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Becoming a doctor in the NHS

Profile of a 'late entry' medical student

[Photo: Stuart Maitland Knibb] Stuart Maitland Knibb, a University of Leicester medical student, submitted an entry to the British MA News Writing Competition 2001. He was later delighted to discover that it was to be featured in Becoming A Doctor in the NHS, an NHS Careers publication which came out in December 2002, and that he was to appear on the front cover of this glossy publication. His article was one of only four chosen and profiles his career and experiences:  

ďI left school at 16 with a handful of qualifications. I worked in retailing and print management but, after a personal bereavement, I couldnít see myself doing that all my life. So at 21, I started work as a nursing assistant, took the entrance exam, and joined a nursing diploma course. I qualified three years later, specialising in nursing for people with learning disabilities.

Working as a nurse I became more and more interested in the processes of disease and treatment: why particular symptoms appeared, how did the drugs work on the disorder? By my late twenties Iíd decided I wanted to be a doctor.

There were difficulties. Iíd just got married and Joanne was expecting. Weíd decided that when the baby came, Joanne would be a full-time mum. So I had to carry on earning. We reckoned we could just manage if I continued to work part-time as a nurse during the training.

ďThen there was the academic hurdle. I was accepted on to an access to medicine course in Kingís Lynn  which meant staying away in the week. Itís a course that brings you up to A-Level speed on sciences for medicine, building on what you have already learned in your previous career. I donít think there are that many round the country, and thereís no guarantee it will win you a place in medical school. I was in a group of twelve and I think half of us got places.

ďIím studying at Leicester where I can get to from home. I worked as a nurse 30 hours a week for the first two years, mainly two long night shifts at the weekend. Now Iím sponsored by the RAF, so Iíve reduced the number of hours I work to 15 or 20 a week, mainly in daytime or evening shifts. Itís tough. But I donít get so involved in the hectic social life that medical students seem to have, so I guess I have extra time and energy as a result. And I think that being a bit older and having worked full-time for years, you tend to be more disciplined about your studies. My exam results are good, so Iím hopeful about finishing the course successfully.

ď Under the terms of my sponsorship, Iíll then work for a year as a PRHO before becoming an RAF doctor. The programme is an excellent training package: Iíll be working in general hospitals or as a GP on RAF bases. Iíll get the opportunity for pre-admission A&E work which is an area that really appeals to me. After 6 years I can decide whether to stay with the RAF or go my own way.

ďAs an older student, I donít feel like a fish out of water. Thereís a good mix of people on the course, and Iím happy with the study pressures too: I think you need the intensity of the course to reinforce the knowledge youíre acquiring. And although the holiday periods are shorter than for other students, theyíre a lot longer than Iíve been used to in my previous jobs. I feel like Iím fulfilling a lifeís ambition.Ē

February 2003

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Last updated: 21 February 2003 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall

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