As part of our plans to expand this year, we have decided to share the stories of many Melanin Medics (both doctors and medical students). We believe that it is very important to show that our journeys to Medicine may differ greatly but ultimately the destination remains the same. Through out the year we will be interviewing various Melanin Medics at different stages in their training/ careers, giving them the opportunity to share their personal stories of the steps they took to excel in their careers and get to where they are today.
Medicine is without a doubt a time consuming career and continues in this way right up until you stop practising. With that being said it is very important to ensure that Medicine isn’t all that defines you. Right from the medical school application stage, being an all rounded person is a quality that is constantly reinforced and making sure that you are able to manage your time effectively and make time to the things you enjoy is equally as important. There are so many opportunities in medical school to pursue your interests alongside your studies! The things you can do to define yourself as being more than just a medical student or doctor are limitless e.g. start or join a society, volunteer for a charity, set up your own social action initiative, take part in courses, be a creative (e.g. youtuber), be a mentor and much more.
We had the privilege of being able to interview Kwarteng Sarfo, a medical student at Imperial College London, with dreams of becoming a vascular or GIT surgeon or consultant Endocrinologist in the future. Furthermore he has a great interest in technology and wishes to amalgamate his medical career and love for technology in the future. Social mobility, university access and empowerment of young individuals, is a subject close to home for Kwarteng and in the near future he hopes to set up an organisation that tackles these subjects.
MM: WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF YOUR MEDICAL STUDIES?
KS: Variety of things. Currently teaching myself video editing. Hoping to learn full stack development at some point and also eventually teach myself guitar. At the moment, I am learning Italian.
Previous things include;
General officer for logistics and marketing
Amos Bursary Scholar
President of ACS
Powerlist foundation Deloitte Leadership programme delegate
Social media officer for UGCY
Sports officer for ACS
IT officer for ACS
Target Oxbridge E-mentor
Research Analyst intern for NYU
MM: HOW DID YOU GET THESE OPPORTUNITIES? WAS IT EASY FOR YOU TO GET THESE OPPORTUNITIES?
KS: Getting these opportunities is achievable through the combination of who you know and what is available. Attending a university such as Imperial is extremely advantageous when it comes to opportunities as not only does it have a pool of talented students moreover the university has excess to things like Lynda which is a platform, free of charge to imperial students, that I can use to teach myself full stack web development and video editing for example.
In addition to this, I believe networking and building opportunity with other individuals really does help open you up to different aspects of life. This is very important especially when Imperial is a STEM related university as you can meet people from the humanities or graphics department or even those who have a love for music and sports
MM: HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE COMMITMENTS OF STUDYING A MEDICAL DEGREE WITH EVERYTHING ELSE?
KS: Balancing is very difficult and usually something is sacrificed. When it comes to carrying out extracurricular stuff you really need to be aware of 2 things: 1. Why do you want to do those activities? (is it to build the skill, have another source of income or is it something you enjoy doing?) 2. Don’t stretch yourself thin (don’t take too many things on at one time because they become difficult to maintain all together)
All in all it is possible but I will be real with you it is very difficult. I tried various activities outside my degree, I had little time for my actual degree and so that suffered however I was reassured because my original goal isn’t to win all the prizes in medical school and get a 1st (although it will be nice) – I truly want to develop as an individual and I believe these extracurricular activities will teach me that.
A few practical tips would be timetabling, so being able to arrange your time effectively and also the skill of prioritising work load.
MM: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO BE MORE THAN JUST A MEDIC?
KS: Being a medic to me at times can be boring and honestly keeps you narrow minded. By carrying out different activities you build your character and at times you can even have a more meaningful discussion with your patients because all you know is not medicine. Moreover, it also allows me to bring more to the table in terms of knowledge, understanding and ideas for a problem than a medic would.
MM: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RECENT PUSH FOR MEDICS TO DO MORE OUTSIDE OF MEDICINE?
KS: I think it is needed in order for medics to feel they have accomplished more in their lives, however I believe there needs to be a balance between that and medicine itself because the primary role a medic plays in society is that of a doctor so indulge in other activities but remember your first love I would say and make sure you’re up to date with that.
MM: WHAT SKILLS HAVE YOU LEARNT THAT COULD BE TRANSFERRED TO MEDICINE/YOUR MEDICAL CAREER?
Being able to delegate
MM: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BE MORE THAN JUST A MEDIC?
KS: Ask yourself the following questions:
Why do you want to do these activities?
Do you want to win all the prizes in medical school and get a 1st?
Do you have the time management to balance the two?
What are we made of? Some would say the very best healthcare professionals. Others would say our excellence and ability to create new treatments and technologies. And while that’s all true, we are more. We are made of a belief that care should never be delivered without compassion. That treating patients is our job but treating people is our difference. That’s what we’re made of.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, please share and follow our blog! Would you like to share your Journey to Medicine on the Melanin Medics blog? We would love to hear from you. Please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviewed by Nadia Ibrahim