Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to be a doctor. I studied at a comprehensive school and then successfully completed my medical degree at University College London (UCL). I am now working as a medical doctor in London. I continue to work closely with all students but especially students who want to enter into the medical field. I am a School Speaker, STEM ambassador, foundation governor and I have been a Director Appointee at a primary school for two years. I was one of the three finalists in the Rising Star STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) category at the 2016 Black British Business Awards and one of the four finalists at the 2016 Precious Awards.
I thoroughly enjoy teaching and I am passionate about education. I am relatable to the students I teach and I believe this helps them learn. I remember the lack of connections, support and guidance when I was applying to medical school so I do my utmost best to ensure students in a similar position have the support they need.
Despite a number of existing organisations and widening participation schemes run by universities there still remains a marked disparity in the number of students from disadvantaged and Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) backgrounds, (especially Black Caribbean students) studying at highly selective or (Russell Group universities) and in top professions such as Medicine, Law, Journalism and Politics, especially at the upper echelons.
1. A lack of understanding
I often ask students “Do you know what a doctor does?” The responses I often get are “doctors cure people” or “doctors diagnose and treat patients”. Whilst this is true to an extent there is so much more to our job or vocation. The students are not aware of what doctors do on a daily basis and they do not fully understand the workings of the NHS. When selecting a career it is imperative that students make informed decisions.
2. A challenging application process
So, you know you want to become a doctor but how do you actually get there? Applying to medical school can be daunting especially where there is so much you have to do in order to fulfill the desired criteria. One of the issues is organising work experience which can be incredibly hard to secure.
3. Not enough guidance and support
Again, there is so much to do when preparing to apply to medical school and often students may not have the guidance needed. They may not have the vital contacts to help them secure that coveted place at medical school. Furthermore, some schools have careers advisers and co-ordinators but of course there is a limit to what they will know about the professions students may be interested in.
As a result I have designed three courses to help students successfully apply to medical school and understand Medicine more as a career.
In addition to the existing courses my team and I are also working on courses for the BMAT and UKCAT preparation along with the Oxbridge application and interview. We also provide professional services which are tailored to the individual needs of the student.
Why are we Different?
1. Informed decisions
As a doctor I am always talking to people; I have to continuously make sure I include my patients in any decision making process. I have to inform them of all the pertinent information so that they can make an informed decision about any treatment they may need. I apply this to the students I work with whether they are prospective medical students or not. Choosing a career at such a young age can be so hard to do when you have had little life experience. I understand this and I try to give a realist overview of a career in medicine. I neither persuade nor dissuade students about a career in medicine, rather I provide them with as much information as possible about medical school and working as a doctor. Ultimately, the decision is theirs.
2. Medicine as a career
Choosing a career like medicine should not be a light-hearted decision nor should it be someone else's decision. At DreamSmartTutors we do not only help students successfully apply to medical school but we provide them with a deeper understanding of the career path of a doctor, the various types of doctors and how the NHS is structured, (of course there is limit to how much you can tell or show because they will only know if it is truly suited to them once they begin that career). One thing I would also stress is that being a medical student is very different to being a doctor. Yes, you are exposed to clinical life but one of the main differences is the responsibility you have. Patients become your responsibility; it is now YOU who has to manage them and do so adequately.
I have always enjoyed teaching, probably because I saw a number of flaws from teaching at all levels- from a student at school, to a medical student being taught on the wards and as doctor. I use my own experiences to shape the lessons and courses I produce for the students. Furthermore the tutors I have selected (who are medical students) are also passionate about teaching and helping students and they have demonstrated this on several occasions. We are all relatable and can speak to students at an appropriate level for them to grasp important concepts and therefore optimize learning.
We have all been through the application process and know how stressful and daunting it can be. The medical students I have selected have had multiple interviews and offers between them very recently, so they are well equipped to advise others. With connections to junior and more experienced doctors who have a wealth of experience and knowledge we are in one of the best positions to provide support and guidance to prospective medical students. The courses and professional services provided are informative with high quality content; they provide guidance and clarity in a challenging application process.
5. Affordability and widening participation
The courses and personalized lessons we offer are affordable. We offer schools a heavily discounted rate for our courses and lessons to ensure we help as many students as possible. In the future we are hoping to offer several courses for free in partnership with schools, charities and other organisations often .
6. Doctors in schools
i often go into schools to work with students because I would have loved it if a doctor walked into my school and told me about their career and what it was really like to be a doctor. I did a lot of research into medicine but looking back at my younger self I still did not truly understand or appreciate the challenging nature of this profession. How could I? You do have to work in your chosen field for you to gain experience and then decide if this is what you want to do or not. I am often told by schools that they struggle with finding doctors to speak to their students. Doctors are indeed busy but at DreamSmartTutors we aim to connect doctors and medical students with more schools so that students can gain a better understanding about life as a doctor.
So, I believe that we are offering something very different and much needed to all students who want to enter into medicine. In the future I would like to work with professionals in different fields such as Law to reach even more students. If you are in another profession or indeed a doctor or medical student feel free to get in touch-perhaps we can work together!
Dr. Patrice Baptiste