A summary of my keynote talks during Autumn 2016
A summary of my keynote talks during Autumn 2016
A summary of my work with the National Citizens Service (NCS) Programme.
Why are Black people often portrayed in a negative light by the mainstream media? Why is our history often forgotten? We need to ensure that we embrace our culture and history, ensure it lives on and that we set and exhibit positive examples of ourselves for the world to see.
This Autumn I launched the 'Success in Applying to Medical School' course as part of a series of three courses currently offered by my company DreamSmartTutors.
The first course was in partnership with The Holy Family Catholic School, my old comprehensive school where I have taken up the post of Foundation Governor. We had a good number of students who traveled from as far as West and South London just to attend the course. The students were engaged, enthusiastic and keen to learn. They all enjoyed the course fully and also provided very useful feedback for how we could improve the course to make it even better for the next set of students.
The second course was held at Caterham High School in Ilford. Again, there were a good number of students who signed up to attend. This group again all stated that they enjoyed the course and would highly recommend it to other students who were looking to apply to medicine and know more about life and a career as a doctor.
For more information about the course and what students said please visit the course page. A video of the day will be coming soon!
We are currently working in partnership with a number of other organisations and schools to deliver more courses in the new year so watch this space!
There are a plethora of ethnicities described by the term BAME. However, with regards to higher education it is crucial to distinguish which groups, if any are participating less well than others.
Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show that there were 4% of United Kingdom (UK) domiciled Black (African, Caribbean and Other) students studying medicine and dentistry in 2014/2015, (including postgraduate and undergraduate students) in comparison to 3.0% of the UK population being classified as ‘Black’. With regards to the Asian population, 27.8% of Asian students were studying medicine and dentistry in the same year in comparison to just 7% of the UK population being classified as ‘Asian’. Perhaps this over-representation of more ethnic minorities choosing medicine (dentistry and law) represents their feelings about the possible discrimination when applying for jobs.
However, when we look at the BAME community individually, we see that there are a number of stark differences. When the term ‘Black’ is broken down into the various sub-groups we see that there were 0.5% of Black Caribbean, 3.4% of Black African and 0.1% of Black ‘other’ students studying medicine and dentistry that year. According to the most recent 2011 Census there were 3.0% of Black African and Caribbean people in the UK, with 1.7% categorized as Black African. Therefore, Black Caribbean students are significantly under-represented in Medicine and Dentistry. When the term ‘Asian’ is deconstructed we see that 13.2 students studying medicine and dentistry were of Indian descent in comparison to 5.8% of Pakistani descent. This is despite there being similar numbers of these groups within the UK population. Similarly, 1.3% of Bangladeshi and 2.6% of Chinese UK domiciled students studied medicine and dentistry that year despite there being similar numbers of these two sub-groups within the UK population. There are several reasons for these differences, from socio-economic factors to culture and parenting.
There were 6.6% of students classified as ‘other’ ethnicity which includes those of mixed ethnicities. Again, as a whole there is an over-representation when compared to the UK population but it is important to recognise once again that there are many ethnicities within this group so some may be performing less well than others.
When we look at the number of doctors that are classified as BME origin we observe similar patterns. In fact, one could argue that you need over-representation based on the fact that BME medical students perform less well than their white counterparts and there are less BAME professionals in the upper echelons of certain professions including medicine.
Therefore, for an improvement generalisations should not made across all the BAME sub-groups. The term BAME may be unhelpful when addressing the issues facing the various BAME communities in education and in particular, higher education.
There needs to be a collective effort if we are to help more students. A good start is by continuing to recognise that there are many different ethnicities within the BAME umbrella term and that everyone may not be performing to the same level. It is imperative that we are not complacent, over- rather than under-representation is positive and should be maintained. Moreover, instead of complaining about the disparity, we should be finding solutions, but not just for one group, for all groups of students requiring support and at all levels within education.
One of the solutions is the right guidance and ongoing support for students. At DreamSmartTutors we not only aim to provide students with the crucial support they need but we educate them about what doctors do so that they can make their own decision based on all the facts presented. We deliver high quality one day courses where students can meet doctors and medical students. We also provide one-to-one tuition and mentoring with medical students and I personally tutor and mentor students too which helps give them an insight to the medical school curriculum and working as a doctor.
Source of featured image.
For a year and a half I have written numerous articles as a freelance writer. Since medicine is my first passion the bulk of my articles are medically related, however I do write non-medical articles and creatively too. I have also written for The Canary News website as a Health and Wellness writer and currently I contribute to the Medic Footprints website.
Have a look at a number of my articles below:
The British Medical Association (BMA) News- VOICEBOX
I am currently taking a year out of my medical training and during 2015, (whilst still in training) I wrote an article which outlines a number of options available to doctors who are undecided about which career path to choose. During February 2016 I wrote another article which discussed choosing General Practice (GP) as a career path.
The Medical Protection Society (MPS)
I previously worked in a Surgical High Dependency Unit (HDU). It was a great experience even though it could become very busy at times. I wrote an article for the MPS entitled F2 in the Surgical HDU which outlines what could be a 'typical day' in the HDU.
I then wrote another article for the MPS about Capacity and Consent. In clinca practice things can go wrong but it is important to inform patients of mistakes and to move forward with the appropriate management. Assessing mental capacity may need to be done when a patient's capacity comes into question. It is important to work with the patient's family throughout the decision making process.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) Blogs
Mental health is an issue that is not often talked about among medics. There is an associated stigma which prevents doctors and even medical students seeking help. I have written three separate articles about mental health among the medical profession. The first article discusses Mental Health Issues among Medical Students with the second article a follow up to this entitled Exploring Doctors' Mental Health. They can be found on the BMJ blogs website. (For the third article please see below)
I have have also written 'What is the Future of the NHS?',this is about the current situation the NHS is in- the junior doctors' contract, in addition to a number of GPs explaining how overworked they are. My article also comments on the decline in the amount of foundation doctors applying for specialty training, the drop in university applications to medical school and the drop in the amount of students who view medicine as an attractive career.
Another article I have written for the BMJ is about the lack of disadvantaged students studying at medical school. It is available online and in print. I received a lot of positive feedback from doctors who read the article and who could relate to my story.
Support For Doctors
The third article- Mental Health among Doctors can be found on the Support for Doctors website and looks at factors as to why doctors suffer with mental health issues. There are resources provided at the end of the articles for those who are looking for help, (or for interest).
Often I go to schools and speak to students about my career path as a doctor but I also make sure I include useful career (and life) advice for prospective medical students in addition to students who are not considering medicine or who actually have no idea about what they would like to study or area they want to work in.
I have compiled a few tips to help anyone, but in particular students decide what career might be for them. Please send feedback via the email address on the home page to let me know if it is useful!
The last few weeks of inspirational events.
As always I've been working with more schools within and around Waltham Forest. I have continued to arrange more career talks as well as participating in a 'Professional Interview Day' at Walthamstow School for Girls.
I have met with very enthusiastic students who are keen to be doctors. However, from what I have seen these students have a lot of work to do and I aim to help as much as possible. But, I cannot do it alone.
I have often found it difficult to work with a number of schools due to lack of engagement with my services. Emails, phone calls and messages have not been returned. I am offering a very specialist service for students who may not have any doctors in their family or may be the first generation in their family that has the opportunity to go to university. I am met with such obstacles and why? Teachers and careers advisers who do not seize opportunities such as these means that the students are losing out on a valuable contact- me. I can offer the students so much help and support but the 'gatekeepers' are not letting me through and it is a shame.
I have seen very few students so far who demonstrate both the qualifications AND the additional skills, qualities and extra-curricular activities to be accepted into top medical schools. A lot of schools do encourage students to pursue 'top' professions and I must say I have been impressed by a number of students who partake in additional activities run by the schools for example- The Duke of Edinburgh Award', 'The Jack Petchy Speak Out Challenge', 'The Lionheart Challenge' in addition to sporting and musical schemes and events. This is invaluable for the students as they are developing skills and experience that will put them in good stead for their future careers. When I was at school there was very little going on but I made the best out of the situation and did what I could in school, (librarian, prefect etc) and outside of it.
The other issue I have found is that a lot of capable students have little confidence in themselves or their abilities. They doubt themselves constantly. It is heartbreaking to see that these students who have such enthusiasm, intelligence and potential believe that they are not good or clever enough. I was not very confident at school even though I was producing amazing work and passing all my exams to a high standard. The environment has a lot to do with it and you really notice the comparison with students in independent schools.
I would love to help these students increase their chances of getting into medicine or any career but I need help from the students themselves, the parents and the teachers. More students from ethnically diverse backgrounds are needed in top professions but there needs to be a unity and an investment in these bright kids. More needs to be done from those in top professions, especially those who succeeded from local comprehensive schools. There just isn't enough. If I can contribute in changing the status quo just a little bit I will be pleased.
Featured image via Penoyre&Prasad
I am a strong believer in 'giving back' to the community. I wrote an article on the Black History Month website entitled I Aim to Inspire which gave an insight into my journey to becoming a doctor. It also included the issue that sometimes people do not help each other and that is across all races. There are many reasons for this; of course time plays a big part but another reason is that people simply do not care or do not want to help others who are trying to get to where they are. I am far from that type of person. Ever since I left my comprehensive school and embarked on a journey to become a doctor at UCL I have always tried to help others and I mainly do this through giving up my time. I try to reach young people in particular, as I remember how I felt when I was at school and college. I would have loved it if a doctor came to my school and gave me advice and offered me mentorship. During the year 2013, when I qualified I returned to my old school and delivered a speech which I hoped would inspire and empower the students there. Towards the end of 2015 I visited the school with a number of my colleagues in order to deliver career talks to the students who are in years 10-13. The talks were 'A career in - medicine and academic medicine, accountancy, transport, law and dentistry. There was a great turnout and the feedback was very positive. We spoke to a number of the students who all expressed an interest in the above careers and seemed very positive that they could pursue their dreams at top universities.
My aim is to continue to reach out to students and anyone that needs help, inspiration and mentoring. I am currently in talks with a few schools within and around the borough in order to replicate these career talks. I have worked with Frederick Bremer school, Walthamstow School for Girls and Caterham school in Redbridge. I would be very grateful if others would consider joining my efforts or just think about how they can dedicate a small amount of time to others in the community.
I am also a director appointee at a local school which is an important albeit small contribution to the community.
Source of featured image.
It has been a while since I wrote on my blog and that is because I have been extremely busy. I will outline what has kept me so busy below!
1. I have been working on designing a number of courses for students to help them get into medical school which you can see on the home page. I launched 'DreamSmartTutors' this week so I'm working really hard on getting the name and courses out there. It is not easy! It can be quite daunting putting your idea out there when the world is full of a lot of criticism. But, there are a lot of people that have given me positive feedback and encouraged my efforts- so that is definitely something to be grateful for!
2. Continuing to write articles. I recently had a medical case report published along with an article in the BMJ that was well received. I have written for the BMJ before but it was only until I wrote this article for BMJ careers that it was actually published in the print version of the journal which is great. I received a lot of emails about my article- all positive. I have read emails from doctors who could relate to the story I told and wanted to get involved with the courses I am designing now. It is all exciting but at the same time it is a lot of work! I have also had an article published in the print version of the VOICE newspaper.
3. Poetry collection: I am roughly half way to my target but you cannot rush creativity, thus I can only write when I get inspired for it to be my best work to share with the world.
4. I have also continued to liaise with schools and I recently signed up with School Speakers which was founded by Claire Young who appeared on The Apprentice during 2008. I will also be working with a number of other organisations such as STEMNET, Inspiring the Future, and The National Careers Service.
So, there you go. I hope you enjoy reading about all that I have been up to!
I've always wanted to become a doctor and I finally achieved that dream when I graduated. I have many interests outside of medicine which include writing, playing the piano, running and volunteering.
I've always loved writing. I wanted to use this blog as a platform to share my thoughts and opinions through my articles and through my poetry. I hope whoever passes through these infinity pages gains inspiration and enjoys my work!
There is so much negativity around us and so I want to contribute to the positive in the world.
Stay focused, stay positive and dare to dream!
I really enjoy seeing positive role models and in particular positive black role models because there is often so much negativity surrounding black people in the media. But sometimes I forget that I am a positive black role model too! I was recently interviewed by the University College London (UCL) Alumni volunteering department where I was asked a series of questions about the volunteering I did when I was at UCL and the work I am doing now. It brought back a lot of memories and I remembered how much I learnt whilst volunteering. I think that my independence and communication were two of the skills that improved, as I was always going to new places and meeting different people, learning how to engage and adapt all the time.
You can read my interview here.
The second interview was with Gosbert, (who is a fellow UCL Black and Minority Ethnic(BME) committee member) for his blog- The Hustle MBA. I was really honoured that he wanted to feature me on his website. I spoke about a number of my ventures and what the word 'hustle' means to me.
Have a read here.
Last week I was excited to attend our one year anniversary event. It was great to reconnect with other members as well as connecting with new ones.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Angie Greaves who is one of the radio presenters on Magic FM and Norman Vaughan who works at British Telecoms (BT) as the BT Global Services business development manager.
As always it was an inspiring and uplifting evening. I speak to a lot of students to inspire them on their journeys but events like this often inspire me as I too need inspiring whilst on my own journey in life. I am so proud of how far we have come as a network and I hope more people join and engage with us throughout the coming years.
There were some important points raised throughout the evening:
A recurring theme among our events and discussions is the lack of confidence we often have in ourselves. Angie touched on this nicely:
No one else is going to put themselves on hold to believe in you- believe in yourself!
You have to exude confidence, look at all your achievements and believe you can do whatever it is you set your mind to. Surround yourself with positive, like minded individuals with common goals. Of course, building confidence is a process and so it is imperative to make sure you keep moving forward and reinforce positive words and messages continuously to yourself and others.
Norman explained that it was only when he went to America that he realised how good they were at networking and creating contacts.
Don't be afraid to reach out to people. Don't be shy. Don't be afraid to fail.
He said that he honestly did not care about people saying "No" to him because he would just move on to the next person who could potentially say yes to him. This could be in terms of a business idea for example. Angie reiterated this point; when people say no to you or your idea it simply opens up the way for someone else, who is right for you:
Don't be disappointed when someone says "No"
Rejection can be so hard to bounce back from but it is important you persevere and believe in your vision whatever that may be. Angie pointed to J.K Rowling- if she stopped trying to get her work out there and gave up she would almost certainly not be where she is today. You just have to keep going and develop a thick skin!!
The remainder of the evening was spent networking and sharing experiences and opinions- I thoroughly enjoyed this part too!
Overall the evening went well. I am proud to know all the committee members who continue to work hard at making the UCL BME alumni organisation a success. A special thanks to Natalie Clue, our chair who recommended our guest speakers.
I have not written a post for a while as it has been a very busy couple of months. I have wanted to write however for a long time about this particular topic- death. A few months ago I lost a very important person to me. I will not dwell on it much here for a number of reasons but I wanted to make a few points.
What upsets me a lot about death is not death itself, (because as much as we like it or not, death is apart of life and it is guaranteed) but the selfishness exhibited by those that are left behind. It is not of course always intentional but it is there. Perhaps it is the grief or the denial- we know the person is leaving, never to return again.
My first real experience of death was when my two cats passed away, (I was a lot younger when other family members passed and so I cannot say I truly felt or understood death then). I felt a great loss; the places they used to be were empty, they were not there to greet me or compete for my attention anymore. When I was studying for countless exams my cats were there to cheer me up and I remembered what a great help they were in times of sadness. It would not be until three years later I would meet with death again only this time the loss was amplified several times over.
When we are in the process of losing someone, our natural reaction is to want them to stay and not to leave us. Sometimes, we want them to stay even though we know they may be in a great deal of pain. I think the only way we will ever be able to 'deal' with the loss is if we accept, (or try to accept) that the person we love will be at peace if they pass away, (here, I am referring to someone who may be battling with a terminal illness). If the death is sudden or unexpected it may be harder to come to terms with it but we can still shift the focus from "why?" or "why did they leave me?" to "at least they are at peace now" or "maybe it was their time to go".
Death is such a sensitive topic, and often no one wants to discuss it. We are not here forever. It angers me when I see how we as humans treat one another and treat the other inhabitants of this earth and the earth itself. We only get one chance at life and we have no idea when our time will come. Instead of putting things off, do them. Instead of being bitter and twisted and staying angry at someone, be the bigger person and apologise, or try to make amends and put the past behind you. Try not to let disagreements drag on, the person you're angry at may have been someone you once cared deeply for; they could die tomorrow and how would you feel then?
Life is so short, don't waste it being angry, don't waste it wishing for the weekend to come only for it to go in the blink of an eye and you're hating Monday morning again. Do not wait to be told you are dying for you to create a 'bucket list'. Make a will, advanced statement, choose your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) while you are still of sound mind. Do not hold grudges, for it will only eat away at you and turn you into another person. Do not seek revenge, instead focus on your life and making yourself better, God, (or whatever/whoever you believe in) will sort it out.
Make your life count.
That is all.
Last month I was invited to attend the Children's Society annual debate. It was an incredibly eye opening event with a lot of important topics and issues raised. The main question to be addressed was: 'Are we failing our nation's teenagers?'
The society highlighted their Seriously Awkward campaign which highlights the need for a change in particular legislation in order to protect a number of vulnerable teenagers, (particularly 16-17 year olds) from various types of abuse, neglect and harm.
Matthew Reed- the chief executive of the Children's Society introduced the event and outlined the structure of the evening.
Edward Hall, who is the artistic director at the Hampstead Theatre, London played a few clips from the play Firebird. Without giving too much away the scenes essentially showed us how a young, vulnerable girl was 'groomed' and then exploited in a number of ways.
It was quite sad to see as this young girl appeared to have very little self-confidence and self-worth. She also appeared to lack a support network. This man preyed on her insecurities and demonstrated how easily vulnerable young people can be exploited, manipulated and abused.
The floor then opened up to the panel which comprised a number of influential people:
Chair: Hannah Azieb Pool- Journalist, curator of debates, Southbank Centre and chair of UK Feminista
Dr. Linda Papadopoulos- Chartered counselling and Health Psychologist
Georgia Gould- Cabinet member for young people and economic growth, London Borough of Camden
Naomi Shimada- Plus-size model, health body image activist and columnist for InStyle UK
Four young adults were also present- with three on the panel.
While the debate was a very complex one, it drew me to an important realisation. I have been extremely fortunate as I have been supported by my family. I would not have come as far as I have without the love and care of my parents. I stopped to think that there are so many children who do not have this. So many children in our society have never known what it is like to have one parent, or even two? They may be in care homes, with foster parents, not knowing if they will ever stop moving from place to place.
Approximately 16,500 young people are at a high risk of being exploited sexually. This is a shocking figure. Perhaps it is shocking because it is not often discussed and so we forget it exists and that it can happen. As a doctor, I undergo 'safeguarding training' for both children and adults; I am taught to look out for particular 'clues' that might raise suspicion of so called 'foul play', not just sexual but any form of abuse to children or adults. I am also aware of the correct channels I need to use if I am concerned. Nevertheless there is still not enough awareness of the abuse that anyone can face and especially young people.
One of the most important things to realise is that the person(s) exploiting these young people can appear in a number of different forms i.e. they could be a parent/guardian, peer(s) or a gang member. The young person is 'groomed' and may not be aware they are being exploited. There are a number of ways to identify sexual exploitation. For instance if a young person starts to change they way in which they behave- if they become secretive, stay out late or stop going to school. For the young person there are a number of ways they can protect themselves- be vigilant; be weary of people you do not know and trust your 'gut instinct'.
I was not raised in the richest neighbourhood; I did not grow up poor but I had enough. I did not always have access to the latest clothes/shoes but I could not ask for anything more from my parents because they provided everything I needed. There are around 3.7 million children in the country living in poverty. Nathaniel Peat- founder of the Safety Box Youth organisation raised a very valuable point in the debate. A number of the children he encountered did not have the money to afford the latest shoes so they would then be in trouble at school. These children could then be lured into gangs because they would be promised the latest material goods by the gang members/leaders who may be much older than them.
I think it is so important that we empower young people. Not listening enough was one of the points raised by one of the young adults on the panel. That is so spot on. It was not that long ago I was a teenager and felt that I was not listened to. Even as a young twenty-something year old I can often feel that way. We need to listen to these young adults who may be crying out for help in ways that we associate with 'acting up'. When a young person does not attend school or seems 'moody' ask them what is going on, take the time to listen to and value their thoughts and opinions. In medical practice a child, (16 or under) may be Gillick competent which demonstrates the different levels of maturity among children; if they are deemed to be 'Gillick competent' they do not need parental consent to make certain decisions. I think as a society we need to give young people more credit; they understand a lot more than some of us may think.
Another important point was the pressure young people felt. It was no surprise that social media had a big part to play in this. The unrealistic way people are portrayed on social media and on television can make those that do not look that way depressed and overly conscious of their bodies. This is such a complex issue and does not only affect young females but males too. There needs to be more positive role models who demonstrate that there are different body shapes and images out there so that a more realistic picture can be painted. The plus size model Naomi Shimada described how she felt during particular points in her modelling career and said that she would only recommend modelling to someone with a strong support network due to the nature of the industry and media. This is just one form of pressure that the young people have to face today. The highly sexual nature of society contributes massively to the pressure felt by young people to conform and 'fit in'.
I enjoy working with young people so much because I remember so vividly how I felt as a young person; the challenges I faced and had to overcome. I had and continue to have a fantastic support network and I do whatever I can to help those who may not. As a society we need to collectively listen to our young people who are very insightful and competent. We need to support and empower them so that they can be strong and resilient to this ever changing world we live in.
Recently I accepted a job offer at The Canary, (an online news website) which aims to counteract the largely conservative views in the media today. I am proud to be apart of a team of high quality writers who are not afraid to share their opinions and speak out on important topics. With the help of an amazing editor I was able to produce my first article this week about World Aids Day. Have a read:
Source of featured image: World Aids Day
Last week I delivered another career talk to a small group of students at Frederick Bremer school in Walthamstow. It was a pleasure of mine to be able to talk to the students about medicine. I advised them about the career and provided them with a number of tips about what would help them enter this competitive field. The careers co-ordinator wrote a short paragraph in the school newsletter detailing my visit which I wanted to share:
"Patrice came to Frederick Bremer School to speak to our Year 11 pupils about going into medicine. As Patrice is a qualified doctor, she was able to give valuable information to our pupils regarding the routes that are available to get into the field of medicine. The students were granted the opportunity to ask questions regarding the excellent profession that Patrice is currently in. It’s not often that someone in the medical field comes into a school to give a talk about a career in medicine so we were incredibly grateful to have Patrice at our school. Coming from an inner London school, Patrice is very much an inspiring young lady who is incredibly determined and that was evident through her presentation. Patrice explained to me that she believes it is important to give back to the youth of today; in the hope that they may feel empowered and encouraged to follow a career path in medicine or any other profession. She reminded the students that with hard work and a great deal of willpower, virtually anything is possible!
Thanks again Patrice, you’re awesome!"
As mentioned before I provide a number of career talks for students by myself and at times in conjunction with others. I also offer other services for students which I am happy to talk about in more depth. If any one is interested in contributing to the talks with me OR if you would like me to talk at your school please get in touch by leaving a comment on my blog or twitter page. Thanks!
This morning I was delighted to see the article I wrote for the Waltham Forest News- which is a local paper in the borough. The article details a bit about myself and how I try to inspire others in the community, especially the young people.
The Waltham Forest Guardian also published an article about my community work last month which I was pleased to see also, Doctor returns to school to 'inspire students':
I want to stress that although these articles are about my journey I still have a long way to go in terms of my own success. I remain humble and serving others is something we all should do daily. I hope these articles are a reminder of that.
I serve God through serving others.