9 Nov 2017

Reya Shah, DTMH September 2017

With final exams looming next week (!), the diploma is slowly, and all-too-quickly drawing to a close. I was warned it would be this way, but even so, 3 months just seems too short to explore Liverpool, spend time with new friends and consolidate such a wide array of information. I haven’t even found a chance to climb the Anglican cathedral yet! One exciting development this week was our trip to the LSTM herpetarium to see the snakes, and watch the extraction of venom.

Reflecting on the course as it comes to an end, I feel that the best part of this diploma has certainly been the people I have come across who have inspired me. I, like many others, have just completed my Foundation training and felt somewhat weary, tattered and beleaguered come August (having just completed 4 months on an A&E SHO rota). I have always wanted to pursue a career in global health, but was unsure how to go about this. I felt lost. Through a rather meandering pathway, I found myself on this course and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made.

Firstly, as previous bloggers have mentioned, this has been an extremely fun 3 months, with what has to be one of the coolest bunches of people to come together, anywhere! That’s a pretty bold statement, but just hear me out. Our numbers include marathon-runners, wild swimmers and a member of the Dublin Mountain Rescue team. Our hobbies are diverse and range from making honey to martial arts to playing the ukelele. A group of DTMHers spent a weekend at a stone skipping competition, and one of our fellow students spends her free time fearlessly hanging upside down performing aerial acrobatics. In fact, there are so many talents between us, that I am unsure how anyone finds time to actually practice any medicine.

The real privilege of this course are the lecturers we have here at LSTM, who are world leaders in their fields. Many take the time to tell us about the varied and colourful careers they have led, with experiences that have taken them around the world. In this post-MTAS world, it is a refreshing and much-needed reminder that some of our most celebrated academics and clinicians have not had a direct trajectory to the top of their fields. Highlights include learning about Ebola from Dr Tim O’Dempsey, who led the WHO clinical response in Kenema, Sierra Leone; humanitarian agencies from Prof. Joe Valadez, who worked with the Rwandan government immediately post-genocide, and about rabies from Prof. Tom Solomon, who has treated one of the few UK cases in the last century. Inspiration also comes from fellow classmates: one of our cohort was responsible for testing diagnostics in the field during the Ebola crisis and has a unique insight into the challenges faced. The LSTM has a number of visiting speakers and last week we were lucky enough to hear Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, talk about “why you shouldn’t believe what you read in medical journals,” a fascinating analysis on reliability and bias in medical research.

Despite the fear of exams in a week hanging over my head (Why, oh why, did I sign up for this?!), I can honestly say that doing this diploma has reinvigorated my desire to practice medicine, and I would thoroughly recommend it to any doctor considering doing it.

My preferred method of writing is usually attempting to write poetry, but I have struggled this week! You have escaped with a limerick this time. I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog; it has been my pleasure to write it. There will still be some more from our cohort, but for my part, I bid you adieu!

There once was a doctor in 'Pool
Studying at the Tropical School
Her mind all a-blither
Revision stalls; she dithers
Wishing she had longer in ‘Pool