My name is Aimée Schilder, and I am a Year 11 student at The Hertfordshire and Essex High School & Science College. I have completed my first year of being a Medic Mentor Student Ambassador, and have attended 3 Medical Leadership Programme conferences this academic year.

On 24th November 2019, I attended my first Medic Mentor Student Ambassador conference at the Royal Docks in London for a teaching day on medical leadership and presentation skills. Throughout the course of the day, we presented pre-prepared speeches, worked together in groups to deliver a research presentation on a medical theme and were educated on presentation and leadership skills. Beforehand, I was apprehensive: I had never attended a medical conference previously and was unsure of what to expect. However, on the day, I realised that I could happily and effectively connect with my peers, despite all being from diverse backgrounds, as we were all like-minded, had similar interests and were all working towards the same goal: the pursuit of a medical career. I enjoyed delivering my speech and working in a group to construct a presentation on the issue of vaccination. Furthermore, receiving personal feedback from participating peers, medical students and doctors allowed me to understand my strengths and weaknesses in order to improve and grow my confidence. This conference helped me to focus on and develop vital transferable soft skills needed for medicine, such as teamwork, leadership and communication, which I have been able to put into practice both in later Medical Leadership Programme conferences, and outside Medic Mentor, in school and work experience settings.

On 2nd February 2020, I attended my second Medic Mentor Student Ambassador conference at the Royal Docks in London for a teaching day on medical societies, debates, using Medic Mentor study guides and Problem-Based Learning. Throughout the course of the day, we worked in groups to develop problem-based learning, to debate and discuss ethical issues and current affairs, before presenting our findings to the rest of the students and running a question and answer session. This allowed me, not only to use the transferable skills developed on my first Student Ambassador conference, but also to develop further skills, such as empathy, open-mindedness, the ability to think on the spot and reflect on my knowledge to share information with others. By being more comfortable in my surroundings and familiar with the format, having attended this conference once before, it provided me with the confidence to push myself further, to interact more and to take a more active leadership role in my group.

On 26th to 31st May 2020, I took part in the Medic Mentor COVID-19 Innovation Programme, designed for the Student Ambassadors, in which I carried out a research project on the subject of COVID-19 testing with a group of people whom I had never met before. As this was completed in lockdown, all group interaction was virtual: something I had never done before, which posed significant challenges. Non face-to-face communication was difficult, as all non-verbal interaction is completely lost, coupled with the fact that my team members were complete strangers to me. However, by the end of the course, I had improved my organisation, adaptability, teamwork, communication and virtual networking skills: all transferable characteristics increasingly needed for the future of healthcare. Furthermore, I felt that I had a unique bond with my project team and had struck a friendship with people from all over the UK, despite not even knowing their faces! The process of researching, carving up roles, team managing, delegating, fusing ideas, constructing scientific posters and presenting through virtual media was an extremely significant learning curve for me, and one which I feel has had a profound impact on shaping and developing my communication skills. Our team presentation being shortlisted to the final 6 (out of around 40 teams) and exhibited in the National Conference was a real surprise, and made me realise how gratifying and rewarding the whole experience truly was. It gave me the confidence to release any inhibitions or doubts and to contribute and interact over virtual platforms. I challenged myself by being able to take a lead in responding to “on the spot” questions regarding the content of our poster, which included being able to link it to my wider subject and contextual knowledge, in front of some 300 delegates. I even won the prize for the best question asked in the National Conference at the end of the programme. The programme truly enhanced my public speaking and oratory skills, which will stand me in good stead when it comes to medical admissions and holding my nerve in demanding interview situations.

My involvement with Medic Mentor has not been limited to the Medical Leadership Programme. I entered the most recent National Essay Competition, discussing the need for the continuing study of pathogens, and was published in the Medic Mentor Magazine for my article on the ethics of the NHS prescription of medical cannabis. These projects allowed me to delve deeply into fascinating branches of medicine, fuelling my passion further. It also allowed me to carry out wider reading, critical appraisal, evaluation and collating sources: a vital skill for medical students and for health practitioners, but also enhancing my problem solving, critical analysis, holistic approach to tasks and thinking outside the box. This in-depth essay writing has also enabled me to contemplate complex moral and ethical issues, as well as enhancing my pure medical and anatomical knowledge.

I have also been an active member of the Medic Mentor COVID-19 Mission, working alongside other students to fundraise for the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund: demonstrating initiative and allowing volunteering despite the constraints of lockdown. As a regular participant of the Medic Mentor Virtual Medical Society, I interact with other like-minded students and share information, tips, knowhow, resources and advice with my peers (for instance, I have made numerous recommendations of medical programmes on BBC Four, which I know have been well received). Ultimately, medicine is a journey of continuous learning and teamwork, and this platform allows me to develop these skills and ingrain these fundamental values before even starting my career. Thanks to this invaluable network of fellow students and doctors, I feel very well-placed to be kept in the loop to be able to pick up on opportunities for learning and for acquiring relevant experience as they arise. For medicine, the key to success is, undoubtedly, preparedness and knowledge, and I feel that the Medic Mentor family has been invaluable in opening my eyes, empowering me with information and ensuring that I am always one step ahead in my medical journey.

Alongside my work with Medic Mentor I am the First Violinist in the county orchestra, The Essex Youth Orchestra: the epitome of teamwork, non-verbal communication, adaptability, collaboration, sensitivity and other transferable skills – individual specialists uniting to create the best possible output in a harmonious, collective endeavour. Here I am with other Grade 8+/diploma standard musicians playing at the Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden, Essex. The same is essential between all professions in the multi-disciplinary team in a healthcare setting.

Throughout this academic year, my involvement with Medic Mentor, particularly the Student Ambassador Programme, has developed and moulded me most as a prospective doctor through providing the opportunity to push myself outside my comfort zone. By empowering me to challenge myself, I quickly learn to adapt, communicate, empathise, network, grow my confidence and build the resilience required to meet the pressure and demands of the next generation of doctors. Just over a year ago (March 2019), I attended my first Medic Mentor event (the introductory National Healthcare Weekend) as a Year 10 student. I look back now and can appreciate just how much of a revelation that experience really was. I am quite staggered at the exponential rate at which I have acquired knowledge, insights, knowhow and personal mentoring about the medical profession in this short space of time thanks to my association with Medic Mentor and its Medical Leadership Programme.

Written By Aimée Schilder