María Barcenilla

María Barcenilla: “There are very well trained doctors in Spain”

María Barcenilla is a student of Medicine at the Autonomous University of Madrid and has visited the facilities of Medlab Media Group. The future healthcare provider has analyzed the situation of Medicine from the point of view of a student about to finish her degree. 

Question: Why did you decide to study Medicine? 

Answer: I have always had very good grades and medicine has always been an option. Biology was one of my favourites and I have always liked science. Medicine was something I could achieve and be good at.

Then there’s the part where you can help people, although it hasn’t been my main vocation, obviously influenced my decision. However, I fundamentally chose medicine for knowledge of human biology and how the body works. 

Q: What speciality would you like to work in? 

A: Right now I’m between 2 specialities: Neurology and Otolaryngology. They are the ones I like the most, albeit there isn’t much to discover there.  

Degree in Medicine 

Q: Medicine has always been associated with the brightest students, so from the outside, it is often thought to be quite difficult. As a student, is it more complicated or, on the contrary, simpler than you imagined in the beginning? 

A: My university has a reputation for being tough hence students often fail. They don’t give you anything on a platter, you have to work hard and study diligently. But I feel I’ve done well. I don’t think it’s a superhuman effort. 

In fact, I think I studied more in school than I do now, but this is true for only me. I think, with hard work you can achieve anything you set your mind to. 

Q: What did you like the least about your career? Why? 

A: The first 3 years of training were my least favourite because we didn’t get to choose our own subjects. They are more generic (Biology, Physiology, Histology) and you don’t get hands-on clinical practice experience. 

The first few years you are studying something that is not what you want to dedicate yourself to because doctors do not end up being biochemists. In general, these three years are many students’ least favourite part of medical school. 

Q: And what else?

A: From third year onwards, you are familiar with subjects such as Neurology, Cardiology or some surgical ones. These are the subjects in which you really learn how to carry out your work. 

However, what I liked the most are the internships. Because in the end, studying in front of a book isn’t gratifying, albeit necessary. Being in the hospital and watching the doctors do their job and learning from the patients is the most rewarding thing. 

University Internships 

Q: One of the most surprising aspects of medicine is the dissection of corpses. What was your first reaction when you saw one? 

A: It was the first year of my degree, I had just arrived at the University. We went to the dissection room, the bodies were covered and no one had ever seen a corpse. However, I was not impressed at all because you depersonalize them and see them as another study instrument. 

Later, when you stop to think, you realize that it has been a person who has had a life. When you’re doing dissections or working, what matters to you is what you’re studying, that’s why, particularly, I didn’t have any emotional impact because it allowed me to know the human anatomy. 

Q: What technology do you use to develop your practices? On the other hand, how do you inform yourself about the advances in Medicine? 

A: As a student, I don’t use any particular technology as we are looking for information in the form of clinical trials. In addition, to access this technology, you need to have passwords, which can only be obtained when you are already a professional. 

That’s why, when you are a doctor, you visit such applications more frequently. Because you have a degree and access to certain things that you didn’t have when you’re a student. Since my focus is on studying, if I have a doubt, I resort to the internet or refer to my books. 

Medicine in Spain 

Q: What do you think of Spanish medicine? Do you think it can keep moving forward? 

A: Medicine is never going to finish its research. For example, Neurology interests me and it is a field that has yet to be fully explored. 

Very well trained doctors come out of Spain. The problem is how the situation is right now. There is a lot of research, very good heads and a lot of potential, but we don’t know how to exploit it. 

Q: More and more universities are offering the Degree of Medicine and, therefore, the number of aspirants to obtain a place in the Spanish Health Service is increasing. As a future professional and MIR candidate, how do you see this situation? 

A: Although each year more places are offered, they decrease proportionally because the number of applicants is greater. There are hospitals that are saturated with students. I’m at the Puerta de Hierro and there are so many of us here that sometimes it’s uncomfortable.