Why I'm studying medicine
This week, I return to full time education for the first time since 2001. In in the true spirit of go hard or go home, I’m about to start graduate medicine. It’s a four year degree course, and if I survive that, they’ll let me intern in hospitals. As someone who didn’t do any science subjects for my Leaving Cert, this is a huge leap for me.
The thoughts began to germinate a few years ago. I studied for a Masters’ Degree in Sport Psychology and seriously contemplated going the whole hog by doing a doctorate in the subject but something kept drawing me to medicine. I’m a nosey person. It’s probably what attracted me to journalism, but I like knowing the facts. Throughout my twenties I learnt that there was so much more than I didn’t know, rather than what I knew. I also realised that your health really is your wealth, and that I really wanted to play my part in creating a better lifestyle for myself and others. As somebody who works in the psychological field, working with athletes, business people and people just like you and me, I soon cottoned on to the fact so many illnesses and ailments are caused by stress, anxiety and lifestyle factors like lack of exercise or what we eat. All too often, for various reasons, people are prescribed pills to try to treat the symptoms of their illnesses, not the root cause. Sometimes, the drugs do work and prescriptions are absolutely necessary, and I hope that someday I can be the person who does the prescribing.
I am passionate about the fact though, that a lot of our health comes from how we live, from what we eat to how we sleep to how we move and how we deal with stress. No doctor is perfect and I certainly won’t be either, but I want to bring what I already know from working within sport and exercise psychology, my Pilates instructor qualification and what I’ve learnt from a career that has often been challenging, to my study. I’m not going to reel off the stats here. We know that the world is facing an obesity epidemic, and with that comes things like heart disease, stroke, cancers and diabetes to name but a few. It also greatly increases the risk of depression. All these conditions are often rooted in how we live, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if we look after ourselves a bit more, we could dramatically reduce our risks, and even prevent some ills.
A pill won’t cure us either. It’s only part of the solution. Things need to change, starting with government policies, public health initiatives and our own attitudes to health and well-being. I’m aware that this sounds very idealistic, but I’m determined that the burdens of study and ultimately working within the HSE won’t derail my ethos of lifestyle medicine. I’m also slightly terrified by the long road ahead of me, but every day, I coach clients to face their fears and help them find ways to deal with whatever comes at them, so it’s time I took my own advice.