This month, I interviewed Sangam Malani (CO’11). Sangam studied medicine at the University of Sheffield. Here’s what she had to say!
Why did you choose to study medicine?
I had joined medical school keen to enhance my knowledge of the human physiology and anatomy because I found the science fascinating. But my course made me realize that medicine is not just about addressing pathology, physiology, pharmacology and histology as different entities. Medicine is about incorporating all the knowledge one imbibes in a way which would allow them to give the best possible care to their patient. And although belatedly, this is when I realized I wanted to pursue medicine, not for the science (though that was interesting), but to someday make that difference in a patient’s life.
What do you love most about being a doctor?
I love that I have a job where I can say TGIM instead of TGIF.
I love that I am in lucky enough to get paid to do a job I would happily do without compensation.
I love that I continue to learn and grow every single day and I am humbled by how far I have to go.
I love that on some days, I can make all the difference between someone’s life & death.
I love that on days when I am dealing with the latter, a kind word and a gentle touch can make all the difference.
Why did you choose to study at the University of Sheffield?
I chose the University of Sheffield as it had all the things I was looking for in a university. I was primarily drawn towards the University of Sheffield as it was a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities and I really liked the medical research the university undertook. The fact that I would get a chance to conduct research of my own in the second year was a major deciding factor.
Additionally, the university was ranked amongst both the UK’s and world’s Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings and since I didn’t personally know anyone who studying in Sheffield, these rankings helped me make my decision. Other factors include, the Union’s “Sheffield Volunteering” scheme being one of the country’s most active and well-recognised student volunteering schemes which have won various national acclaims over the years and the University’s Faculty of Pure Science boasting an association with five Nobel prizes.
What did you love most about Sheffield?
The above answer is what I had written for The University of Sheffield’s website in the first few months of enrolling. But it was not the red bricks, its research facility, the volunteering scheme or even its world-renowned academia that made me fall in love with Sheffield.
What I loved about Sheffield were its people and what allowed me to explore this was the Sheffield’s Students Union (SU). The student’s union has been ranked the best in the country for the 10th year running. This was something I didn’t even take into consideration when I joined the university but it has made all the difference. The city is built around students and nothing is more symbolic of that than the SU, which even saw an expansion during my time there. The SU offered a vast number of societies to get involved in and it is through this that I got involved beyond my comfort zone, explored parts of the city I hadn’t before and in the process, made lifelong friends!
What advice do you have for students in MYP and DP?
Use this opportunity to explore and explore widely. The CAS programme is amazing! I learnt how to essential life skills like swimming, I learnt how to accept defeat with humility when running for the student body president and I learnt how to lead via my role in the environmental issues committee.
One of the proudest achievements I have is from my DP years when I presented the findings with fellow DP students of bacterial count in the Amphawa river at the United Nation’s World Water Day Conference in 2010. The article can be found here: https://www.unescap.org/events/world-water-day-2010-clean-water-healthy-world and it has written verbatim, “The students’ message called for the ‘generation who contributed to the destruction of the environment’ to see the ‘warning signs’ and dare to change.” I have since presented at 10 national and international conferences but that one, I think truly reinforced in me my sense of duty towards the world as a global citizen, and it is to date an achievement I hold dearest.
What advice do you have for aspiring doctors?
I would advise them to realize that the best part about medicine is that you never stop learning. It never ceases to amaze me that as much as I know, there is more that I don’t know! So that needs to excite you.
But beyond that, I think the below sums it up perfectly. It was written by a nurse but it applies to all healthcare professionals.
For those who are afraid to become a nurse/ doctor because they have a weak stomach, it won’t be the vomit or needles or blood or urine or faeces that turns your stomach. You’ll get used to that. You’ll come to accept it is just part of the job and get to the point where you’re thinking of the 38 different things you have to do while absentmindedly cleaning up a bowel movement. What will turn your stomach will be 40 shallow breaths a minute in a patient in respiratory distress. A freshly born infant that is limp and blue and hasn’t cried yet. Tripled troponin levels on your sweating and anxious patient as you realize they’re having a heart attack. Feeling cord during a cervical check, then trying to hide from your patient the shaking in your voice as you call for help. The pale skin of a Jehovah’s Witness with a haemoglobin of 4 as she declines a blood transfusion and says goodbye to her family because they haven’t found the source of the bleed and she’s running out of time. A blood alcohol level of .18 on a 4-year-old who is barely responsive and being intubated after getting drunk on mouthwash and then hitting his head. An elderly woman in the ICU signing her DNR while her sobbing daughter begs her to reconsider, knowing if treatment is stopped then her mother will die. A child in the paediatric ICU who hasn’t had a visitor in months. Not being able to find the heartbeat on a pregnant mom who hasn’t felt the baby move in a while. In the face of everything else that comes with being a nurse (doctor), I promise you’ll get used to the poop.”
What do you miss most about KIS and Bangkok?
- The feeling when I switched from Ms. Ange’s Math HL to SL (Sorry Ms. Ange!).
- Interrupting Mr. Jim’s class countless times with my questions. (He truly had the patience of a Saint).
- Having the coolest laboratory set up for my EE Project.
- Analysing Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance with Mr. Charles (English HL is the way forward).
- My first dissections on a pig’s lungs and heart with Ms. Gupri and Mr. Chris.
- Being part of “The Herd”: JA’s student-led company and beating all other teams in Thailand.
- Troubling Señor Roman and being labelled niña mimada.
- Playing on Mr. Tri’s football team.
- Causing a riot when changing my outfit from school to sportswear for SC elections (for those who remember).
- Watermelon smoothies.
What are your future plans?
My vision for myself in 10 years entails becoming a consultant in Care of the Elderly. I would pursue hospital medicine because I am inspired by the challenges it poses. However, I would concomitantly be involved with Public Health England or the WHO to help drive policies and develop services.
Geriatrics is a fast-evolving speciality and I would like to be one of the forces driving it. So far, I’ve undertaken research in Stroke Medicine and over the course of the coming years, I see myself pursuing research in other topics pertinent to Elderly Care and Public Health. Something I would like to formalize by undertaking a degree in Public Health.
So far I’ve been involved in local teaching, however, I hope this is only a stepping stone to teaching undergraduates and postgraduate in the future. Because equally important to my contribution to clinical medicine is my contribution to teaching and motivating the next generation of junior doctors.
And hospital and academic medicine aside, I would truly like to give back to the communities I’ve been a part of through aid work in India and Thailand.
Do you continue to exemplify the IB Learner Profile even after graduating from university?
Every single day in every single thing I do.
If you have any questions, here is my email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Though I will say I am the worst person to get advice on personal statements, UKCATS and application process from because that was nearly 8 years ago for me and a lot has changed since.