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 covers 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.
UPDATE- August, 2021: Than Dar: Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship Final Report
At the time of writing the previous report, my final year had already begun, albeit remotely. After a few weeks of online lectures and seminars, we had in-person catch-up placements to make up for lost time during the first national lockdown. I spent 2 weeks in Paediatrics and 2 weeks in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Although I only spent half the time on these placements than I otherwise would have done without the pandemic, I still enjoyed the time I spent in these specialties and was able to learn a lot from the doctors there.
The catch-up placement was immediately followed by my year 5 exams which had been postponed by 6 months. Shortly after, I was pleased to find out I had passed so I could properly get on with my final year. My first placement was spent in 2 medical specialties: Geriatrics and Cardiology. In comparison to when I first started the clinical course in year 4, I felt much more confident asking and offering to help the doctors in the team. This meant I was able to refresh my clinical knowledge and practical skills on the ward having been out of practise for several months.
My second placement started off with 2 weeks in A&E just before Christmas followed by 2 weeks in Critical Care after Christmas when admissions and deaths from COVID-19 were skyrocketing. Although there had been COVID-19 outbreaks on the wards where I was placed in the previous placement, I knew that essentially all my encounters in Critical Care would be with COVID-19 patients. Despite the combined workload of flu season and COVID-19, the doctors were so generous with their time and taught me a lot whilst I was there. I was also revising for my written finals during this time as they were taking place in the first week of February. I think everyone in my year was feeling the stress and pressure during those winter months.
After my written finals were done, I started my GP placement in Lowestoft where I was able to practise a combination of in-person and remote consultations. A few weeks into the placement, I found out that I had passed my written exams. It was a huge weight off my shoulders knowing that the bulk of my finals were done now. I only had one more exam to prepare for.
My final placement was in Surgery, it had been the one that I had been looking forward to the most all year. It was a great chance for me get more experience in surgical specialties that I had not yet seen much of, such as Ophthalmology and ENT. The main team that I was attached to was Transplant. A highlight was being able to see a live donor kidney transplant. I was able to speak to and examine patients with very complex medical and surgical histories; this also served as useful preparation for my final exam in May.
Once my exams were all finally over, I began the Apprenticeship placement where I shadowed a junior doctor for 5 weeks with the aim of learning how to actually do the job that I would be starting after graduation. At the end of the first week, I found out that I had passed my final exam. It was a real relief to know that all my medical school exams were officially over. After that, I thoroughly enjoyed the Apprenticeship and gained a lot more confidence, although I know I am in the very early stages and still have so much more to learn about working as a doctor.
Looking back over my final year, it seemed to consist of a never-ending series of hoops to jump through with exams and job application deadlines happening every few weeks alongside clinical placements. I am lucky to have had the support of my family and friends throughout. Now that the academic year is over, I have a few weeks to relax and am looking forward to starting my new job at the end of July.
I was taken aback by the generosity of the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship when an additional year of funding was given to me. I am incredibly grateful for that extra support and indeed for the financial support I have received from the Scholarship over the course of my entire time at medical school. It has granted me access to so many opportunities, both academic and non-academic, that would not have otherwise been a realistic option for me. I am very fortunate to have been a pupil at Bolton School at the time when the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship was being awarded. I do hope that I will be able to thank Mr Forsyth in person in the future for this hugely generous Scholarship.
UPDATE- August, 2020: The three Dr Edith Forsyth Scholars, Katie Nightingale, Than Dar and Alliyah Ghanchi just finished their fifth year studying Medicine at university. Below are the letters that Eric received from the recipients:
From Katie Nightingale-University of Leeds
I would like to thank you for your continued support of my studies here at Leeds. This year has been
my fifth and final at University and your generosity has helped me to do everything I had only
My final year has been one of my favourites. I was given the freedom of choosing my own
placements, studied Orthopaedics and Rheumatology for the first time, and focused on becoming a
good junior doctor. I also finalised a research project I had been working on with a colleague since
2018. With this, we achieved an A grade and a Distinction from the University and have been
accepted to present to an international audience at the ‘International Conference of Undergraduate
Research’ in September.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the year was cut short and ended very differently to
how I had expected. Our final celebrations could not go ahead, modifications were made to our
examinations and I graduated early in April to join the front line as a Doctor. Although this hasn’t
been the start to my career I had planned, and despite the challenges the pandemic has thrown at
us all, I have really enjoyed working and supporting the NHS at this very difficult time.
I worked as an FiY1 in the renal department of St James Hospital, Leeds which I thoroughly enjoyed.
It was a huge learning curve working with both COVID and non-COVID patients and was an
extremely unique start to work. I have recently moved back to Manchester to start F1 at the Royal
Oldham Hospital, where I have secured my first-choice job-rotations for the next two years.
My experience over the last five years has been life changing. Before coming to university, I had no
idea what to expect. As the first in my family to experience it, I feel so grateful and excited to share
with them all I have achieved and learnt on my journey. I feel truly blessed when I look back at all
the other opportunities I have had and all the life-long friendships I have made, and I want to thank
you for your continued support in making all this possible. I am certain the impacts will be lifelong.
Thank you for everything and for always believing in me.
Dr Katie Nightingale
From Than Dar- University of Cambridge
My penultimate year of medical school began in mid-August with my GP placement. I was based in North Norfolk so it was interesting to see how GPs worked in remote rural communities. My colleagues and I were also able to explore the Norfolk coast during our placement which was a nice bonus. After this, I began my specialist placements which were the main focus of the year in order to build on the core areas covered last year.
During my six week Specialist Medicine placement I was able to spend a month in a specialty of my choice. I decided to undertake my placement with the Cardiothoracic Transplant team at the Royal Papworth Hospital. I was fortunate enough to see a lung transplant but by far the standout moment was accompanying the team on a DCD heart transplant retrieval. It is definitely one of the best highlights of my time in medical school so far. I was left in awe after seeing the slick teamwork that meant the heart was retrieved from the donor and connected to the machine for transporting all in less than 20 minutes. Once we were back in the Royal Papworth, I stayed on for the implantation of the donor’s heart into the recipient. The surgery continued into the early hours of the morning but sadly I did not have the stamina to stay until the very end having been up for 22 hours that day.
Next was Neurosciences and Mental Health. I spent two weeks of the placement at St Andrew’s in Northampton, a forensic psychiatric hospital. After some safety and security training, I was able to see patients in both the low- and medium-secure units. Hearing the patients’ histories gave me a lot to learn from and reflect on; the patients I met in the Child and Adolescent hospital and the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit are particularly memorable. This placement was a valuable opportunity as I had never encountered patients with severe psychiatric illnesses and forensic histories before and I am not sure that I will get such an opportunity again.
The next placement was Specialist Surgery. Despite being keen on Vascular Surgery, I chose Trauma and Orthopaedics (T&O) as it was another specialty that I was interested in but did not know much about. It turned out to be the best placement I have had. My supervisor did an excellent job of integrating me into his team; I learned so much from them and got a lot of valuable practical experience by getting stuck in in the operating theatre. I also attended cadaveric dissection courses for both the upper and lower limbs. Although they were aimed at surgical trainees, I gained a great insight into higher level T&O training that I would not otherwise get in the medical school curriculum.
During the T&O placement, I had signed up to be on the Transplant Rota which provides medical students with the chance to get scrubbed in and gain hands-on experience with transplant surgery. I was understandably excited when I got a call one evening about a liver transplant. Although I was just about to get into bed when I got the call, this time round I did stay until the end of the surgery (after a quick power nap in the changing rooms at 6am). The role of a medical student in theatre can be quite limited, especially in something as high stakes as transplant surgery, however I was still able to learn through doing the relatively simple things like retracting the organs and following the consultant’s sutures. I was inspired by the teamwork, stamina, and the very impressive technical skills of the surgeons.
The value of the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship became even more apparent to me over this past year due to the high travel and registration costs of the conferences that I attended to facilitate my career aspirations. I presented my research project that I completed last year at a national conference in Manchester. Whilst there, I also participated in an introductory-level Vascular Surgery course which further solidified my interest in the specialty. Another specialty I was interested in was Plastic Surgery; I attended a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine to learn more about it, however after the course I felt that specialty was not for me.
Throughout the year I have had a lot of fun as an Events Officer for the Surgical Society committee. I worked with some fantastic committee members to organise and run a number of workshops and conferences throughout the year. I am very much looking forward to taking on this role again in the next academic year. Outside of Medicine, I took up rowing again during my second term as it was something I had enjoyed so much during my third year. Training and competing alongside the other women in the team was thoroughly rewarding.
After my T&O placement finished at the start of March, I found out that, due to COVID-19, all of my placements for the rest of the academic year had been cancelled. Perhaps the most disappointing news was the cancellation of the summer medical electives. As a result, like many students, I adjusted to online remote learning and found other things to do during the lockdown. I have been working on research projects in Vascular Surgery, T&O, and Paediatric Rheumatology. Working from home has also meant that I have had much more time to help the sixth form students that I have been mentoring through Project Access, a non-profit organisation that provides free mentoring to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Currently, my sixth and final academic year is underway with all lectures taking place online. My focus at the moment is preparing for my fifth-year exams which have been postponed to October 2020. After that I will begin the Foundation Programme application process and preparing for my finals, which should hopefully be done by April 2021.
Without doubt the last five years would not have been possible for me if it were not for the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship. It has been a real privilege to be one of the recipients of a Scholarship that has afforded me so much academic and non-academic enrichment during my time at medical school. The most valuable lesson I have learned since receiving the Scholarship as an 18-year-old is the importance of widening access to higher education, especially to elite institutions. This is one of my key motivators moving forward as I hope to support students in a similar socioeconomic position to the one I was in during my time at school. Thank you to the late Dr Edith Forsyth, Mr Forsyth, and Bolton School for the generous financial support that you have given me over the years. I look forward to being able to thank Mr Forsyth in person next year, COVID permitting of course.
From Alliya Ghanchi-University of Leicester
I hope that you are keeping safe and well in these strange and challenging times.
I would like to begin by thanking you for your support and generosity. As I look back over the past five
years, I realise how much I have grown as a person and how much knowledge and experience I now have
to change the lives of others for the better. I feel so privileged to have entered the medical profession and
I am incredibly grateful for your support.
When I first embarked upon this medical degree, I was worried about the challenges that I would
experience, the intensity of the workload and the difficulties of living away from home. However, your
continuous support made the process much easier and allowed me to focus on my studies comfortably and
enjoy my time at university. Without your help, things would certainly have been different for me and my
family and I am so thankful.
The Edith Forsyth Scholarship has also enabled me to pursue an extra year of study at university. This year I
completed a Master of Science degree in Medical Research, to gain an insight into what research entails
and to conduct my own research project. I learnt about various methods of clinical research, ethical issues
within research and how to create a research proposal. I also conducted research within the field of
Obstetric Anaesthesia, looking specifically at how maternal hydration status changes during caesarean
section using novel technology. It was exciting to recruit patients to a study and monitor their status during
and after delivery of their baby. This year was also the first time that I was part of the team working to
improve patient care. Throughout the year, I had many assignments to complete and also had a thesis to
write about my project. I gained many skills that a conventional medical degree may not have taught me,
and these will inevitably make me a better physician and researcher in the future and allow me to improve
the lives of more patients. Other achievements this year include being elected as the president of my
university’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology society and being selected to be the ambassador of my university
for the national society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. These positions taught me a great deal about
leadership and effective communication which I can utilise in my career moving forward. I also had more
free time this year to focus on hobbies such as running, baking and spending more time with friends and
In the next few months I will be entering my final year at medical school. I feel immensely grateful to have
reached this stage with your support and kindness. I am excited to be going back to hospital and have
missed clinical medicine greatly. Although the landscape of the hospital may have changed due to COVID-
19 and the pressures on the NHS increased, I am looking forward to being able to diagnose and treat
I am immensely grateful and proud to have been a recipient of the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship. The
scholarship has been a huge help in making it easier to study a long and intense course when I otherwise
would be in financial hardship. I have gained so many amazing memories and friendships over the past five
years and have learned a vast amount of knowledge about the human body and how to become a good
doctor. This scholarship gave me the financial security to achieve my dreams and reach my full potential
without being limited by financial status. I will continue to work hard and strive to be the best doctor that I
can be to serve the community and give back to others so that I may continue the legacy of Dr Forsyth. I
hope that one day I will be able to help others just as you have helped me.
UPDATE- August, 2019: The three Dr Edith Forsyth Scholars, Katie Nightingale, Than Dar and Alliyah Ghanchi just finished their fourth year studying Medicine at university. Below are the letters that Eric received from the recipients:
From Katie Nightingale-University of Leeds
I would like to thank you so much for your continued support of my studies here at Leeds. I
have just finished my 4th year at university and with only one more year to go I am now so
excited to qualify as a doctor. This has only been possible because of you and your
generosity and I wanted to tell you a little bit about my year.
This year has been the toughest by far. At Leeds we term the 4th year ‘speciality year’ and it
involves 5, 6 week placements of completely new specialities. These have been in the fields
of; Emergency medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics, Oncology and
Psychiatry. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the different placements, especially the
emergency medicine strand and feel I have learnt so much this year to help me in my future
This year, although being the most difficult, it has also been one of the most interesting. I’ve
achieved great results in my assignments and have received constructive feedback from my
supervisors and tutors. In my practical exam (OSCE) I have gained a B overall and a C in
my written examination which I am extremely happy with.
This year I have also, along with another student, self-designed a research project which is
looking into diabetes in children and young people. This is something a bit different to the
standard curriculum and we have both really enjoyed doing it. We aim to continue with the
project throughout our fifth year.
Thank you for always believing in me and for giving me the motivation and support I have
needed throughout my first 4 years of medicine. With only one year to go, and with the finish
line in sight, I have to look back and reflect on all I have achieved and be proud of that. I
thank you for all you have helped make possible for me.
Thank you, Katie
From Than Dar- University of Cambridge
Towards the end of last summer, I had been looking forward to beginning my clinical
training and finally being able to get some patient contact. It is safe to say that fourth year
has surpassed my expectations in that respect and I have had a lot of fun learning on the
wards. Like last year, this year brought with it another completely new style of learning;
lectures and other timetabled teaching were largely replaced by opportunistic and
experiential learning on the wards, I am still getting used to it. I was put on the gastro and
stroke wards during my first term and spent most of this time, and in fact most of this past
year, getting to grips with taking medical histories from patients, examining them, and doing
practical skills such as venepuncture and suturing. My suturing skills were put to the test in
the second term during my surgery placement. I have wanted to become a surgeon for as
long as I can remember so unsurprisingly, I had been looking forward this placement the
most and was very excited when I got to scrub in and assist in a number of operations.
I am hoping that my position on the Surgical Society committee over the next year will allow
me to increase the number of students interested in surgery and help those who are already
set on a career in surgery to further develop their surgical skills, as well as improving my
own. I have attended a number of the society’s events over the past year. The Women in
Surgery event was the standout for me as the achievements of the female surgeons who
spoke at the event were truly exceptional, especially given that only 12% of consultant
surgeons are women despite over half of the UK’s medical students being female! I left
feeling incredibly inspired and even more determined to pursue a career in surgery.
I also undertook a clinical research project in vascular surgery during my second term. It is a
specialty that I have been interested in for a couple of years now, so this project was the
perfect way to gain a greater insight into the specialty and meet the vascular team at
Addenbrooke’s. My project looks at the role of duplex surveillance in identifying postoperative arterial complications in patients that have had lower limb bypass surgery. The
abstract for this project has been submitted to a national conference and I will be writing it
up with my supervisor at the start of fifth year in the hope of getting it published.
Despite being so set on surgery, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in General Practice and
Emergency Medicine during my final term with the latter being my favourite placement
overall this year due to the high intensity and rapid turnover of patients. With these
placements running into the days leading up my exams, I did worry about whether I had
done enough to pass as I had very little time to spend solely on revision, but I have done
which is a huge relief and I am now looking forward to fifth year. In September, myself and
an Old Boy will be heading to an international conference in Prague to present the findings
of our research project that we completed together last year. Conferences such as these are
not the most accessible to students like myself so, as always, I am hugely grateful for the
generous financial support that I have received from the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship and
know that it will be especially invaluable to me this time next year when I go on my medical
elective abroad. I realise how privileged I am to have received this award and thus will
continue to work hard to achieve as much as I can during my time at medical school.
Alliya Ghanchi-University of Leicester
I would like to begin by thanking you for your support throughout the last 4 years of my
medical degree. As I near my final years, I am filled with gratitude that I have been able to
achieve so much with your help and encouragement.
My fourth year at medical school has been intense to say the least, but I think it has been
my most enjoyable year so far. I have had multiple placements in different towns, gained
experience in many medical specialties and learnt about a plethora of conditions.
My best placement this year was paediatrics. Many of my friends detest paediatrics because
they find it emotionally difficult having to deal with sick children. I, on the other hand,
enjoyed spending time with children who are so different from the adults I had experience
with. The children were playful and good fun despite the fact that they were sick, and I left
many consultations with a smile on my face. I think I would gain immense pleasure from
treating children; the fact that they get better quicker than adults do and that treating a
child means setting them up for a healthier life ahead sounds like a satisfying prospect.
I also completed placements in obstetrics and gynaecology, neurology, ENT, stroke
medicine, geriatrics in the community, ophthalmology and dermatology this year. Obstetrics
and gynaecology was interesting. Being able to deliver a baby for the first time was an
emotional moment and I felt hugely privileged to be able to do this. I found obstetrics quite
gory, and labour ward felt like emergency medicine as it was very fast paced; decisions had
to be made quickly in a pressurized environment.
Looking ahead, I have end of year 4 exams in late August again, which I am preparing for.
After exams, I will start my fifth year. I will be spending next year intercalating which
involves completing a master’s degree in medical research (in one year), before returning to
the medicine course to complete my final year. This means that I will gain 2 degrees at the
end of the 6 years; a Master’s Degree in Science as well the MbChB. My project next year is
in the field of maternofoetal medicine and involves analyzing the fluid balance of pregnant
women during labour and caesarean sections. It is important as there are currently no
guidelines in this field and my findings may impact the management of women with
preeclampsia and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy whose fluid balance affects their
blood pressure. I am excited to spend a year doing research, recruiting patients, analyzing
data and writing up a dissertation. These are all things that the medical school curriculum
doesn’t teach, and spending a year doing this master’s degree will allow me to gain new
skills that I can use if I want to conduct clinical research in my future career and also stands
me in good stead when applying to competitive specialties.
Your unwavering belief in me has been the backbone to my success in medical school so far
and your help is allowing me to achieve my full potential. Thank you again for everything.
UPDATE- August, 2018: The three Dr Edith Forsyth Scholars, Katie Nightingale, Than Dar and Alliyah Ghanchi just finished their third studying Medicine at university. Below are the letters that Eric received from the recipients:
From Katie Nightingale-University of Leeds
I would like to thank you so much for your continued support of my studies here at Leeds. I have had a brilliant first three years at university and your generosity has helped me to doeverything I had only dreamed possible. I have a further two years left of my degree before I qualify as a doctor and am delighted to let you know a little about what you have made possible.
This year has been the first of three clinical years for me. It has involved undertaking five and six week placements in the Yorkshire area in Elderly medicine, Surgery, Special Senses, General Medicine and General Practice. I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the specialities,and being on the wards at the heart of the excitement has cemented my passion to pursue a career in medicine.
I am really making the most of my University experience and my third year has been amazing. I’ve achieved great results in my assignments and have received really useful feedback from my supervisors and tutors. All of my exam resulted have been better than ever this year scoring B’s in both my written and practical exams.
Aside from the core modules this year I participated in the NICE champion scheme which is a national programm set up by NICE. The scheme aims to improve the routine use of evidence based information by future health and social care staff. As part of the scheme I had to teach a skill to the rest of my year group as well as attend a conference in Manchester with other NICE champions. Both aspects were interesting and I am glad I took this opportunity on.
Meeting other health care professionals such as pharmacists and nurses was really interesting and learning about what their path involves will be useful in the future. I am really looking forward to next year because we get to do more specialized specialties such as paediatrics and emergency medicine which I think will be fun. It also will allow me to experience areas of medicine new to me and determine whether they are possible career paths for the future. Also, currently, myself and another student are looking for paediatricians to supervise a self-designed research project for year four, looking into diabetes in children and young people. We have currently found a lead for the project but are still looking to find a co-supervisor. This is another reason I am keen to start fourth year to begin pursuing this.
As I have mentioned in my previous reports, I competed for the university swimming team in years one and two. This year, due to placement commitments and training schedules, I have unfortunately been unable to continue with this. However, I have made time to catch up with the friends I made there and keep involved with the team, supporting them when I can. I have also joined the gym and I am really enjoying keeping fit that way instead. Before coming to University, I had no idea what to expect. As the first in my family to experience it I feel so lucky and excited to tell them about all I have achieved and learnt on my journey. I feel truly blessed when I look back at all the other opportunities I have had and all the friendships I have made and I want to thank you for your continued support in making
all of this possible. I am certain the impacts will be lifelong. Thank you for always believing in me and for giving me the motivation and support I have needed throughout my first 3 years of medicine.
From Than Dar- University of Cambridge
I have spent the past year completing my intercalated degree in Natural Sciences in the Psychology Department. The style of learning was quite different from the first two years; I was able to choose the lecture courses that I wished to study which was something that had not been previously possible. There was less lecture material and the workload was not as intense however there was a lot of reading to do which I struggled with at the start. The lecture courses that I selected covered a wide variety of areas in psychology ranging from mechanisms of psychosis to gender development, the latter being my favourite overall.
The vast majority of my time this year was spent completing my research project. I had an Old Boy as my lab partner which was great as we were able to support each other and work together over the course of the project. The teamwork was especially helpful when handling the lab rats, the rats were just as anxious as we were, so it took some time for both parties to become comfortable with each other. We used a chemogenetic experimental technique known as DREADDs that utilises a viral vector to drive the expression of a designer receptor at the site of injection, the receptor can then be specifically activated by a designer drug. We
targeted the ventral tegmental area to investigate the role of midbrain dopamine in probabilistic reversal learning; deficits in this type of learning have been implicated in a multitude of disorders such as drug addiction, schizophrenia and Parkinson’s Disease. The ventral tegmental area is part of a complex neural circuit involving structures such as the prefrontal cortex, dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens. These structures can be divided further into distinct regions that have their own specific roles in cognitive processing.
Unsurprisingly, the precise contributions of these structures and the connections between them is not fully understood, our lab project is one strand of a larger research project being conducted by our supervisors aiming to provide further insight into this area of cognitive behavioural neuroscience. The experience has given me a valuable understanding of what research involves and what it is like working with rats, a particular highlight was dissecting the brain out of a rat’s head for immunohistological preparation.
I relished the opportunity to take up more extra-curricular activities as my timetable was not as dense as it used to be. I took part in the Student Community Action ‘Big Sibs’ project where each volunteer is allocated with a ‘Little Sib’ that they visit on a weekly basis to play games with them and generally provide company; I had a group of three sisters that I visited along with another third-year medic. We had a lot of fun doing this and are hoping to keep it up infourth year. I decided to take up rowing since this year was probably my final chance to have a go at it. I have absolutely loved it, in particular the team of amazing women that I have spent
many hours training with. I continued to attend talks and debates at The Union Society; the most significant event I attended was a talk given by the late Professor Stephen Hawking. I had queued for several hours beforehand to get in to the event and I am so glad that I did.
Having completed my first university degree, I am relieved that the hard work has paid off and to have made it halfway through medical school. I am very much looking forward to starting at the Clinical School in September. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship for the financial support that I have received so far, the past three years would certainly not have been manageable without it.
Alliya Ghanchi-University of Leicester
I found my third year to be challenging but very enjoyable. The period before the winter break was spent finishing the last preclinical modules including nervous system and pharmacology. Towards the end of the semester, I was given a certificate of achievement for my progress over the last two and a half years. I then started clinical placements in January, and spent time in general practice, psychiatry, surgical and medical wards. I was initially very nervous about the new term. T
The transition from preclinical to clinical medicine was daunting at first, as there is less guidance from the medical school, and we are expected to study
independently, but I am now getting to grips with it. Each placement is different and each has its own demands. Most of my learning is done on wards, taking histories and examining patients, looking at their test results, taking bloods and participating in ward rounds. Many of my placements have been outside of Leicester, and I am currently living in onsite accommodation next to Peterborough City Hospital. This can be isolating at times, as the hospital is surrounded by the A47 and nothing much else! However, the city centre is a nice place to visit on weekends, with old stone buildings and a beautiful cathedral.
Over the winter period, I organised work experience with the obstetrics and gynaecology department in Leicester. This was a fantastic, hands-on week during which I assisted caesarean and natural deliveries, and spent time on emergency gynaecology assessment and outpatient units. I found this time very insightful and could imagine myself doing this in the future. I also attended the annual undergraduate ob-gyn medical students’ day at the Royal College in London, to find out more about this career and practice using some of the surgical equipment, which was fascinating and something I found myself enjoying. I am now preparing for my end of year exams which are at the end of August. Thanks to your financial help, I don’t have to worry about working over the holidays and can focus on studying during this crucial time. As always, I am extremely grateful for this scholarship and all that it is allowing me to achieve. Thank you for your continued support over the last few years.
UPDATE- September, 2017: The three Dr Edith Forsyth Scholars, Katie Nightingale, Than Dar and Alliyah Ghanchi are in their third studying Medicine at university. Below are the letters that Eric received from the recipients:
I began the academic year feeling uncertain about my ability to cope with the demands of the coming year as I found the workload last year to be very challenging and I knew that the second year course was going to be even tougher. However the year played out better than I had anticipated, fortunately. The workload was indeed greater but I was able to enjoy it so much more because the content of the course was far more interesting and exciting; a lot of this was down to some exceptional lecturers and supervisors that I have had this year, particularly in neurobiology, whom I am very grateful for. Overall this made the weekly tasks of essay writing and revision feel far less overwhelming, and my performance in the end of year exams improved from last year as a result.
Over this summer vacation I will be completing a piece of coursework that looks into non NHS healthcare provision in the community with a particular focus on
alternative/complementary medicine and voluntary organisations that are charitably funded. The former is a controversial area of medicine that I researched as part of my Extended Project in Sixth Form so I am looking forward to revisiting this topic. For the latter, I will be visiting a local charity that supports people with dementia and their families which I am sure will be a valuable experience.
I am very much looking forward to the next academic year as I will be undertaking my intercalated degree which will be quite different from what I have experienced over the past two years. It is also supposedly less intense in comparison to the first two years of the course so I am hoping that this means I will be able to partake in at least one extra-curricular activity every week as I have not been able to make such a commitment thus far.
I have now submitted my research project choices and am hoping that I will be assigned to one of my top preferences, but regardless of which one I get assigned to I am still very excited to work in a lab. In addition to writing a report on the research project and studying for the end of year essay papers, there is also the opportunity to write an optional dissertation which I intend to take up although I am not yet sure on a specific topic. This next year will (hopefully) end with my first graduation in June 2018 which will mark the end of my time as an undergraduate medic, after which I will continue into clinical school for the remaining three years.
As always, thank you to the Dr Edith Forsyth Scholarship Award for providing me with such invaluable financial support, the past two years would certainly have been a lot more difficult without it.
-Than Dar- University of Cambridge
Thank you so much for your continued support of my studies here at Leeds. Looking back over my first two years of University, all I have achieved so far, is owed to your generosity that has helped me to make so many things possible.
I am really enjoying my course so far. I found first year here a challenge, but one which I was able to step up to. This year, things have stepped up even more but I am enjoying it as much as ever. The anatomy strand of the course is particularly testing however, but knowing I have your support has given me the confidence to ask questions and work hard, and I have risen to the challenge.
I am really making the most of my University experience and my second year has been amazing. I’ve achieved great results in my exams and assignments and have received wonderful feedback from my tutors.
My modules are also really interesting this year. It is so fascinating to learn about all of the different areas of pathology and I find Medical science particularly interesting as it has allowed me to explore the mechanism of the human body even further. I have received a certificate for my research report as it ranked in the top 20 in the year.
Something I have learnt recently is the importance of taking breaks away from studying so this year I have really made the most of living in Leeds. It’s such a vibrant city and there is so much to do here. I have participated in events such as the Colour Run which have opened my eyes to exactly how much Leeds has to offer. I have also used my free weekends to explore neighbouring towns like York and Harrogate and it’s been great, at the end of a week, to get out with my friends and explore somewhere new. I have also been making the most of the University’s clubs and have remained a member of the university swimming team, representing them at all levels. I swam competitively through school and college and it is something I am so grateful to be able to continue with through my university career. It has also been brilliant to meet students from different courses who I never would have met were it not for the society. I also have been able to purchase the university team kit to represent the team around the country in tournaments.
I am thoroughly enjoying placement and am very excited for third year where placement is a much bigger part of the course. Learning new skills on the job is something which I find effective as a learning technique and so I feel I am growing everyday within the career. When applying to University, I knew I was at the start of the road to my future career but University has been so much more for me than that. I often look at the friends I have made, the experiences I have had,
the exciting opportunities coming up, and find myself thinking that this was all made possible by your continued support. I might never have experienced what many other students have so easily if it wasn’t for your help and I am so grateful to you for giving me these lifelong opportunities.
Thank you again for your generous support.
–Katie Nightingale-University of Leeds
I began second year feeling more relaxed and a lot less nervous than first year as I knew what to expect. I share a flat with my friends and have adapted to the responsibilities that this entails!
Although the step up from first year to second year was a little challenging at first, I quickly got into the swing of things and learnt how to manage a full timetable and maintain a work-life balance too. I was a part of many societies such as the Obstetric and Gynaecology society, global health short course, Friends of MSF and I helped teach the first years. Recently, I had my article on the production of bile published on the Teach Me Physiology website, which aims to provide free medical education online. I work as an Ambassador at university open days to help others get into medical school. I also had the pleasure of attending the SCTS conference in Belfast and presented a poster there showing the findings of the research I did last summer. I attended talks given by Cardiothoracic surgeons about their career and speciality training, and saw the ‘robots’ they use to operate on patients.
During the second half of the year, I began hospital/GP placements for a few hours each week and was able to practice examinations and history taking. This was an introduction to the full time clinical teaching that I will be undertaking from January next year. I will be based on hospital wards or at a GP surgery and will see patients every day. I’m very excited about next year and my transition into the clinical years, as interacting with patients is what I enjoy the most.
My exam results this year were pleasing, and I was placed in the second decile. I also achieved a distinction in the 10,000 word essay I wrote about a patient that I have been visiting over the last two years. Another recent achievement is that I passed my driving test, and am hoping to buy a car before I start clinical rotations.
I am extremely grateful for my Edith Forsyth Scholarship, as it would have been very difficult for me to manage a part time job and deal with the challenge of achieving well at medical school. The scholarship stops me from worrying about paying the rent/bills and allows me to focus on my studies, and for this I am very thankful.
–Alliya Ghanchi-University of Leicester
UPDATE – 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