Grace Barnes main contentCongratulations to Grace Barnes (Medicine, 2013) for winning the Clinical School Year 4 Practice Essay Prize.

While she was on her GP placement in South Wales in Michaelmas term, Grace was given the opportunity to take an extended history and get a more comprehensive understanding of one patient and their medical problems. Rather than briefly asking about current issues in a ten-minute consultation, she visited the home of one of the surgery’s younger patients and learned more about his medical history by talking to his family and some of the medical professionals involved in his care.

Grace says: ‘In my essay I discussed some of the health challenges he had faced, and the wider social issues and psychological impact certain aspects may have had both on him, and his family. I also asked about how the family felt about the healthcare they had received; what doctors and nurses had done well, and what they thought could be improved upon.  

‘In my reflection at the end of the essay, I summarised the key characteristics of a doctor that the patient and their family had described, and some of the social implications of certain aspects of healthcare that might not be immediately obvious in the hospital setting. I want to use this experience to shape my future practice in trying to be the best doctor for my patients.’

Dr Helen Ashdown, Somerville’s Lecturer in Medicine and Grace’s tutor, says: ‘She specifically asked to do her GP rotation in the fairly deprived post-industrial area of Wales she grew up in and around (whereas most students take pot luck of where they are assigned), and her essay had a really nice focus on the relevance of geographical/socioeconomic aspects of healthcare/illness, which I thought was particularly good, as well as being extremely well written.’

Grace is in her fourth year and will remain at Somerville for two more years before she sits her finals and qualifies as a doctor. ‘I’m really enjoying clinical medicine overall and haven’t decided on a speciality yet,’ she says. ‘I’ve still got a few different placements ahead of me and opportunities to try other branches of medicine before I have to pick. I’d like to be involved in research alongside my clinical work in the future, as I really enjoyed completing a research project for my intercalated degree last year.’

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