Jake Laycock

Jake is a first year Doctor of Medicine student and 2020 recipient of the Professor David Penington Scholarship.

I began studying at Melbourne Medical School in Semester 1, 2020. The thing that has stood out to me is the extraordinary extent to which the Medical School goes to ensure they deliver an exceptional program. I’m repeatedly excited by the high calibre of academics that we’re lucky to work with on a day-to-day basis. Even in light of all the challenges 2020 has thrown at us, I’m impressed by how smoothly the School has kept things on course.

If I had to choose a favourite subject, it would be our Case Supported Learning (CSL) classes. On Mondays, we’re presented a hypothetical patient case orientated around that week’s particular learning objectives. We piece together the information we do know and get an idea of all the things we have no idea about (which can be extensive). Throughout the week we build our knowledge so that by Friday we can apply it to our patient scenario. I think of it as the game day in footy! During the week you need to follow through with all your training: cardio, weight sessions, ball drills, so that come kick-off (apologies to the Victorians) you can put them all together as a team.

My favourite thing about Medical School so far has been meeting so many amazing new people. Leaving your friends and family behind and moving interstate, as I did, is a daunting experience.

However, within the first few hours of orientation week, I knew I had made the right choice. I think medicine is such a tough course to set out on that it very much galvanises everyone together.

I completed my Honours in neuroscience at the Queensland Brain Institute, supervised by a neurosurgeon and neurologist who specialise in deep brain stimulation. I had my first experience of “real medicine” when I was lucky enough to go into the operating theatre to observe them at work. The patient that day was a woman with Parkinson’s Disease. She was visibly frightened as she needed to be awake when the electrodes were implanted into her brain. She couldn’t turn her head so the neurologist crouched down so that she could see his face and whispered something that only she could hear.

It made her laugh and left a smile on her face. Where there was fear before, now there was trust.

To me, my supervisor had exemplified the very definition of a doctor without even touching a scalpel. The neurosurgeon set to work implanting the stimulating electrodes and then, with the flick of a switch, stimulation was turned on. Like magic, after so many years, this patient stopped shaking. It was that moment that I knew I was pursuing the right path.

When I heard I had been awarded the David Penington scholarship, I couldn’t believe it. The support this scholarship provides is so generous. It liberates me from financial burden and uncertainty while I’m studying so that I can concentrate on achieving my academic potential. Professor Penington is a fascinating man who holds many of the qualities that I hope to incorporate into my own professional identity, and I’m excited to meet with him once the current situation permits. In the meantime, I owe David all the thanks in the world for his support.