Studying medicine can be challenging, rewarding, demanding and time consuming, but it also provides you with the unique opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives. In this edition of Prospects we speak to Vinay Menon, a 6th year medicine student who's managed to fit quite a lot in to his time at UWA!
Why did you choose to study medicine at UWA?
My reasons keep changing! I first sort of stumbled into medicine as a career when I was 17 and had to decide what to do after school - I knew science interested me and sometime (in the distant future!) I wanted to make a difference for people.
I've done a lot of volunteer work in my course- working with HIV orphans and leprosy patients in rural India when I was in third year, and in a youth health education program in Istanbul. From these experiences I started to realise that I was learning skills that could make a difference. I've always loved the patient side of things- being there for people when they are struggling is humbling and inspiring.
What do you like about the course?
I love how practical medicine is- especially fourth year onwards. I really enjoy the clinical rotations because you spend lots of time with patients. For example, I spent twelve hours with a patient in labour and her family during my Obstetrics and Gynaecology rotation!
What kinds of opportunities have you taken part in during your studies?
There are some pretty awesome opportunities for students studying medicine at UWA. I completed a two week rotation with the Royal Flying Doctors! That was a lot of fun, and I got to really get some practical procedure experience- aviation medicine is pretty exciting.
I have also spent six weeks at a small hospital in Tanzania, East Africa, followed by some time volunteering at a refugee camp there. At the camp there were 49,000 refugees and only three qualified doctors, so I had a lot of responsibilities including running three paediatric wards almost unsupervised. I treated conditions such as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and meningitis. I couldn't have done any of this stuff without the skills I learned in Med school.
Do you have any advice for people interested in studying medicine at UWA?
Try volunteering! You'll learn a lot, you'll find out if you are passionate about serving the vulnerable (you will be, it's awesome!) and you'll be much better prepared for medicine. Also - go for it, it's pretty amazing.
What are your plans for the future?
They change all the time! I know I am passionate about developing world issues, but I am becoming increasingly aware of the major problems we face at home in Australia - the health gap for Aboriginal Australians, increasing homelessness in Australia, refugee issues, etc. I have been involved with Red Cross Australia for a few years now and I'm proud of what we've achieved. I feel lucky to be in a position where I can raise awareness about what Red Cross is doing, and all the work we in Australia still have to do about our human rights issues.
Late last year, Vinay was awarded the prestigious Young People's Human Rights Medal by the Australian Human Rights Commission, for his work as the National Youth representative for the Red Cross. To listen to his awards speech, visit https://www.humanrights.gov.au/about/hr_awards/2009.html