Spotlight: Yasmin King

Yasmin King (Class of 2018) is currently studying Medicine at the University of Nottingham. With fourth year exams just around the corner, we caught up with her to find out how university is going, her plans for after graduation and to hear her favourite memories from GHS.

Thank you for taking the time to catch up, can you start by telling me how university is going and what you have enjoyed about your experience? 

It’s going pretty well – 4th year has seemed very long, starting in July, and ending in mid-June, but I’ve really enjoyed my placements on paediatrics and obstetrics this year. It’s scary to think about finishing this time next year and preparing for work as a junior doctor; it has come around so quickly! My favourite part of university has been the wide variety of societies and sports available. I mainly enjoyed athletics and white-water kayaking, training alongside GB athletes and attending BUCS (the main inter-university league) for both of them.

What made you choose Medicine; did you consider other university courses?

Like most people who go into medicine, I had a love for chatting with and helping people, as well as a love for biology. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘House’ may have also played a part. Had I not done medicine I probably would have done maths, but like most medics, there’s only one thing we can really see ourselves doing.

Why did you choose Nottingham?

I chose Nottingham having heard great things about it from friends who went there for Medicine and Architecture. They raved about the sporting facilities, night life, and the full body cadaver dissection. I’m actually staying in Nottingham for my foundation posts (the two years following the end of medical school) because I love the area so much. There’s lots of green space, it’s near the Peak District, and there are lots of concerts, events and plays in the city as it isn’t just a student city.

Nottingham also fits in a BMedSci (Bachelor of Medical Sciences) degree in addition to the BMBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery – the normal medical school degree, same as MBChB) in just 5 years.

I have stayed on with the WHO-associated research team from my dissertation, researching risk factors for maternal mortality in pregnant women with COVID-19 globally, and have been lucky enough to get published in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Having nearly finished your degree, what advice would you give to a pupil currently in Year 10 or 11 who is considering applying for Medicine in the future and wants to learn more?

Don’t be afraid to use contacts of contacts of contacts to get work experience. I shadowed a friend of a parent of a cub for whom my dad is the Cub Leader. Also, get as much volunteering and or, work experience in Year 11 and Lower Sixth as you can, without burning out! This will mean you can make the most of your summer relaxing, and doing UKCAT prep, so that in Upper Sixth you can focus on your exams and not exhaust yourself. I remember being told that the “gold standard” for work experience or volunteering was something with children (e.g., volunteering at Disability Challengers), something with the elderly, and something over a longer period of time rather than just a week (e.g., Royal Surrey’s programme that ran for 3-4 months, or at least it did when I was in Lower Sixth). Equally, don’t panic if you can’t get hospital experience, anything is useful and valuable, for example, shadowing in a pharmacy or nursing home will also speak volumes.

Secondly, make sure you work out whether medicine is really what you want to do, or whether it is just aspects of it that appeal to you. The Royal Surrey County Hospital used to do a volunteering programme that is a good way to see what wards are like, and whether you enjoy the environment of caring for patients. There are many satisfying components to working in healthcare, but it’s worth deciding what sacrifices you are willing to make (e.g., only being able to give a “maybe” for your close friend’s wedding because you won’t get your rota until a few weeks before).

What do you wish you had known when you were in Sixth Form?

Don’t worry too much about the location for university. All of my friends have gone far and wide, and everyone has had a great experience. You find your people and your societies wherever you go, as long as your important factors are accounted for (e.g., being close or far enough to home to visit, or not visit). Also, something I can’t stress enough – don’t use mark schemes when doing A level Maths practice papers! You’ll struggle a lot more to begin with, but you will be thanking yourself getting closer to exams when you have learned to work out the next step yourself, rather than instinctively “just checking one step” on the mark scheme.

How did you find the first year at university and studying your course?

Nottingham medicine has a lot of contact hours, which worked well for me as there was more structure. I loved my first year trying lots of different sports and making the most of the social opportunities. I chose catered halls which made life easier not having to worry about cooking, plus it was a great way to socialise because we would go to the dining hall as a group. I found that in first year, as long as you attended and engaged with lectures, tutorials, and seminars, you could keep up without having to do much extra work, allowing for time to socialise and do hobbies. You do still notice a difference between your amount of work and people on other courses, but it isn’t awful in early years. The workload picks up a bit later on so it’s definitely worth enjoying your early years and establishing your wind-down and stress-relieving hobbies early on.

How are you finding your clinical placements?

Clinical placement has been by far my favourite part of medical school, unsurprisingly. We had a few days in early years where you feel like you don’t know anything, so it’s really satisfying in clinical years when you start thinking “ooh yes I’ve heard of this one” and eventually being able to identify, investigate, and suggest a management plan for an illness. You move around different specialties and hospitals, getting a taste of everything. In our GP rotation we even got to run our own consultations, checking with the GP after whether they agreed with our management (and obviously for them to prescribe or order tests). My favourite placement so far has been paediatrics, often spending time with the children after the ward round. I also did an optional module in the NICU and spent 4 weeks assessing and caring for the tiny neonates (albeit the slightly healthier and happier ones).

What may your plans look like after university?

I will be doing my 2 foundation years in the Nottingham and Derby area, and then I plan on moving down to Peninsula (Devon/Cornwall) for training (most likely paediatrics, acute medicine, obs & gynae and GP). I hope to do some work outside of clinical practice in medical education, and sexual health education as I feel this is something that lacks in the national curriculum.

Lots to keep you busy then! To finish I want to ask a couple of questions about your time at GHS, starting with who was your favourite teacher and why?

I can’t say I had a favourite as I loved all my teachers at GHS, especially the ones patient enough to answer my millions of questions!!

And what was your favourite memory from your time at GHS?

Although not one specific memory, I do love telling people about the chaos of Assassins week. It always gets a variety of shocked and confused reactions. Being the golden snitch during House Quidditch was also a particular highlight. There are often too many to list!