Nadia Salloum, 5th Year Medical Student

Nadia’s volunteering experiences inspired her to study medicine

Tell us about your experience of getting into medicine

I was 15 when I really decided I wanted to apply for medicine. My family moved to Aberdeen from New Zealand not long after so I didn’t have long to find my feet. When I arrived, I didn’t know anything about the application process, the UKCAT or about needing to gain work experience. Luckily I had a very supportive Guidance teacher at school who gave me a heads up and directed me to useful resources to get started!
Trying to find work experience was a daunting process. I emailed several local GPs and some individual doctors in the hope that someone would let me shadow them. Although most didn’t reply, the experience I gained from those who did really helped to confirm that I was making the right choice.
Outside of school, I looked for opportunities to volunteer through Volunteer Scotland and found a club for children with additional needs. As well as being incredibly rewarding, the club was great fun and I loved going each week – so much so that I looked for something similar when I moved to Edinburgh! I also volunteered as a ‘befriender’ in the hospital’s stroke rehabilitation ward once a week.
At school I was a prefect and was involved in several clubs. I also played flute and viola in the school and city orchestras and concert bands. I tried to make the most of all the opportunities. When I found out that the hospital hosted public talks on current medical research I started attending them too.

What is being a doctor (or med student) like?

Being a medical student is wonderful! It is such an interesting and varied course. In the first two years it was predominantly lecture based and focused developing a baseline of medical knowledge to add to in clinical years. Last year I took a year out to intercalate in Biochemistry. It was a complete contrast to medicine but I really enjoyed getting to do a lab based research project and I have since become much more involved in research. I am now in my clinical years so most of the time is spent on the wards or in clinics, interacting with patients and learning plenty of new skills. No two days are the same!