Graduate shares her story

Chloé Paulse talks about her grueling seven-year journey to become a doctor.

26 May 2019 | People

Chloé Paulse; Doctor; “If you wish to study medicine, you need to have a passion for it.”

Walvis Bay - Leandrea Louw



Chloé Paulse (25), a graduate of the University of Namibia (Unam) medical school, grew up in the salty and dusty streets of Narraville.

She says that she has always wanted to become a doctor. “My favourite subject in primary school was natural science and this was where my love for medicine started,” she says. She took life science and later biology in high school. “I heard about the establishment of the School of Medicine in my grade 10 year and decided to work hard towards my dreams.”

Chloé took Afrikaans, English, biology, mathematics and physical science on higher level and received three 2-gradings. She obtained a 1 grading in biology, a 3 grading in mathematics and had accounting as an additional subject on ordinary level for which she achieved an A symbol.

“I applied to medical school with my second trimester marks and wasn't accepted. I approached them again with my final marks. They replied that they can accept me, but wouldn't be able to accommodate me due to space constraints. I did not want to take a gap year.”


Sound advice

Fortunately someone advised her to apply for the Bachelor in Science degree and then to proceed with another application to medical school, which she did.

“I eventually graduated after a gruelling seven years. However, my journey to becoming a fully-fledged doctor is still not over. Applying for my science degree first was one of the best decisions I could ever have made and I would recommend this to anyone that wishes to study at the School of Medicine and who wants to increase their chances to be accepted to follow this route.”

Chloé says she still needs to do a two-year internship.

In light of the Ministry of Health and Social Services that had until recently said it won't place graduates as interns at one of the teaching hospitals in Windhoek or the North, Chloé said that she would be doing volunteer work at the state hospital in Walvis Bay until being placed.

She explained her journey to study medicine was a hectic but great experience.

“It became tougher as time progressed. The first two years consisted mainly of theory. In our third and fourth years it was both theory and practical. During our final two years we focused only on practical work and had the chance to assist doctors in theatres. I assisted with numerous C-sections - it's quite nerve-wrecking but all you have to do is keep your cool.”


Practicals

During her fifth year she was sent to the North as part of her practical training. It was quite an adjustment for her being so far away from home. “We did ward rounds with the doctors at the hospitals, which includes obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, psychology, surgery and internal medicine for five weeks each. The doctors tested our knowledge and also taught us.”

Chloé says she's not quite sure if she will specialise in obstetrics and gynaecology or paediatrics. She hopes that she will be able to make up her mind after the two-year internship.

She advises aspiring students to do research on a career choice while still at school and to choose their subjects accordingly. “Find out more about the specific subjects you like at school. If you wish to study medicine, you need to have a passion for it. If your only goal is to make money from it, you are making the wrong choice. The hours and amount of work you have to do daily is immense.”

She added that university applications are usually done with second trimester marks.

“Work hard. Don't give up and remember when you do get into university, the hard work does not stop. I was privileged to receive a full scholarship from Namsov to cover my six years of studies. Study hard to qualify for a bursary which lessens the financial burden on your parents. Utilise resources like the internet and especially YouTube.”


Support network

Chloé says she had a great support system in the form of her fellow students and her family in place and this contributed to her success. “I used to study alone while at school. At university I learned that a study group is more effective. Five brains are better than one when you're sharing information on study materials. During rotations at the hospital we would be in different groups and later shared notes on what to expect from the various doctors.”

Chloé's mother, Jacky, always encouraged her to keep on working hard as well as her sister Centaine. “She also graduated recently in marketing: brand communications in South Africa so we would complain to each other, but motivate each other at the same time. In the next five years I'll hopefully see myself specialise and start working in one of the hospitals in my hometown.”

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