By Dr. Patrice Baptiste MBBS, BSc(Hons), MRCGP
Put simply I am a general practitioner (GP) working part time in a GP surgery with the remainder of my time divided between other careers. I am a writer, entrepreneur, speaker and medical educator!
How did I get here?
I would not say my path to a medical career was easy, far from it, but it was easy knowing what career I wanted to embark on from a young age. With this focus I was able to drown out distractions and honed in on what I needed to do to achieve my dream.
I studied at a comprehensive school in East London, where, like many comprehensive schools there was minimal understanding and support regarding the medical school application process. I had a few supportive teachers who helped me with mock interviews and leadership roles within school but most of the credit has to be given to my family. My parents helped me strengthen my application in other areas such as helping me secure work experience and first aid as well as volunteering opportunities.
I was elated when I was offered a place to study Medicine at University College London (UCL) during 2007. During those six years at UCL I worked really hard (!) but I had so many amazing experiences and met many interesting and wonderful people. I completed my medical degree during 2013; this was when the real work began! I then embarked on and completed my foundation training (this is two years of compulsory training within the NHS) and then took a break for one year. I then completed my training to be a GP over three years and here I am today.
Why was it Important to Me to Support Students like You?
There were many reasons I started DreamSmartTutors, but the main reasons were:
- I remembered that although I had a lot of support from my family and school it was not nearly as much as some of the other students I studied with at UCL. I had to do a lot of research about the application process myself and then ultimately sought out help from my school and family to help me tick the boxes necessary. It would have been so useful if I had a mentor to tell me exactly what I had to do and the best way to do it. Of course, not having as much support helped me grow in so many ways, for instance it made me more independent and self reliant. Some of the support we offer at DreamSmartTutors includes connecting students who want to study medicine with medical students and doctors through our courses, in addition to providing work experience and a scholarship programme where students can receive one-to-one mentoring from me.
- When I took a year out of training I was unsure if I wanted to return to medicine and ultimately work as a doctor. This was a really difficult time for me because I knew I always wanted to be a doctor, so to question this decision was like feeling lost. Fortunately I realised that I still wanted to be a doctor and decided to return to training. One of the things that would have helped me was doing more research into the career, not only when applying but also during my medical training. During my time out of training I volunteered at countless events in schools and realised that the students who wanted to apply to medicine had no real idea about the challenges that awaited them, like I didn’t. It was therefore crucial that the organisation I created emphasized the importance of researching a career and supported students with how to do this.
Top Tips for Success
- What does success mean to you?
I am often viewed as being ‘successful’ because I have achieved a number of things within and outside of Medicine. This is of course something to be proud of but success means different things to different people. At this point, you should take a moment to consider what success means to you. Is it having an amazing career and a family? Is it being able to work two days a week, or running your own business and having ‘financial freedom’? By realising what your level(s) of success is, you can easily plan your career path.
- What do YOU want to do?
As you can imagine, a medical career is hard, but it can also be really rewarding and provide you with exciting experiences and opportunities. But would I have come this far if someone else wanted me to pursue this career? The answer is of course no. I would never have studied as hard or for as long if it was not MY dream I wanted to pursue.
- Are you able to stand alone?
In life there are many times when you have to do what is right for you and sometimes this means doing things alone. I want you to realise that there is nothing wrong with doing things on your own. For instance if you have an idea or a vision that you want to pursue there is nothing wrong with focusing on that even if others do not see the potential you see. Or, if you disagree with your friends about something, would you be able to stand alone and voice your opinion or would you keep quiet and follow the crowd? Being independent and following your own mind will take you far in whatever career you choose and also in life.
- Do you listen to your parents and teachers?
I remember all too clearly what it was like being at school. Sometimes you feel that everyone is nagging you and you just want to be left alone! However, I would urge you to look at things from a different perspective. Your parents and teachers have experience, something you do not have at this stage in life! They also care and want the best for you. So, although you may not agree with everything they say and ultimately it is your life and your decision, take a moment to listen to their views and why they hold their opinions.
So, that is my experience and some of my tips for success. If you want to study Medicine and need further support please don’t hesitate to visit my website and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org