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Jack Brophy

jbrophyYear: Second (At time of interview: January 2019)
Hometown: Wanstead, East London
Education: English at UCL

What work experience had you gained before coming here?

The most important work experience I did was actually an admin job working in HIV clinical trials at a research department in London. Although it was non-clinical I still got to meet and talk to a lot of patients and learnt a lot about a fascinating area of medicine. That job was what led me to think about applying for Medicine, but as it was non-clinical it didn't satisfy Warwick's work experience requirements. To remedy that I did a week long placement in Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine at UCLH and I worked as a ward volunteer at the Royal Free.

Why did you choose Warwick?

Warwick only admits graduates, so you are in a proper adult learning and social environment, rather that with people who have just left school. The course is also designed specifically for graduates and to be done in four years, rather than an abbreviated version of a six year course that you find at other medical schools.

How are you finding the MB ChB so far?

I've really enjoyed it so far - first year was intense but very interesting. I've just started core clinical education, which is a lot less structured but there are so many great learning opportunities for you to find. I spent a great morning in the eye casualty clinic, learnt a lot of new things as well as revising the anatomy and physiology I had learnt last year!

How have you found the transition from English to Medicine?

Overall I've found it manageable. I was quite lucky to have Chemistry A level, which definitely helped me understand the biochemistry parts of the first year curriculum. I also did a bit of work in the summer before term started, working through a book called Catch Up Compendium: Life and Medical Sciences, which I would recommend. Once I started I knew I would have to do more work than the biomedical sciences students to catch up, but there was a lot of support available, including some excellent peer support tailored to non-science background students. By the middle of the second term I think everyone had caught up to a similar level.

What do you most enjoy about the course?

The best bit for me is when you find a really useful learning opportunity on the wards. I met a patient last term who was very keen to be involved in teaching, and we had a really useful conversation about her condition which really helped clarify my understanding of the natural history of the disease. My consultant then assisted me in examining her and probed my knowledge and understanding of the findings. Clinical learning opportunities like that are really useful at helping you connect the dots between all the bits of medicine you learn in lectures and help you see the whole picture. It's a really satisfying feeling when it goes well!

Have you been involved in any extracurricular activities during your time here?

I'm the co-president of the Oncology and Palliative Medicine Society, which is really fun. I've helped us develop a good relationship with the learning and development team at Macmillan, so they come to Warwick once a term to run teaching sessions for us. I'm also on the Agenda Committee for the BMA Medical Students Conference, which is a really interesting and exciting opportunity to meet medical students from across the country to discuss medical and trade union politics. I was also recently elected as the chair of the Student Staff Liason Committee, which is a really useful forum for solving problems and discussing potential improvements to all areas of the medical school, from estates to the curriculum.

Do you have any idea at this stage about which specialty you’d like to pursue?

Not a clue. I really like understanding disease on a cellular level, so maybe one of the pathological or microbiological specialties. But then again I really enjoy working with patients, which there is much less of in those specialties. I think the best thing is to keep your options open for as long as possible and follow what excites you.

Do you have any advice for people applying to the MB ChB at Warwick?

Get as much clinical work experience as possible, shadowing junior doctors (F1/2s are really useful) and even chatting to medical students on the wards. It's the only way you'll know if you'll like the work and style of learning, even if you've had your heart set on being a doctor since you were small. Reflect on what you see: what did you experience and what does it mean to you? Prepare as much as possible for the UKCAT - it's important. At interviews, don't forget to show your human side. Robots don't make for good doctors so they'll be assessing your communication skills and empathy as well as asking you about your work experience/medical ethics/etc.