In this series of articles, medical students from across the UK speak about their personal journey to medicine. Ishika is an undergraduate medical student at Aston Medical School
Who am I?
I’m Ishika Mehrotra , an Aston medical student with big dreams, hoping to turn mine and yours into reality.
I have an avid interest in baking (@ishikascakes on Instagram) and taking pictures of it, spending time with my family, mountain climbing, playing a couple of instruments, and exploring how the human body works.
“It’s not life job to make everything perfect, it's our own challenge”
Standing here and looking back at my journey, it has not been easy but I’m grateful for all the lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
Medicine is a natural calling, and if you’ve felt it, I just have three words for you, go for it. But for some people like me, it wasn’t an easy decision. There was always a doubt in my mind that I could never be the ‘ideal’ medical student. After successfully finishing the first year of medical school, I can say that “the best things in life are often the ones hardest to get. Yet they are also the ones that are easiest to find, usually right in front of your face.”
I’ve learnt to live life with no regrets and choosing this career has made me who I am today.
WHAT IF YOU’RE NOT DOING WELL IN HIGH SCHOOL?
Motivation and doing well go hand in hand. One feels happy and motivated if they score good grades. But even if you’re not doing well,
1. Never, ever lose hope.
Math was just not my subject, I cried solving almost every numerical that some of my friends excelled at. I asked myself day and again and wished I could be like them, but it soon dawned upon me that I was doing more harm trying to be someone I’m not. It does not matter if you’re not good at something that seems easy to others, because you’re an individual with your own strengths and weaknesses. All I had to do, was realize mine. All I had to do was never lose hope on myself and try doing something else.
First day of psychology class and I felt like I belonged there( yes I scored my highest in my psychology finals).
Day by day, my love for biology grew, how is the body capable of performing such complex functions? How do certain drug combinations affect the body? I was beyond mesmerized and could not stop thinking about it. This is when I knew that I was meant to pursue this. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, it does not matter when you decide you want to be a doctor. Doesn’t matter if its year 1 or year 12. What matters is your intention, and the extent to which you want to pursue a certain career.
2. There's no ‘ideal’
Each one of us is unique and have individually chosen to be a part of medical school for our own personal reasons. It’s the distinctive combination of qualities that will make you a good doctor.
3. Keep dreaming
The more you dream about something, the stronger it affects your subconscious thoughts and trust me, it will turn into reality. I did not want to be a doctor since day 1, but the day I realized, I knew there was no going back. I knew I wanted to devote my life to save others. The intention purely stemmed from passion, and not what causes many people to get into this profession.
School taught me a lot about myself and what works for me and I recommend everyone to find the study techniques that suit them in school. Once university starts, you’ll have an upper edge if you know what you’re good at.
4. Be the Eternal Optimist
Learn to see the best in every situation. Thinking really does shape reality. The size of your life reflects the size of your thinking. If you think you’re not the ‘ideal’ candidate, if you think you’re not good
enough, if you think you won’t be able to make a difference, there’s no way you will take action to make your goal a reality. Impossible thinking manifests itself.
No one tells you this, but getting into med school is way more nerve-wracking than actually being in one. 5 choices, 4 medicine, and 1 non med. 1 perfect personal statement, 1 unbeatable UKCAT score, A+ in all subjects, amazing extra curricular activities, work experience, and a bit of luck. Trust me, everything is variable.
I think it’s important to remain grounded and remind yourself time and again of why you’re putting the effort in, and why it means so much to you because it will be worth it. I had a lot of support from my family and friends but the best support comes from within. There does not exist a perfect personal statement, there only exists a honest and unique one that will make you stand out amongst hundred other candidates, but you need to be true to yourself, stick to your strengths and display them. I cannot remember the amount of times I’ve made changes to my personal statement. Remember, your first draft is never going to be your final one. Keep adding and highlighting what makes you YOU.
UKCAT is something I struggled with, and each time I got a different score. I’ve realized that there is honestly no short cut to achieving a good score. It is just practice. How does a surgeon master the technique of suturing? By practicing it every day, similarly, UKCAT is something that needs to be practiced religiously. Grasp the concepts and techniques of each block and apply them to different questions. Practice with others and always always ask for feedback. Most importantly, go with a positive mindset on the day of your exam. Every exam is always going to be different and if you feel determined and calm, you will ace it.
RETHINKING MEDICAL SCHOOL
The day I received my offers was bittersweet for me. I got 3 offers, and 2 rejections. Unfortunately, 2 offered me non medicine courses and one offered me medicine. It was a setback to me, and it made me overthink my choices and I thought that I wasn’t capable of getting into medical school anyway. But I didn’t realize that I was being ungrateful for the one acceptance I had gotten. Instead, I was wasting time feeling sorry for myself.
“Self pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics, it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality”- John Gardner.
It was not my first choice, but I had still made it. If something is meant to be, it will find its own way to happen without you realizing. My dreams were becoming a reality in front of my eyes and I couldn’t be happier. Learn to believe, have faith, and value your wins. Everything is a big deal if it means something to you. Celebrate your success and learn from your failures and turn them into successes the next time. Remember to fail faster, and succeed sooner. The real risk lies in risk-less living.
A burning question of all medical students is figuring out how to study. Studying in medical school is completely different from high school because of the sheer volume you get in medical school. I've realized that it’s not having to be smart but its more about the work that you put into medical school.
“It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. Its that some people are ready to change and others are not” -James Gordon
You need to figure out the learning technique that are compatible with your brain, and get out of the habit of not asking people for help. Once you start implementing these changes, you’ll see a better and more modified version of yourself. Remember, change only happens outside your comfort zone.
REFLECTION OF MY FIRST YEAR
“You cannot control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them”- Maya Angelou
It's very important to establish that with the highs come lows, and it’s easy to feel as if you’re not doing enough, when in reality you wouldn’t be where you were if you did not have the potential that was recognized in you. There were days when I feared that I’ll never be able to help any patient because I’m not able to understand one topic, there were days when I wasn’t in the mental space to study because of the circumstances around me, there were days when I felt home sick and just wanted to leave everything and head home. Today, I know that those days were completely normal, It’s not uncommon to have such feelings because it has made me a much stronger person today. Do not let fear hold you back and deter you from following your passions. Life is an experiment, and the more experiments you make the better.
It takes years to become a doctor, but seconds to realize the worth of one.
“Patience, persistence and perspiration makes an unbeatable combination for success.” - Napoleon Hill.