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News > Career Paths > A career in medicine

A career in medicine

Ziyad successfully graduated as a doctor during the pandemic. Having always wanted to be a doctor, he had a challenging start and is a wonderful example of how perseverance can pay dividends.
Ziyad Azam Class of 2014
Ziyad Azam Class of 2014

Having missed an offer six years ago at his first choice university, Ziyad is now working as a Foundation Year 1 doctor in that same university hospital, demonstrating how perseverance really can pay off.  Many congratulations Ziyad and thanks for sharing the following update.

Ziyad’s news - May 2021

Well, before I start, I must say what a great honour and pleasure it is to be able to contribute to this site. I hold my seven years at Adams as some of my greatest and most memorable and I’m incredibly grateful to be able to share a bit of my story with you all.

I’m currently a junior doctor working in the West Midlands, having left Adams in 2014 and graduated (virtually!) from the University of Liverpool in 2020. My career interests lie in medical education whilst outside the workplace, I thoroughly enjoy sports, food and taking the odd photo here and there.

A lot of people from a very young age dream of becoming a doctor but, truth be told, I only decided that medicine was for me in my early teens. Seeing my dad dedicate much of his life to his patients, whilst my mom chose to spend more time at home with us, made me question whether I could make the same sacrifice. But I realised that my faith has always been one of strong principles, and that this ‘sacrifice’ was more of a duty than anything else.

My GCSEs weren’t outstanding but were good enough for me to pursue medicine. I focused more on extra-curricular activities like volunteering, playing multiple sports and completing the Duke of Edinburgh awards, amongst other things.

My first year of A-levels ended with ‘good enough’ grades. I studied hard for my UKCAT exam whilst working tirelessly with dozens of people to perfect my personal statement. The hard work paid off when I finally got an offer from my first-choice university. But results day came and didn’t go as planned as I had missed my offer. But I realised that this could just be a detour and nothing more than that.  I returned to Adams over the next academic year to give my grades the little shove that was needed.

I kept my gap year jam-packed to make the most of my time. I worked in a local pharmacy briefly whilst I dabbled in medical research at the University of Manchester and even managed to present a poster on depression at a conference. The University of Liverpool invited me for an interview, which was a huge relief. It went swimmingly and  they offered me a place to study medicine in September. Roughly 1 in 3 interviewees were given offers so this was a huge breakthrough. I soon finished my exams and spent my summer in the United States.

Again, the results were not what I needed as I was less than 1% off from achieving my dream. My practical exam let me down, which probably made it even more infuriating. I sent off a remark with not much hope and actually changed my course. My remark dropped slightly and I had accepted that medicine was just not written for me. I scored almost 95% in my other paper and only thought to remark it until after I had booked my accommodation. I didn’t have any hope but my dad suggested there was no harm in doing so.

Almost two weeks after results day, I got the incredible news that my remark had gone up enough to meet my medicine offer. I was half-asleep when Adams had called but I remember it all so well. It felt like it came out of nowhere. The confirmation process took a couple of days but the Liverpool admissions team soon informed me that I had been accepted to study medicine, starting in just four weeks. I have that email pinned to the top of my inbox even to this day.

My five years of university were so fun. I was incredibly fortunate to have a great circle of friends whom I lived with for four years. We studied together, travelled together, passed together and often failed together.

COVID-19 arrived at our doorstep towards the end of my university journey. My university responded immediately; within two weeks, we were employed as “sub foundation doctors’ in local trusts to help ease the burden of the pandemic on our junior doctors. I spent two months looking after COVID positive surgical patients at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, including a month of Ramadan where I was fasting 15 hours a day. The overall experience was challenging but incredibly rewarding; all healthcare workers and students signed up to help people and it was nothing short of our duty to step up.

I graduated a few weeks later in June 2020 over Zoom and six weeks later, I started working as a junior doctor (more specifically a Foundation Year One doctor).

My first rotation was cardiology, covering roughly 75 beds in a large tertiary centre. More often that not, I was referred as “the other Dr Azam”. Working in the same department as my dad was such a very surreal experience; to call him my role model would not do justice to how much I look up to him. He lucked out too with the chauffeuring to work and coffee deliveries to his office!

I found myself treating COVID positive patients once again as we had a dedicated cardiology ward for them. Within a few weeks, I tested positive myself. I thankfully recovered and returned to work to start my surgical rotation in December.

In mid-January, all 18 surgical FY1 doctors were redeployed to ITU (intensive therapy unit, also known as critical care). Capacity had reached about 180% as we took patients in from London and Birmingham in an effort to reduce their second wave workload. Our role was to support the nursing staff in treating COVID patients, most of whom were intubated and ventilated. The ITU team were so supportive and appreciative of our redeployment but it was their relentlessness that was truly inspirational.

The redeployment was tough. Us FY1s often discussed the sick patients under our care and it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear of a patient passing that you looked after previously. Thankfully, most of our patients survived; I can still
remember hearing one of them speak for the first time in weeks as she had her tracheostomy removed. It genuinely was such a simple yet beautiful moment. 

My surgery rotation finished at the end of March with much sadness. I am currently sat in the doctor’s office at my psychiatric hospital, my second home until August.

My journey really taught me that there is no such thing as failure. There are only ever two things: blessings or lessons. I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a career that is dedicated to others and I hope I can continue to serve people to the best of my ability.

If anyone has any questions about university or medicine or life as a junior doctor, please do reach out, I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

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