Michael Conroy

Stage Five Medicine

Why did you choose to study medicine?

Medicine wasn’t something that stood out for me when I was younger and it didn’t become a realistic idea until around fifth year in school. At that stage, there was a solid group of five or six in my year who were serious about applying for it and three of us are still together in fifth year college!

My main drive to choose it came from family experiences – my mother is a doctor – and a week that I spent on the Mater Hospital’s In-Hospital Life programme in fifth year. It gave me a taste of the hectic pace in university hospitals and the massive variety of things that go on there, and that more-or-less sealed it for me.

What made you choose UCD?

The things that swayed my decision as a 17 year old aren’t quite the same things that would influence me now, five years later, but I’d still choose the same place. Back then, the choice between universities was a fairly easy one for me – while I would have been happy to go almost anywhere as long as I got the chance to do medicine, UCD was five minutes away from my house and almost all my friends were going!

Now though, I’m glad to be attached to St. Vincent’s, which is a great hospital for teaching, and to have opportunities for elective placements with UCD graduates around the globe.

What has been the most interesting part of the course so far?

I just finished my rotation in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which involved a six-week stint in hospitals in Holles Street and the Coombe, and it was an experience that really grabbed everyone’s attention from start to finish.Along with the traditional lecture and tutorial teaching, I assisted in clinics, scrubbed in for Caesarean Sections and spent five nights on the Coombe’s delivery ward, helping the team with childbirths every night.

It was an intense, but genuinely interesting, few weeks.

What has been the most challenging part of the course so far?

Staying up until 4am studying for my neuroscience exam back in 2nd year...

What advice would you give to prospective students who are thinking of taking the course?

Make sure to talk to someone who is actually doing the course or has just finished it, as well as a doctor who may have left university a long time ago. College is about more than studying and you need to find out what it’s like to study medicine from someone of your own generation.

The workload gets heavier each year as you progress, and you’ll go steadily from having the stereotypical undergraduate lifestyle at the beginning - with parties, concerts and weekend trips - to something approaching a working life, with rigid hours, serious responsibilities and obligations, and weekends dedicated to study.

All this will happen while studying for the same degree, so you need to be sure about what you’re getting into. But if you genuinely want to do medicine, then this should be no hindrance and you’ll love (almost) every minute.

What do you hope to do, or in which area would you like to specialise after graduation?

I’m taking a clinical elective in Infectious Disease this summer, and I have something of a hope to keep that up after graduation. It’s an area that makes a big difference both in Ireland and the rest of the world, and it seems to have a good mix of dealing with patients and research opportunities.