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Combining Medicine and High-Level Sport

Updated: May 31, 2020

By Nesta Baxter

' So, why do you want to do medicine?'. This is probably the most commonly asked question in the preparation for and during medical school. Well for me, I would like to make an impact, challenge myself and help others by using my love and interest for science. These are also the same reasons why I continue to do sport at a high level.

I have been kickboxing since the age of four and a member of Team GB in the sport of WAKO Kickboxing for the last seven years. I am currently ranked World Number 1 in my division of Light Continuous -60kg Senior Female Kickboxing, at the age of 20. Alongside this, I am also a third-year medical student at Newcastle University. If you were to ask me which I was prouder of, I would be unable to pick.

For me, I love the interaction with patients and other professionals which medicine brings. Working with a team of people to achieve an improved outcome for a patient is one of my favourite parts of studying medicine, and hopefully becoming a doctor in the future. This is what originally attracted me to the idea of studying medicine, as it allowed me to use my interest in science in a positive way with direct patient interaction in a team environment.

Kickboxing is a sport that I love and I spend many hours perfecting just one technique or drill to be able to achieve my goals. I have travelled to many different countries competing against people from across the globe; one of my favourite parts of sports is being able to meet all of these different people with the same passion for sport. I also love seeing the next generation of kickboxers develop and work towards achieving their own goals within the sport. Being in the position to inspire others is an honour.

Studying medicine is by no means easy, it takes a lot of hours of dedication and commitment to your studies. This could be thought of as similar to pursuing sport at a high level. Therefore, the question I am most commonly asked is ‘how do you do both of these together?’. The simplest answer to that is that you need to love what you are doing in both aspects, and that way you will make it work.

If you are considering studying medicine or you are already studying medicine and are wishing to continue to grow and achieve in high level sport, here are some of my tips that currently work for me:

1. Have a plan!

This may sound really basic and obvious but it really does work. If you can plan your work ahead, you will suddenly find spare pockets of time for sport.

2. Be time efficient!

Try not to waste time, in the periods where you have planned to study. If you are disciplined, then this will allow you to be flexible, henceforth you will achieve your weekly goals faster than anticipated.

3. Set your goals!

Know what you want to achieve both in the short term and in the long term. By having set out your goals, you will be able to better organise your schedule and find that your motivation will improve dramatically.

4. Use your University to help!

Contact your university and see how they can help. Most universities will love to have a high-level sports athlete as one of their students and are more than willing to help. This could be a scholarship scheme, funding, additional training support, a mentor to help with studies.

5. Enjoy what you’re doing!

This is the most important tip above all. It’s not the winning or the achievements that you need to enjoy, but the day to day lifestyle which combining medicine and high-level sport brings. If you enjoy every moment of it, then you will have more motivation and focus and so will find combining the two easy.

Many people will tell you that it is not possible to continue sport and study medicine. However, if you love the sport you’ve been doing through your school years, then why stop at medical school? Even if you do not continue to such a high level, sport is so important as a stress relief from the many hours of studying required. Combining medicine and high-level sport is possible with focus, dedication, organisation and the motivation to achieve your goals.

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