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Thinking ahead

It’s the second term of my second year and we are about to begin symptoms-focused learning, with a view to next year’s clinical course. I’m excited, and a little apprehensive, about taking another step up and (hopefully) starting to draw connections between the chunks of knowledge we’ve accrued so far. It also feels like things are about to get a little busier, and as a person who paradoxically becomes more productive with less free time, as I prepare to start the new term proper, I have been thinking about what ideas I would like to explore in the blog this year:

  • What makes a good life? To get just a little philosophical, this question has been playing on my mind after I completed an ethics project last term. I don’t think I’m the only one – people have been asking this question as they imagine life beyond the pandemic’s restrictions. What do we need more or less of? In this video, Ali Abdaal mentions he audited his podcast listening (could anything ever scream ‘medic’ more than auditing your podcast choices?) and realised that his choices were not in balance – if a good life requires a balance between purpose, relationships and health, he felt the balance was tipped too far in favour of career aspiration at the expense of the other pillars. I’m in the process of doing a similar exercise and I’m definitely realising I distract myself with current affairs too much. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve found a new podcast that is providing you with tools to live better, and this year I plan to ask some people who are getting the balance right how they manage it.
  • Study Hub’s Redefining Practice series includes a recording of a webinar on Widening Participation in medicine, and it is a topic I find myself thinking about more and more as I progress through my course. As I have discussed in a previous post, the pandemic has likely changed medical education for ever, but are the medical educational establishment asking the right questions and being fully intentional about analysing and improving the best of these innovations, while eliminating the things that don’t work and reduce, rather than increase access? I think the important question of how we make medical and scientific literacy available to all could not be more important in our current age of mis- and disinformation, and I would like to speak to people who are doing the work in schools and communities to make useful, trusted health information available to all.
  • Moving from the level of the individual to that of policy-making, over the last few months, we have seen the power governments have to shape our futures for better or for worse. Who makes health policy and can it really be separated from policy to reduce poverty or improve educational outcomes? This week I learned about the Heywood Foundation Policy Prize, which is looking for the ideas that could shape public policy for the years ahead. On the blog this year, I would also like to explore the big ideas that will move us into a future that I hope will be better than our past – and if you’ve got any, I would love to hear them too.

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