Profile: Holly Digne-Malcolm
Holly (2011, B.M. B.Ch Medicine) is a Junior Clinical Fellow in Paediatric Surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital. While at Univ, she rowed with UCBC and had her research published in Frontiers in Physiology.
Why did you apply for medicine?
I enjoyed most things at school, but was enthralled learning about how the human body worked down to a cellular level. The overlap between chemistry, physics, and biology fascinated me and I was keen to understand how we function from a molecular level up! I was lucky enough to spend some time in Malta shadowing a family friend who was a GP there and then observing life in the hospital on the medical wards and in theatre. While this probably did not give me a huge amount of insight into life as a doctor, I loved being in the hospital environment and was amazed by the work I saw and my decision was made.
Why did you choose Oxford? Why Univ?
Oxfords reputation precedes it, and felt like a far-off dream when thinking about university choices. I looked at the course details of medicine at many different places, but was really drawn into the unashamed scientific focus of the Oxford course, more so than any others. There were a couple of things that sold Univ to me as the college I wanted to apply to: students came as part of an outreach project to my school and took the time to speak to us about college life and the realities of studying at Oxford. They were very friendly and approachable. I then visited Oxford on an open day and spent the day with my sister wandering around a selection of colleges. All those we looked into were very beautiful, but there was huge variation in how welcome we were made to feel at each. Univ of course was as welcoming as ever and we had a tour of the college being given various facts about Percy (the tortoise and the statue) and croquet.
Do you think your involvement in extracurricular activities helped balance the pressures of your degree?
Absolutely! I think it was really important to start off my degree alongside novice rowing, so that, from the outset, I was used to making time to include sport. Being part of UCBC is definitely a University highlight for me: being out on the beautiful Isis, bonding with crew members over the pain of ergs, crew pasta, and crew dates, and UCBC camaraderie culminating of course in Summer Eights celebrations.
How did you find the transition to clinical school?
The start of clinical school is like starting a whole new degree course. For the first time we were introduced to the hospital and to patients – a pretty fundamental part of medicine to graduate as a doctor! It was also a time to really get to know the other medics in my year across all colleges, through being on placements together and through Osler House social calendar. I loved the change of structure to being more hands-on and experience based – medical conditions and their presentations take on a whole new meaning and level of importance when speaking people who can describe it first-hand. The transition to Univ graduate community was also good fun. The graduate community is hugely diverse and I made good friends from my 4th year at Univ who I am still in touch with today.
Have you encountered any challenges in your first few years as a doctor?
One of the most challenging things in life as a doctor is prioritisation. This is magnified on shifts overnight when there are fewer doctors around in the hospital and all the wards you are covering contact you by bleep. This results in a constant re-evaluation of where to be focusing time and energy, and also management of ward expectations and seeking help when needed. I remember in my first year as a doctor receiving back-to-back bleeps overnight about multiple patients. I found that gathering as much information from the nurses over the phone as possible was crucial in deciding where to go first and initiating management in some cases.
What is your proudest achievement to date?
I am proud of a lot of things in my life. It is easy to lose perspective of achievements as more challenges and goals emerge. I feel proud to have the close friends that I do, and proud to feel that I am continually developing as a person, trying to minimise bias and being open to fresh perspectives.
Describe Univ in three words.
Welcoming, beautiful, encouraging.
How do you feel about the celebration of 40 years of women at Univ?
It is so important to recognise how far society has moved towards equality. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to pursue my interests without obstacle, and within such an amazing place full of inspirational people. It is easy to take for granted both the academic and sporting opportunities I have been able to enjoy, but this would not have been possible without the hard work of my female predecessors closing the gap to equality. I have met some exceptional people during my time at Univ and am so pleased to be able to celebrate these people regardless of gender. I recently attended a conference entitled “Women in Surgery: Lift as you Climb”, which highlighted that we still have a way to go to achieve gender equality. Institutions like Univ accepting women as academic equals was a huge step forward and rightly should be recognised.
Women at Univ 2019. Celebrating 40 years of achievement by women students, academics and staff, and recovering the history of women in the College from 1249 to the present day.