Apparently, one day, I may have to grow up. Those of you who know me know that my current medical degree is actually my third; I’ve just done my 9th Fresher’s week and have one more to go (and yes, my liver and I are only just on speaking terms).
But this isn’t quite enough for me. When I went into Medicine, I was determined from day one that I was going to be a Plastic surgeon, looking after people (primarily kids, ideally) with serious burns. That way I could operate and transform people’s lives but also see those people repeatedly and form long-term relationships (something that is all too rare in many surgical specialties). Then life, and MaxilloFacial Surgery got in the way. It wasn’t a placement I wanted particularly, but as is often the way, I found an incredible role model in one of my consultants, who made it all look terribly feasible, and as I watched her rebuild a toddler’s face while scrutinising his nursery photo to make sure it was perfect, I realised I was exactly where I wanted to be, and to stay. This was not ‘just’ plastics – this was plastics and orthopaedics ON THE FACE.
There is, as ever, a slight issue with this plan. I have to do another degree, this time in dentistry. I could attempt it in 3 years, but there is only one course in the UK (which is in London – not a cheap place to live), or 4 years, which would allow me to work while I study, and earn some much needed cash, while potentially living in Scotland. And they have whisky and haggis in Scotland, so that plan sounds particularly excellent.
The major issue (apart from my ever-shrivelling ovaries), is that the funding for students doing dentistry secondary to medicine (or vice versa) is less than negligible; there is currently no Student Finance Tuition Fee Loan. This means I have to magic up £36,000 which will need to be paid AS I GO. No ‘pay you back when I’m a top surgeon in my Porsche, mate’ for MaxFax. Oh no.
Honestly, I don’t know how or if I’m going to make it work. I can’t do the specialty I want to without more financial support. And I’m by no means the only one.
The tragic thing is that there is now more need for Max Fax surgeons than ever before. With the rise of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus), we are seeing more cases of mouth and throat cancers than ever before (I think that’s what Michael Douglas was on about, anyway). Kids continue to be born with heads that aren’t the right shape, and need fixing. We are excellent at keeping them alive now, but that means many surgeries on children that previously wouldn’t have survived long enough to have them. Also, we have faster and faster cars, motorbikes, and numerous other opportunities for people to bash their skulls in. Literally anyone could end up having to see a MaxFax surgeon at some point (even if it’s just for a tricky wisdom tooth extraction), and yet we are pricing applicants out of this much needed specialty.
So I’m asking for your help. No, I’m not releasing a charity single (hasn’t gone so well for Bob recently), but I am asking you to sign one whole petition to help us get this discussed in Parliament. The lovely Miran (@otorhinosaurus on Twitter – FOLLOW HIM!) has set this up. He’s not a MaxFax wannabe, but an ENT surgeon who has decided to try and help out his future colleagues. I love him for that.
Please sign it, and forward it (or even this post) on to people you know who might do the same. I hope none of you ever have reason to see a MaxFax (or any other surgeon, come to that), but if you do, you can feel a warm glow of having possibly helped them get to the stage where they can help you in return.