My name is Fatma-Zahra Hassan, I am in Year 11 and I currently attend Leicester High School for Girls. Being a member of the Medical Leadership Programme for the past academic year has honestly been such an impactful experience, for myself as a student, teenager and prospective medical applicant.

Attending the National Healthcare Weekend after acceptance to the Programme spurred me on to start and lead my school’s medical society, which began with myself speaking in the first assembly of the term. The confidence amassed allowed myself to project and portray my passion for the Society, and our first meeting with around 20 girls was a success. Sessions henceforth discussed: application advice amassed; specific subjects and specialties of interest to the Society; key speakers including a second-year medical student, a cardiothoracic surgeon and OB/GYN doctor; and plenty of medical ethics debates to familiarise ourselves with topical issues.

Furthermore, the first meeting of Student Ambassadors of the year in Birmingham was a fantastic opportunity to network, and I made friends who I’m still in touch with to this day, and the critical skills developed through the confidence building exercises and presentation skills, as well as the feedback received by the Mentors was truly unmatched, and are essential to any good clinician. By meeting other like-minded students, I was able to push myself further, learning from those elder and more experienced. I even adopted a few ideas to implement into my own Society, such as individual presentations by students on a topic of interest to further their own presentation skills and others’ critical thinking skills, and an overall gaining of knowledge in multiple areas of interest which would prove useful further up the road in the medical application. Some examples include artificial intelligence in medicine and the history of the NHS.

This experience could only perhaps be matched with the COVID-19 Innovation Programme, where us student ambassadors virtually worked together to investigate one of the many clinical challenges that COVID-19 is posing to our NHS, as well as developing key qualities seen in all good healthcare professionals, such as critical analysis skills from evaluating sources, applying ethical principles to real life scenarios and innovating solutions. Moreover, this was first venture into scientific research, and through not winning the competition, I could evaluate and discover how I could have made my citations clearer, poster more engaging, and ideas more coherent. I’m currently applying to the Medical Awards Programme, where I hope to further my research competence through my avid interest in medical literature, as well as looking forward to applying to the Committee of the Virtual Medical Society in August, where I can enhance and challenge my leadership experience. Indeed, I still have a lot to learn, for instance, how to write a truly good reflection, and I look forward to continuing with the Medical Leadership Programme in year 12 to further myself and more importantly, to help more people in my school’s society, as well as my new sixth form.

Written by Fatma-Zahra Hassan