Two budding doctors got the good news this month that they have both won a £2,000 bursary from the Medical Specialist Group which they will receive every year for up to five years while they are at medical school.
Louis Thomas, 19, has been awarded the 2023 bursary and starts this month at Norwich Medical School, and Joseph Blake, 18, has been awarded the 2024 bursary and will start at Leicester Medical School in September next year.
Both say that it was the Taste of Medicine course run by the MSG that confirmed for them that they wanted to become doctors.
Consultant paediatrician Dr Clare Betteridge, who runs the Taste of Medicine course and was on the judging panel, said: “All five candidates we interviewed had great applications and great reasons for applying for the bursary.
“We chose to award Louis the 2023 bursary as he has shown a real commitment to studying medicine and gained invaluable experience working in the medical field. We look at several aspects when making our decision and felt that Louis was extremely deserving.
“We also chose to award the 2024 bursary to another very deserving student, Joseph Blake because when he applied for the bursary, he had the opportunity of a place this year but due to some uncertainty from the medical school, he has been offered one for next year instead. We were impressed that he’d spent a lot of time doing work experience in various institutions on the island to give him a good idea of what his future career might entail.
“We are very proud to be able to help our two exceptional candidates. I wish them all the best in their studies and hope the bursary goes some way to relieving the financial pressure of being a medical student. We hope to see them back here during their studies and even better, bringing back their expertise to Guernsey in the future.”
Louis originally applied to university to study natural sciences but when he decided he wanted to become a doctor he took a gap year to apply for medicine. After working as a healthcare assistant at the PEH last summer, he then started in a PA support role in orthopaedics at the MSG where he worked for seven months before taking four months off to travel.
He said: “As a PA support I learned so much, particularly from speaking with patients over the phone, getting insight into how they perceive their condition and offering reassurance.
“All the consultants were helpful particularly Mr Cooper and Mr Joslin. Knowing of my interest in medicine, they would talk through referrals with me, and show me interesting clinical tools such as a computer-generated 3D model of a knee.
“I can see myself gravitating to a surgical specialty. I like the balance between outpatients, ward rounds and the operating theatre. Orthopaedics is very appealing to me as I have seen how it can transform a patient’s quality of life and allow them to get back to doing what they love.
“The MSG bursary takes so much of the pressure off financially. Studying medicine at uni is particularly expensive as you need to pay for transport to placements at different hospitals, subs to medical magazine, electives in your fourth year and so on. It means I shouldn’t need to get a job to support myself through university so I can really immerse myself in my studies and enjoy the university experience.”
Joseph Blake will spend most of his gap year before going to Leicester working as a healthcare assistant at the PEH.
He said: “I’ve had my induction training and did my first shift in the Emergency Department (ED) which was really interesting. I’m a bank HCA so I’ll get the chance to gain experience working in several other departments during the year.
“I already liked the idea of being a doctor before the Taste of Medicine week in June. Seeing then how the multi-disciplinary teams work together for their patients, I knew that it was for me.
“I particularly enjoyed my time in ED, but my mum’s a midwife and I’m also interested in obstetrics and gynaecology.”
Louis and Joseph will also be able to benefit from the Guernsey Medic Network, a unique networking site launched last week to support training doctors and to improve healthcare for islanders by encouraging outstanding doctors to work in the Bailiwick.
Pictured: Left to right – Dr Clare Betteridge, Louis Thomas, Joseph Blake and MSG chief executive Jon Buckland.