Scholar Alumnus – Josh Drinkwater

Published: 8 Jan 2018

Swindon Scholar Josh Drinkwater recently became the first from his school, Lydiard Park Academy Sixth Form, to go on to study Medicine at university. Having completed his first term at Bristol University, Josh now looks back on a host of great achievements since he first joined the Scholars Programme in 2013.

Medicine has always been a passion for Josh. From becoming a first-aider for his school, as well as organising a ‘Heart Day’ which crowdfunded £1,400 to purchase a defibrillator for his school, to volunteering each week at his local hospital for a year, Josh has taken every opportunity to learn new skills to help others.

“I worked Monday evenings at the Great Western Hospital on the Jupiter Ward. Here, I worked with dementia patients and began looking at art therapy. This involved painting or drawing with some individuals, which helped me to develop a relationship with some of them. It was quite heart-warming when a dementia patient would remember your name, or even what you had spoken about the week before. In my volunteer work, I observed doctor-patient relationships that I could discuss in my tutorials at university, as well as how the different professionals work on a ward”.

In his journey towards studying medicine, Josh also made good use of the opportunities provided by the Scholars Programme, attending his local Villiers Park Medical Society every year, “MedSoc gave me further opportunities to explore the career I see myself in, by providing more personal advice”.

Josh attributes much of his work ethic and enthusiasm for learning to his time as a Scholar, “Before I joined the programme, I would say I was in ‘cruise control’. I would complete my homework but never really excel myself. When I joined the programme, it introduced me to making school challenging, in a good way! In Year 10, my Learning Mentor introduced me to how reading around a subject could further your knowledge, which would benefit me in the future for medicine interviews.

“My teachers would always bring up in parent’s evenings about some of the questions I would ask in class, clearly gained from the extra work and reading I was doing. The workshops also gave me guidance on revision skills, time management tips and how to work in a team, which was important for group work projects at school”.

When faced with some difficult challenges as he moved onto his A-levels, Josh again found great support from his Villiers Park Learning Mentor in helping him focus his studies, “My mentor kept pushing me and suggested newer and more effective ways of studying. Through the help of Villiers Park and my teachers, I highlighted my key issues, addressed them and then went on to achieve my grades and secure my place at university.” 

Josh also found ways to support his teachers and peers alongside his own studies, by helping to organise revision around exam times via an online form, “During school, I found that teachers were particularly stressed around Easter time in preparation for exam revision. I suggested designing an electronic form for students to sign up on at home, which would automatically sort out class lists and registers to save teachers stress and time. This was a success, and I did it for three years”

Having achieved the necessary grades, Josh was soon excited to begin the next step of his journey at university, “I was not expecting to be accepted into university for this year, but I was over the moon and delighted … I am the first of not only my immediate family, but the whole of my family, to go to university, so this is a brand new experience not just for me, but also my parents and other relatives!”

For anyone considering studying medicine, Josh has created a blog tracking his progress into the industry, hoping to inspire and help others to succeed, “The one thing I noticed in my preparation for writing my personal statement was the lack of medical student ‘stories’ I could follow. I was really intrigued about when we would be handling cadavers, visiting patients, first taking blood etc., but felt this was very limited online. So I will be completing a blog alongside my journey into medicine so that I can help other students who were once in my shoes”.

After a very successful four years Josh summarises how Villiers Park has helped him achieve his best, “I would not be the person I am without Villiers Park, and I certainly wouldn’t be studying at my university right now. I feel like Villiers Park has allowed me to accomplish everything I’ve wanted to do from Year 10 and onwards. Thank you all”.