The benefits of taking a year out
Joanna Cook explains how her year out in Zimbabwe rekindled her enthusiasm for medicine
It was about this time two years ago, when I was an intercalated student, that I began to think that medicine was not for me. I have always been a bit of an idealist and the presence of these doubts perhaps bothered me more than their actual, rather vague, content. Perhaps it was a fear of commitment.
I found a leaflet on a university notice board calling for volunteers to work in “youth development” in rural Africa and I made an appointment to see my dean. The medical school was surprisingly sympathetic and I was given permission to defer my entry into the clinical school for one year. This gave me some time to think about my reasons for finishing the course and also the opportunity to broaden my horizons a bit--to go and live and