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My Cardiff

Dr David Gwynfor Samuel

Dr David Gwynfor Samuel, a recent medical school graduate, reflects on how the University helped him achieve a life-long dream of becoming a doctor.

Dr David Gwynfor Samuel

Dr David Gwynfor Samuel

Having been born with a congenital deformity of my right leg, involving having only three toes, an absent fibula bone, half an ankle and an eight-inch shortening, I had always been part of the NHS as a patient. It was because of this that from an early age my ambition and passion was to become a doctor. I wanted to give something back for everything the NHS had given me. I also wanted to serve the people of Wales. This dream became reality when I came to Cardiff as a fresh-faced 18-year-old to study medicine. It had always been my dream to be a “Cardiff Medic” and after five years, I am not disappointed!

Although my leg has never stopped me achieving what I wanted to, the University was amazingly supportive in ensuring that it never impacted negatively on my studies. The School of Medicine even went to the trouble of allocating my clinical placements in local hospitals to allow me to attend hospital appointments, and there was never an occasion where I was refused time away from the wards to attend vital medical assessments. The flexibility of the University staff really is a credit to them and shows how they take the welfare of their students seriously.

During my time at Cardiff I felt that I was a member of a community within a community. The University has stunning surroundings, high quality teaching facilities and an outstanding sense of unity. From nights out in the students’ union, to varsity rugby matches to University choir events, my five years at Cardiff has been a compendium of happy memories intertwined with… hard work.

Attending Christmas dinners in the old rooms of Cardiff Castle and a summer ball with a fairground rides really does take some beating, as does the welcome and support that the students’ union has given me throughout the five years.

Some of the more memorable moments of my early years took place in the surrounding areas of Park Place. I spent my first year in Senghenydd Court, as it was the closest hall of residence to my lecture building. The University made sure that anything that could be done to ease me into University life with my disability would be done. Living in a Welsh-speaking flat was an added bonus in those first few weeks. The fact that Cardiff caters for the Welsh-speaking community is a tribute to its dedication to representing Wales. Overall, it was a fantastic experience.

The highlight of my time at Cardiff is probably becoming deputy chairperson of the British Medical Association students committee for the UK. However, this was only the end result of being part of the medical society, then becoming academic chair, followed by being elected Cardiff representative for the Association and then, as they say, the rest is history.

Mentoring school pupils has also been a real buzz for me as part of the University’s Widening Access team. I have a passion for ensuring that people from all walks of life can enter into their career of choice, irrespective of financial position or culture. I only hope that some of the pupils I have tutored will follow in my path as a Cardiff medical student.

One of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my five years has to be being part of the General Medical Council inspection student panel. Representing my medical school and facing questions on my course and quality of teaching by the Council rates up there amongst some of the tougher questions of my finals in terms of causing butterflies to flutter in the stomach.

The course at Cardiff has an excellent reputation and I hope that it has provided the grounding and foundation for a successful career as a doctor. It seems a long time since my first day at the University way back in 2003, when I trembled up the ramp of the School of Biosciences building to attend my first day in the dissection room. From there I have trodden the long path of medical training – from the Biosciences building to the Heath park campus, to hospitals right across Wales, but always with Cardiff close to my heart.

Even graduation day had a typically Cardiff Welsh flavour to it – the rain certainly reminded me that I will always be Welsh to the core. I sincerely believe that Cardiff will go from strength to strength and I hope that in 125 years time its reputation will be as high as ever. Diolch Prifysgol Caerdydd. Penblwydd Hapus!

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