Valuable insights into the world of Medicine through work experience
We recently caught up with Yuya Hayashi who is currently studying one-year intensive A-levels at Kings Brighton. Yuya is British/Japanese and has lived in both countries. He recently returned to the UK to prepare his application to leading UK Medical Schools.
As part of his preparation Kings assisted him to identify relevant opportunities for medical work experience. We were delighted to hear about his incredible experience, which included being present at the birth of a baby!
Hi Yuya. What are you studying here in Kings Brighton?
I came to the UK about six months ago and I am studying the intensive one-year A-level course. I'm studying Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry.
As it is intensive, it's not easy to deal with all of the tests and learn, but I think I'm handling it and I am now preparing for my final A-level exams.
Are you planning to go to university next year?
Yes I hope so. I haven't decided yet whether I should take a gap year or go to university this year, but I want to challenge myself in the UK.
What are you hoping to study?
Well, when I came to the UK I had a strong vision of studying Medicine, but after this six months’ experience I began for the first time in my life to ask whether it is truly my dream to become a doctor and study medicine.
I think I found my answer through doing work experience at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital.
Did Kings help you arrange this work experience placement?
Oh yes, very much so. The Enrichment Coordinator John Murphy introduced me to this place and at first I wasn't sure if I could work there, or what it was going to be, but after I finished the work placement I felt happy and satisfied.
What did you have to do to get this work experience?
First, I went into the hospital website and clicked on the page about volunteering and work experience. There are many departments where you can gain work experience and I wanted to specify Paediatrics.
Unfortunately, there wasn't a Paediatrics department but there was Neonatology department. I applied and got in online. It's not as formal or long as the UCAS personal statement but you have to write why you want to volunteer. It wasn’t that hard to do the application process, you just follow the instructions. I got help from the school too.
How long was the placement?
It was for three days. They arranged it to start on 25th March. I was hoping it would start at 9.00am but they asked me to go there for 8.00 am and change into scrubs, and I finished at 5.00pm. I got used to the early starts!
What was the experience like?
Well Neonatology is a department for infants who were born before they were expected to be, so weren't fully matured.
Most infants were in incubators and I was kind of expecting that if I went to this department I could hold the babies, in a peaceful atmosphere. It's absolutely different from that. All the babies were in incubators and there were about ten or more altogether in the room, which was called Nursery 1.
In the department there are three rooms. Nursery 1 is for infants who have serious symptoms or who need extra care, while Nursery 2 is less severe and Nursery 3 is similar to normal babies — probably they are almost ready to go home. In Nursery 1 you see many nurses and duty doctors.
On the first day I remember that in Nursery 1 each incubator was surrounded by technology and machines, which were beeping every five seconds. I thought it was quite noisy and wondered if the infants can rest with this noisy atmosphere. I recognised that doctors took blood samples from the babies to check their health condition. For example, many have a high chance of having jaundice.
Did anything especially interesting happen while you were there?
Yes, one staff member introduced me to a delivery room and I was able to see a mother giving birth to her child. It was quite amazing! I was surprised when the baby came out and I saw the umbilical cord. I was expecting it would be red or pink, but it was totally blue and purple and it seemed like it was made of plastic! I couldn’t believe that the human body could produce that! I also saw this baby's father cutting the umbilical cord, which again was quite amazing. I thought it was an emotional moment.
I think working in Neonatology or the delivery suite, that’s the happiest and most enriching experience you might gain.
Another surprising thing for me was that when I imagined this delivery moment, I always thought that mothers would scream or cry out, but it wasn’t like that. The mother was calm and quiet and whilst she was in labour the doctors were laughing and joking — it was a relaxed atmosphere. I was surprised that there was music playing. I was shocked to see the blood coming out when she was giving birth though. To see other people’s blood with your own eyes was a different experience to watching movies or TV.
Having this work experience before applying to study medicine is quite an enriching experience I think. It focuses you to think about whether you are suitable or not, and what kind of doctor you want to be.
Had you expected to see an actual birth?
No, I hadn’t expected that! And I didn’t think I'd actually be shadowing junior doctors either. I also attended the big meeting which was held in the mornings at 8.30am and attended by consultants and duty doctors, nurses and x-ray experts too. There were many people talking about each infant and how their health condition has improved, what the doctors had treated so far, and what the future treatment should be.
Through this three-day experience I recognised that they are really professional and that doctors and nurses, each job, is really difficult to understand unless you are trained for a long time. It was surprising to hear that to become a consultant you need at least 10 years of being a duty doctor — that is quite a long period!
Before the work experience you weren't sure that you'd definitely like to be a doctor. Has it given you a clearer idea about your future plans?
Yes I think so. I think through this work experience I gained a wider view. I always thought that if you became a doctor you'd sit on a chair, meet with a patient and discuss the symptoms, and say what medicine is required. I thought that was the whole job, but this experience made me realise that you need to stick to the patient all the time and you need to work longer than other jobs. You need to be responsible and I thought it is really tiring and stressful work. But I think everyone would have the ability to get used to it.
I was a bit worried about whether I could handle it after doing the three days, but I remembered what one of the duty doctors told me — that she also experienced what I have, but she got used to it. She also told me about difficult times when she started the job, when a child was lost and everyone in the room, including doctors, cried, but that it’s something you do get used to and learn to deal with.
It's a hard process but in the end I really thought about this many times, about whether I should be a doctor, if I should be working in something other than medicine, but in the end I thought working in the medical field is quite challenging. To go into medical school is really competitive, but working in a hospital is much more strict and intense than getting offers from a medical school. I realised how much responsibility there is working as a doctor or nurse.
The experience widened my life perspective, my thoughts as well and afterwards I thought it is worth challenging myself for this strict and high-level environment.
What did your father say when you told him?
I think he recognised that I'd learnt so much from the experience and that I'd learnt the true picture of how things are.
Has it given you a bit more energy and enthusiasm to get back studying for your final term?
Absolutely. This experience has encouraged me to study more and also revealed that all I knew is a small world. I think I should be experiencing a lot more.
Why did you choose to study in Brighton?
When I decided to take A-levels, I chose the intensive course and it was only offered in London and Brighton. I was born in London and I already stayed there for 8 years so I was interested to stay in another place in the UK. I’d never been to Brighton in my life so I decided to come.
I also heard that Brighton is in the south of the UK, facing the seafront so it is a relaxing place. I thought it would be quite an experience to stay here. I saw the Brighton Marina from the window of the hospital and I bet infants couldn’t see it from their incubators, but as a doctor or nurse, I think when you get tired you can see the sea and it is beautiful.
I think Brighton is the best place to work and study as well.
Is the University of Sussex, in Brighton, one of your choices for university?
Yes, it is.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about your experience?
I would like to say to students who are aiming for medicine or other medical courses, I think any student who is interested should gain this type of work experience.
You won't feel awkward being alone there — you're not the only person who is learning in the hospital. Duty doctors and nurses are also learning in their daily work.
The three days were very tiring, I felt very tired, nervous and stressed, but it is worth it.