The Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship Award

Eric has donated a scholarship fund to the Bolton School’s Girls’ Division in honor of his late wife Edith.  The scholarship to study Medicine at University was offered to three students from the Bolton School’s Girls’ Division.  The Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship Award provides financial support for five years of university medical training for the girls who started their degrees in September 2015 and otherwise might be deterred from studying Medicine because of financial hardship.

The award will cover five years of training at £15,000 per annum and has been generously donated by an Old Boy of the School, Eric Forsyth, in memory of his late wife, Edith. Eric wishes to provide the same opportunity for a young woman, that he and Edith enjoyed when they went to Manchester University in 1950; namely a free education under the 1944 Education Act.

Eric and Edith subsequently moved to Canada and later to the United States, where Edith was a highly respected physician on Long Island. She was beloved by all her patients and has been sorely missed since her passing in 1991.

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Image result for new pngUPDATE – March, 2017: The three Dr Edith Forsyth Scholars, Katie Nightingale, Than Dar and Alliyah Ghanchi are in their second year studying Medicine at university.  Below are  the letters that Eric received from the recipients:

“My experience of second year Medicine so far has been quite different to first year. Although there is significantly more content to learn this year, I feel like I have a better idea of how I to cope with the workload having been through first year. This has involved making a lot more of an effort to maintain my interests outside of Medicine; I have joined the Union Society and I am a Student Ambassador for my college.

I have found the course this year to be much more interesting as we have explored areas that I wanted to find out more about during my time at school, in particular cardiovascular pathology and neurobiology. It has actually been highly satisfying to apply what I have heard in the lectures to patient cases that I encountered during my work experience in Sixth Form.

I am in the process of deciding what to study for my intercalated year, which will be the next academic year. There is a considerable range of subjects that I can choose from, some are not as obviously related to Medicine as others but they need not be. I would quite like to do Psychology as it is rather different to the other material covered in the course so far, primarily because our knowledge of how the mind works is not nearly as comprehensive as some of the other systems in the body, which is what attracted me to this subject initially. I would also be conducting my own research project as part of the intercalated year although I have not thought too much about this aspect yet.

My current focus is the Head and Neck anatomy exam that I will be taking at the end of this term. Unfortunately dissection does not form part of the course this year as the structures of the head and neck are so delicate. However I have been able to study some beautifully dissected prosections. Undoubtedly my next aim after that will be devoting my time to revising for the exams in June.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the generous financial support that I have received. I did not imagine that life at university would be as expensive as it has been; the funding has been invaluable in ensuring that I can dedicate time to my studies and enjoy what Cambridge has to offer without being a financial burden on my family.” 

-Than Dar- University of Cambridge

“Second year has proved to be busier than first year, and I have recently started GP/hospital clinical placements once a week, which are extremely enjoyable and a really good opportunity to practice the reams of knowledge that I have been learning!  I achieved a Merit for my first year exam results and in my recent exams in January, my results placed me in the top 20% of my year. My second year modules have been challenging but extremely interesting and there is more of a clinical focus on things now. So far, I have completed modules covering bodily systems such as the respiratory, urinary and gastrointestinal systems as well as studying health psychology. I am currently learning about the anatomy of the head and neck and the reproductive system. 

Over the summer, I attended a Friends of MSF training day in London, held at the MSF Headquarters which showed me the array of opportunities that I can be involved in as a medical student and doctor working for MSF. This is something that I am interested in. The systematic review research (on preoperative weight loss interventions) that I have been doing since the summer, alongside my university studies, has been published and I will be going to Belfast in a few weeks’ time to do a poster presentation of the data at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery. Last semester, I was the publicist for FoMSF and also helped recruit a speaker and organise a session on Gender Inequality and Health for the Global Health Short Course Society. This was an eye-opening experience which helped me develop organisational and leadership skills. 

Last semester, as part of my role as the Treasurer of the ObGyn Society, I helped organise and put on an information evening to students wishing to pursue a career in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. I am very keen on this specialty and have been in contact with Dr Brigid Hayden who I have known since applying to medical school. We are currently organising a lecture on maternal health in developing countries. 

This year, I feel more relaxed and settled into university, with a good network of friends for support. In my spare time, I attend Zumba classes and also joined the medic’s football club, which I have found to be a great team building sport! Overall, the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship is allowing me to study without worrying about money or a job. I can focus on my studies and am extremely grateful for this privilege. ”

Alliya Ghanchi-University of Leicester

“So far, second year has got off to a really promising start. Having learnt from first year, I have kept on top of my studies much better this year and I feel much more prepared for my exams. We have had some assessed presentations in first term of which all went well and I passed to high standards. March has many deadlines for me and so I am working hard to reach them all now. 

I have taken a stronger interest this year in learning about new specialities and so have attended multiple talks from professionals. I found this to be vital as many of my fellow students have medics in their families and so understand the career better; however I have taken it upon myself to get a good understanding with the hope I may discover what may or may not suit me. I attended a paediatrics conference last month which I really enjoyed too although I am very far away from choosing a speciality for definite. 

I am continuing to represent the swim team and performed well at BUCS in November. I am thoroughly enjoying this side of my university career. Placement this year is much more full on; having a full day a week in either primary or secondary care. So far I have learnt how to take blood and also cannulate which I have found very exciting. My history and examination techniques are also improving.

Medical school is going really well so far and I would once again like to express my thanks for the opportunity you’ve provided me with. “

Katie Nightingale-University of Leeds

UPDATE – August, 2016:   The three Dr Edith Forsyth Scholars, Katie Nightingale, Than Dar and Alliyah Ghanchi have completed their first year studying Medicine at university.  Below are  the letters that Eric received from the recipients:

“My first year at university has been a whirlwind of excitement. From moving in in September I’ve definitely learned a lot. I joined the swim team at the start of my degree and have enjoyed representing and competing for the university this first year. I have also thoroughly enjoyed the medical course so far, passing all my assignments and assessments to levels much higher than my expectations.

The anatomy strand has been particularly interesting and an area of science completely new to me. I have achieved the level ‘very good’ by the end of this first year of which I’m very proud of. Placement has been exciting too and I am looking forward to next year where we will spend even more time on placement. So far I have experienced a hand and wrist surgery ward and a placement in a GP both of which I’ve definitely enjoyed.

The scholarship has been of great benefit to myself, without which I don’t think I would’ve been able to go to university. I am extremely humbled and thankful for the opportunity I have been given and after passing my first year of the medical degree would like to say a massive thank you both to yourself and Dr Edith Forsyth.”-  Katie Nightingale

“My first year of medical school has been exciting and challenging, and I have loved every moment. The Edith Forsyth Scholarship has enabled me to have a successful year. Regarding my academic achievements, I gained a Merit for my overall performance in first year, which places me above average. This result is a culmination of a total of 4 written papers I sat in January and May, together with an OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) which encompasses 15 stations focussed on clinical examinations of various body systems as well as cadaveric anatomy identification and basic history taking skills. I have also successfully applied for positions on various committees, and can happily announce that I hold the following responsibilities for the next academic year:  Treasurer for the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Society  Publicist for Friends of MSF  Committee member for Global Health Short Course 2016 – I am on the committee for the launch of Leicester Medical School’s first ever Global Health Short Course, which aims to provide workshops and lectures by prominent speakers to discuss global health issues and strategies to combat them. I am also the lead for the gender and health session, and have liaised with professors to give lectures on gender inequalities in healthcare and maternal health.

Student Ambassador for Leicester Medical School – I give tours and demonstrations to showcase medical education. I have recently applied and been selected to be on the student editorial team, as a peer reviewer, for The Student Doctor Journal. This is an open access, biannual, general medical journal, which publishes articles written primarily by medical students. My responsibility is to review research articles that students have produced, to ensure the results are sound in order to be published in the journal. Over the summer, I am currently conducting research with Cardiothoracic surgeons at Glenfield Hospital. We are conducting a systematic review on the effects of preoperative weight loss on postsurgical outcomes. This is a new area of research, and is based on the Obesity Paradox theory, that having abdominal fat can, to an extent, help patients post-surgery. The Edith Forsyth Scholarship has provided me with the security of achieving my ambitions without the worry of juggling the demands of a medical education and a part-time job. It has been an invaluable support and will prove to be so in future years, especially as I am trying to save some money from it to so that I can spend an extra year at medical school after my second year, to get an intercalated BSc degree in a research project of my choice. I end in gratitude and appreciation for the Edith Forsyth Scholarship and strive to do it justice.  Kind Regards” – Alliya Ghanchi

“In the weeks building up to the start of university I was nervous to say the least. I had started the work that was sent to me the day after I received my exam results; I could not believe that I had already been given work to do when the summer holidays were barely over and it made me wonder how I would cope with the demands of the course. I had received a freshers’ guide which gave me an idea of what to expect once I arrived. This included an unusual list of words and definitions that were somewhat unique to the students of Cambridge for example ‘mathmo’ is used to describe a maths student and the academic terms are referred to as ‘Michaelmas’, ‘Lent’ and ‘Easter’. The unusual words came with some unusual traditions. The first one that I experienced was Matriculation during freshers’ week. It started with a formal five-course dinner in candlelight whilst wearing our black gowns, I initially found the sheer amount of cutlery rather confusing and I was not a fan of the cheese course although I tried to be. This was followed by the official ceremony and photograph the next morning; after signing a sheet of paper in the ceremony I officially became a member of my college and the university. It was quite a bizarre introduction to university life and certainly very different to what I am used to back home.

The medics were warned about the workload by our Director of Studies during freshers’ week, he said that the vacations were not referred to as holidays because we vacate the building and continue studying at home, we were also told that we should not stop working until the exams were over in summer. It sounded ridiculous but I knew that I would have to work continuously if I wanted to pass the exams. The part of the course that I had been looking forward to the most was full-body dissection. Although I was apprehensive at first I very much enjoyed dissection, I learnt an incredible amount and as the weeks progressed I came to appreciate the sacrifice that the body donors and their families had made to further our medical education. I was actively involved in many extra-curricular activities at school, especially music, but the workload at university meant that I could not commit to joining bands or choirs. This was something I really missed so I purchased a digital piano over Christmas because I knew that playing music was an enjoyable and effective way for me to de-stress; I played it regularly as a break from studying. I was given a taste of what Cambridge exams would be like during Lent term. The term began with mock exams and ended with two real exams which I passed much to my relief. Before I knew it, Easter term was upon me and exam week was fast approaching.

Purchasing a Medical Society membership gave me access to some fantastic resources which really helped me with my revision. The incredibly high levels of stress, panic and pressure during exam week were like nothing I had ever experienced before; my exams were all back-to-back and had been crammed into a week and a half. I was absolutely exhausted after my final exam but I was excited for May Week. May Week, which is actually in June, is by far my favourite Cambridge tradition; it is a week full of May Balls hosted by many of the colleges. I could not have imagined a better way to celebrate after a year of non-stop hard work; I was finally able to relax and have fun without exams or essays constantly in the back of my mind. However, the thought of exams had not entirely escaped me because my results were being released during May Week, fortunately I passed them all. I knew that studying Medicine was going to be difficult but I was not prepared for the level of intensity and pressure at Cambridge. However, I believe this really helped me to thrive. I was overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge and the level of detail that I was expected to learn, it was actually rather frightening but I now realise that, unlike A Levels, it is not possible to know the course material inside out however hard I tried. I had to adapt to find new and more efficient ways of working and these methods will undoubtedly change as I progress through medical school.

Having more independence at university has helped me to undergo personal development and it has been a relief to know that I am not a financial burden on my parents as I am able to manage my own finances with the aid of the scholarship. On reflection, my first year at medical school has definitely been a positive learning experience. I feel incredibly lucky to have gained so much knowledge from some of the best academics in the world who have pushed my intellectual abilities to new limits.” -Than Dar