Biology, Chemistry, English (as a First Language), English Literature, History, Hindi (as a Second Language), Mathematics, Physics; Cambridge International AS Level English Language; Cambridge International A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
Went on to: Currently studying for an MBBS – Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery – at the University of Delhi, Maulana Azad Medical College
Future plans: A career in surgery and clinical research
I was very sure that I wanted to pursue medicine and surgery at university, and so I chose maths and science subjects as these were required when applying for the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) course. They were also essential preparation for the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), a competitive exam taken as part of the admissions process for medical colleges in India. However, falling in love with science at Cambridge IGCSE-level certainly helped me make my decision, and I also enjoyed studying these subjects for my Cambridge International AS & A Levels.
Most of all, the Cambridge curriculum instilled a habit of studying with passion and understanding that continues to help me at university. For example, at school I was encouraged to be a self-directed learner using multiple, and often non-traditional sources, and to take part in extra-curricular activities. In addition, my critical and applied thinking skills were certainly enhanced, especially when facing unexpected or new situations and questions. These skills have also proved to be extremely helpful, not only for the NEET, but also when I started the MBBS curriculum. My communication skills also improved, written as well as oral, which was important as both are of paramount importance in medicine as you have to interact with patients, and with medical and other professionals.
Life at university was certainly unexpected in the beginning. Theoretically it was everything I had expected, but only by being in the midst of university life do you truly realise how interesting it is, and fully appreciate the magnitude of what you are studying. For example, nothing can ever prepare you for dissecting a cadaver for the first time, or examining your first patient in a clinical posting. The MBBS curriculum is also more rigorous than expected, and while at school you might expect your college studies to be theoretical and academic, medicine has proved to be a much more practical experience, especially now that I am starting my clinical studies. Furthermore, I don’t think I realised the responsibility that comes with my studies until I actually started my clinical courses.
The pandemic has been very bad for medical education. Even though online lectures are regular and comprehensive, and supplemented by small group discussions, traditional face-to-face teaching is irreplaceable. You can teach theoretical subjects online, but we have really missed out on practical and clinical teaching. A clinical posting, for example, is an opportunity to actually go to a hospital and examine or take the history of a patient, shadow a resident, or help a postgraduate student prepare reports or notes, and this cannot happen online. However, [at time of writing], we are optimistic that offline teaching and clinical postings will resume soon.
I wish to specialise in surgery in the future but I also have an avid interest in research, and so I would also like to work as a clinician researcher.
Absolutely, and especially students planning to study medicine and surgery. It is certainly worth it as Cambridge qualifications can help your progress at university.