A third year medical student at Queen Mary University of London has reached the final 12 of the Elsevier ClinicalKey Global Challenge.
Maria Ahmad, who was born and raised in London, will take on 11 other medical students from around the globe during the three-day final here in the capital this week.
She says: “I’m really excited for the final round and can’t believe it starts in a few days. I’m looking forward to meeting and working with my fellow finalists very soon. As much as I’d love to go abroad, I’m really pleased the final is in London. It's a beautiful city that’s close to my heart, having worked, studied and lived here my whole life. I can’t wait to show the other finalists what an amazing city London is and how lucky I am to be studying here.”
Maria saw off more than 1,000 other medical students through four rounds of questions online. Each round was made up of 25 questions that the students had just 25 minutes to answer.
However, it was the semi-final, Maria says, which proved the biggest challenge – and not necessarily because of the subject matter.
“We had to create a short video on our thoughts and experiences about leadership in medicine. This was a challenge because I had never before created, filmed or edited a video and had no idea where to begin. My lack of knowledge in this area meant that at times it was frustrating trying to film and edit the video.
“This was made more difficult by only having three days to complete the challenge while balancing my other commitments, and also having to convey my thoughts and ideas in just three minutes. I not only learnt some simple video editing skills but was able to reflect on the importance of persevering with a difficult task and learning from it.”
The competition and her medical studies are the latest steps on a long path towards becoming a doctor that began when she sat at her sister’s hospital bedside as clinicians diagnosed and treated a rare medical condition.
“I spent so much time in hospital and was inspired by the incredible compassion, impressive attention to detail and teamwork of the doctors in treating my sister holistically and displaying honesty and integrity throughout, even when facing uncertainty in the diagnosis. Despite the challenges of medicine, my work experience confirmed my enthusiasm for pursuing it. I started medical school and since then have never looked back.
“I am so grateful to the continued support of my family, friends and all the staff that have taught and encouraged me and could not have got this far without them. It all still feels like a dream.”
That’s why, when asked by the organisers what single piece of advice she would give to anyone just starting out at medical school, she replied: “Take every possible opportunity you are offered. Get involved with as many societies, organisations, projects, jobs, teaching and research opportunities as you can. Just by taking opportunities I have had some of the best experiences of my life and met some amazing people. If you never try, you never know.”
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