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Profile: Abbie Brooks

  • Programme: Medicine (MBBS), 2008
  • Current job: Third-year GP trainee in York
  • Where are you now?

    I'm currently a GP registrar at a local rural surgery in York. My day usually involves morning and afternoon surgeries seeing both routine and urgent cases. I discuss complex cases with my trainer, implement management plans and refer as appropriate. This is the final year of my GP training -- soon I could be a 'real' GP in the HYMS patch, hopefully getting involved in teaching future students!

    What do you remember from your time at HYMS?

    I had a fantastic time at HYMS. It was like being part of a huge family. And as the 'pioneering' first graduating year, it felt special to be part of an evolving school. I felt like we were really shaping its future.

    Problem-based learning really suited my learning style, but it did require good motivation to do all of the self-directed learning. My favourite part of the week was always clinical placement -- getting dressed smartly and going to talk to real patients. I think is where my interest in general practice started.

    I also enjoyed being part of the different societies and committees, organising the graduation ball and helping to create the school's first ever yearbook.

    There are so many memorable moments from my five years! I remember the day when we all arrived in York as strangers and sat outside one of the halls of residents getting to know each other, mingling with staff, parents and fellow students. Those first three weeks of living closely together allowed us to really bond as a cohort, and created relationships which have lasted far beyond medical school. All my best friends are HYMS graduates -- we're all still very close, attending each other's weddings, baby showers and so on. It's lovely to work with ex-HYMS docs too: half of my fellow GP trainees were in my year and we continue to reminisce and hark after the good old days of virtual patients and the video link!

    My lasting impression of HYMS will always be one of happy memories. Five years went by ridiculously fast. I've taken with me lasting relationships, both personal and professional, and a real enthusiasm for
    medicine. I've also come away from medical school with a real desire to teach, whether informally as a junior doctor or even as a PBL tutor in the future.

    Did you feel well prepared for your career?

    Yes, my time at HYMS really did help. As a student, I got to experience how different practices are run and I witnesssed a number of different consultation styles which allowed me to work on my own style and skills. Even today, I continue to work in the HYMS area. As a student, I built up relationships with some of the local GPs, and it's nice to return to these practices as a fully-qualified doctor!

    I was always drawn towards general practice, as it combines the need for good clinical knowledge with teamwork, and more importantly it allows you to develop ongoing relationships with patients are and their families. So throughout medical school I always thought I would probably end up as a GP, even though I thoroughly enjoyed other jobs.

    Were there any staff who particularly inspired you?

    To pick a favourite member of staff is so tough! As a year group, we had so many people we were close to.

    Steven Oliver will always be a firm favourite, for making stats simple and encouraging us all to love Theme C! John Cookson and Bill Gillespie will forever be close to our hearts. They shaped the medical school and allowed us to shape it with them. And I still fondly think about my PBL tutors, and I regularly bump into Jonny Thow, my first ever placement tutor!

    What advice would you give to someone thinking about medicine?

    Only apply if you want to do it. It's a hard slog, but enjoyable. Your people skills are just as important as your knowledge base. And enjoy your first year of uni -- you'll never get it back!

    Make the most of time spent in clinic, because this is where you'll see the most interesting pathology. But do absorb whatever you can when allocated to acute medical units, and get involved.

    Once you've graduated, organisation and time-keeping skills are going to be your best friends. The change from student to doctor is huge. Suddenly you have responsibility and the expectation that you can make a diagnosis and even go on to cure a patient! It is hard work, not always glamorous (rarely in fact), wearing a stethoscope around your neck soon gets old and sometimes is a thankless job, however it is all worth it - when you get that diagnosis right or the patient tells you how much they appreciate your care, you can have a quiet smile to yourself and move on to the next job in hand. Be prepared to run around with paperwork, blood forms and scan requests. You may feel more like a secretary than a clinician in your first months as a doctor, but it will get better!

    How would you sum up HYMS in three words?

    Forward-thinking, fresh, family.

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