Motivational Monday: Experimental Psychologist turned Medic
Our latest Motivational Monday is with medical student Natalia Abramovich, now in her first year of medical school, despite not gaining a place first time around.
This is Natalia’s second degree, having achieved first class honours in Experimental Psychology from Bristol University in 2018. While at South Hampstead, Natalia studied for A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, English and Politics. “South Hampstead emphasised the importance of having broad interests which is the reason why a took a mixture of science and art subjects,” Natalia says. “More importantly, studying a range of subjects is an excellent grounding for my medical training. Medicine is not purely a science, as patients do not always follow a specific pattern. Instead, medicine considers individual, cultural, social and environmental differences which can drastically alter the state of being, and a science textbook alone cannot teach that,” she adds.
When Natalia left school in 2014, she decided to take a Gap year and spent part of it working as a health care assistant at the Homerton Hospital in East London. “I came across many patients with extensive mental health needs and became aware of the importance of a thoughtful, considered and research-based approach towards mental health,” she says. However, most importantly, the experience reaffirmed Natalia’s desire to pursue a career in a healthcare setting.
She applied for a Psychology degree, despite not previously studying Psychology for A Level. “It was a real change of direction for me but it was a subject that I had taken a real interest in due to my gap year work,” said Natalia. “I also hoped to keep my options open and perhaps apply for medicine as a post-graduate, if I was still interested.” Natalia had applied first time round for medicine but sadly received four rejections without an interview.
During Natalia’s final year at Bristol University, she was looking into careers in Clinical Psychology. “I also began to think about the relationship between mind and body and became interested in disorders of the body – not just restricted to mental health and the brain,” she says. This naturally sparked her interest in medicine again and, with some trepidation, Natalia once more applied for medical school. “I was almost certain I would not get a place but, to my surprise, I received offers from Queen Mary’s AND Kings College London,” she exclaimed.
Four months into her course at Barts, part of Queen Mary University of London, Natalia is excited about having clinical exposure so early on and is keen to combine the knowledge of her Psychology degree with her medical studies. “I am organising my own clinical placement for two weeks in March and have arranged to shadow a Psychiatrist who works in a community mental health trust in East London, specialising in adult psychiatric disorders,” she says.
Whenever she has contact with patients, Natalia is constantly reminded of how challenging and fulfilling working in the medical world can be, and grateful that she preserved with this career choice. “At this stage it is difficult to know what type of medicine I’ll pursue as I am so early on in my career. However, with my background in Psychology, I am keen to work in Psychiatry or as a GP,” she says.
Natalia’s advice to current South Hampstead students is to be resilient: “Just because a door has seemingly closed, that is unlikely to be the case. There are alternative paths with rich experiences along the way that will either lead you to what you originally wanted to pursue or may in fact open your eyes to something exciting you had never previously considered.”