October 2015 | Deireadh Fómhair 2015

Peter Dervan Medal for Excellence in Cancer Pathology

Tue, 20 October 15 15:22

Why did you decide to compete for the Peter Dervan Memorial Medal in 2015?

I had enjoyed the content of both the subjects (Oncology Immunopathology and Haematology & Immunosuppression) while doing them, which always makes them much easier to study and delve into a bit more. Having an interest absolutely helps you to do better in the exams. I think that the medal was another opportunity for me to explore the content even more, and focus on the details and intricacies of the subject.

How did you decide on a topic for the viva voce?

This was surprisingly difficult… I have a lot of different interests in medicine, and most pathologies are uniquely interesting in their own way. I did want to go deeper into a subject I already had a good basis in though – this, coupled with a current interest in gynaecology and women’s health, led me to focus in on cervical cancer. 

The viva voce can be a daunting experience. How did it go, were there any surprises on the day?

I didn’t know what to expect at all, having never done a viva voce before; it was definitely a baptism of fire anyway! My aim beforehand was to go in feeling confident in my preparation, which I managed to do. I think that you have to back yourself in these situations - it helps you to stay calm and assured in yourself, take a breath and think, under all of that pressure. There really is nowhere to hide in a viva. I was very happy with how I performed on the day, especially since I had relatively little experience. I don’t remember being faced with anything too surprising, but the questions were challenging – that much I did expect.

Has being awarded the medal impacted on your medicine journey in the year that has followed?

For one, I have felt a great honour in being awarded with such a prestigious medal. The medal has made some wonderful opportunities available to me, even in only these few months - I am very grateful to the Dervan family, and UCD, for all of this. It also precipitated a deeper level of thought about the content we engage with in medicine. I do think that being able to explore topics of interest in detail is very beneficial for medical students, both in an educational and a personal sense. I found preparing for the viva very rewarding, and in truth, it only added to my interest in the subject. I’ve certainly been thinking more about how I can explore this interest even further in the future.

Do you have any advice for students considering putting themselves forward for the medal this year?

Firstly, I encourage everyone who can to put themselves forward – the experience will only stand to you in future. Unsurprisingly, my primary advice would be to see it as an opportunity to explore something that you truly have an interest in. It’s probably the best acid test to check the strength of that interest, and it will not be anything of a challenge to prepare for if you are truly curious about your topic. Put yourself out there and give it your full commitment – it is an award worthy of a great effort.

Learn more about the Medal here