SUMMA – a student’s perspective (Joëlle Koster)

by Joëlle Koster

When I was in High School, I had to make a choice like every other high school kid: what was I going to do next? I did not want to become a doctor. Standing at a bedside, asking how patient x was feeling today, was not something I saw myself do. Besides, everyone else already wanted to study medicine, so the rebel in me protested and did not even let me think twice about it: I was not going to become a doctor. Nevertheless, I was extremely interested in the human body and all biological and chemical processes herein. I decided to start the bachelor’s program in Biomedical Sciences.

I never regretted studying Biomedical sciences, although I did find it though at moments. I noticed that research was hard. It was all about money and being the best in the field. About making a name for yourself and publishing in influential journals. Searching for meaning and being of meaning to others, it is an understatement to say I did not feel at home in that world. However, my vision of this world of research was wrong. I met researchers who aimed high and whose goal it was to help patients in need. Translational research began to speak to me.

And, funny as it may be, I learned I genuinely liked to work with people (and patients in particular). Even though this was a reason why I decided nót to become a clinician, I learned this was what I had missed during my bachelor’s programme. Becoming more and more motivated to connect the world of research to the patient, my desire to become a research-clinician grew. To me this seemed to be the most effective way of doing research and doing it in a way that would always keep a close eye on the goal: helping someone who is sick and in need of help.

Knowing how hard the world can be on a young research-clinician, I do think being motivated and remembering for whom you are doing this, is of the utmost importance. Guidance, from for example projects like the Pathway-project, will make ‘’surviving’’ in this environment more likely. Projects like these can help a young mind make choices that are necessary to get to the finish line. Whether those questions will be regarding moral dilemma’s or social status, is something I will have to find out. I am sure, however, having the right network will provide a safety net and keep you on the right track towards a research-clinician.

I cannot say where we, SUMMA-students, will be in 10 years. I hope I will be doing what I love about clinicians: the drive to help people in need. That I will strive towards what I love in researchers: the drive to aim high and not settle for less. Hopefully somewhere in life, you can find me in a third world country, helping those who need the basics more than we could imagine. Organisations like Doctors without borders speak to me more and more. I pray the research-clinicians of this world, of whom I hope to be a part one day, will find new ways to improve health and the health care system. Not only for us, but for everyone in need of it in this world.

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