MENTOR 2023 Essay Prize
1st Place Prize Winner: Na Young Jin
My name is Na Young Jin - I am a 4th year medical student at St. George's University. I am currently intercalating at Imperial College London for my Biomedical Engineering Course and going on to finish my final year at St. George's after my intercalation.
Starting from medical school to becoming a consultant, becoming a doctor is a long and
challenging journey that requires hard work, motivation, and perseverance. Around thirteen
years of training is required to build the practical skills and knowledge to qualify as a
consultant, which is a calculation that excludes intercalations, additional foundation year
training, or PhD programmes that often many students and doctors will have to undertake
to build on their experiences. On this long journey, students and even doctors need to have
mentors who can guide them through different stages of their careers. From providing
valuable advice on navigating the speciality programs to simply offering words of
affirmation, mentors provide immense value to medical students and doctors so that they
can succeed in their chosen fields and reach their full potential.
Recently, I had the privilege of attending a joint mentorship event hosted by the Korean UK
Medical Association for doctors and students, where students and doctors with different
levels of experience were able to share their achievements and difficulties encountered on
the way. The talks included a variety of topics, such as life as an F1 doctor and working as a
doctor in Korea. I was able to listen to talks that best fit my interest in Internal Medicine and
network with doctors in similar fields. I also had the opportunity to ask several doctors for
advice regarding electives and foundation year applications so that I can set realistic
expectations and prepare for the upcoming year. Although approaching the doctors was
initially intimidating, I felt comforted when a doctor described mentorship as a symbiotic
relationship. Often, as a student, it may seem difficult to reciprocate the useful advice and
guidance given by seniors but comments like this are reminders that mentorship is a two-
way street with both parties benefitting from these interactions.
While advice on career progression is helpful, talking to my seniors and mentors always
provides a great sense of community, especially in times when medical school feels stressful
and isolating. Seniors with similar cultural backgrounds and career paths often provide more
relatable advice that is not limited to just the academic aspect of medical school. Because it
is easy to get fixated on the academic aspect of medical school, I found in-person events like
this a great opportunity to also reflect on managing life outside of medicine. Talking to
mentors who also had to navigate the line between personal life and medicine provided
reassurance that I too could find my own boundaries.
Although it can be a daunting journey to navigate, medical school and training come with
meaningful and fruitful relationships that we build with our peers and seniors along the
way. Out of the many relationships formed, mentorship is a powerful tool that can
significantly impact an individual’s personal and career trajectory. I hope that through these
experiences, I will also be able to be in the position of a mentor and give back to the
community that provided many opportunities.
As a medical student, I am constantly reminded of the importance of mentorship and
guidance not only throughout the degree, but also beyond graduation. Thus, I decided to
attend the KUMA-KUMAS Mentor-Mentee Networking Social which provided the amazing
opportunity for me to connect with not only other medical students, but with doctors who
were keen on supporting and guiding medical students.
The event was organised to give students as well as doctors a wide range of talks to provide
deeper insight into the life of a doctor at certain stages of medical training. Talks were also
organised to introduce certain specialties and what the application and training process
looked like. Attendees were given autonomy in deciding what they wanted to allocate more
time to. Networking was occurring alongside the scheduled talks, allowing us to spend our
time networking when we preferred. The talks were of high quality, with esteemed doctors
giving up their time to personally deliver talks during the event. Attendees were also
accommodated for well, with the event being in a well-chosen comfortable venue and free
beverages being provided throughout the event.
Attending this event allowed me to gain a deeper and more realistic insight into how medical
training after graduation will look like. As a medical student, it can be difficult to obtain
information and advice on career pathways and training schemes, which I was able to obtain
from attending this event. Having conversations with doctors of different specialties, stages
and backgrounds allowed me to gain a variety of valued opinions and advice on my future
plans, which have definitely influenced my thought process.
Events where KUMA and KUMAS come together always provide a warm, friendly, and close-
knit environment where I feel a sense of belonging. These events make me feel that I have a
support system I can turn to as a medical student from Korea in London. The geniality of the
doctors allowed me to feel comfortable approaching them and asking questions which I
Mentorship truly aids our development as students and doctors at all stages of our training,
yet it is something that can be hard to find. The time and effort the mentors put into aiding the
mentees through the difficult times of studying and training is something I will always
appreciate and find warmth in.
2nd Place Prize Winner: Yoon Soo Park
My name is Yoon Soo Park - I am a 4th year medical student studying at Imperial College London, currently intercalating in Endocrinology.