Medical student is keeping her options open
Ceola Wade doesn’t yet know in which direction her medical studies will take her, but she’s grateful for the $20,000 that will help her along.
The 31-year-old received the Donald P. Lines Scholarship from the Centennial Bermuda Foundation this summer.
The funds will go towards her courses at the University of Exeter in Devon, England.
Numerous healthcare assistance jobs had been helping her to pay the tuition. The financial award will allow her to “work for enjoyment” rather than working “to survive”.
It’s a big difference from the past three years. Ms Wade was in her first year of medical school when Covid-19 was labelled a pandemic.
In those early days she was one of many medical students drafted in to help at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
“I floated all over the hospital, wherever was needed,” Ms Wade said.
She held the hands of women when their partners weren’t allowed in the maternity ward. She also helped Covid-19 patients in the intensive care unit.
To preserve her mental health, she cycled and walked.
“I have learnt over the years that even though I am in these experiences, it is not my relative or family member that is unwell,” she said. “I don’t bring every death and experience home but Covid-19 was a lot harder than the normal time at work.”
At the moment she is undecided whether to continue with the bachelor of medicine or the bachelor of surgery programme.
“You learn a bit of both and then when you go into training you decide which pathway to go down,” she said. “Because we have just started clinical years we rotate through loads of different specialities. I am starting in mental health and then I am going into paediatrics and women’s health. I am keeping my options open, at the moment.”
A year ago she started working at His Majesty’s Prison Exeter which proved less stressful and more structured than her hospital duties.
“In a prison there are prison guards, police and rules,” she said.
“The prisoners were actually pretty polite, saying ‘Good morning miss’, ‘Good morning ma’am’ as I went by. The staff kept asking me if I was comfortable.”
It took her a while to learn the rules and ways of the prison. Now she helps to distribute medications, does mental health checks and supports the medical team.
“I do shifts around my university studies,” she said.
“But I want to come back to Bermuda to work. I don’t know the differences between the prison system in Bermuda and the UK.”
Ms Wade — one of the triplets born to Frederick Wade, the late leader of the Progressive Labour Party, and his wife, Ianthia, now an MP for the governing party — is working towards her third degree. She obtained her first, in global health, in 2012.
She spent a few years doing different jobs — cake decorating, dog walking and diabetes and nutrition education — before she was hired as a healthcare assistant in a hospital in Bristol.
She then earned a degree in medical sciences. In 2017, she won the Donald P. Lines Scholarship for the first time.
Nearing 30, she decided if she was truly interested in medical school it was time to get cracking.
Ms Wade is not exactly sure where the interest in medicine came from but when she was little she often helped her mother when she was administrator at Summerhaven Residential Home.
She was 13 when she started volunteering with the Bermuda Hospitals Board. Her first proper job in healthcare was working for the late ophthalmologist Leonard Teye-Botchway.
“I thought this one speciality has so much going on, I wonder what else is out there,” she said. “Then I started getting different jobs in healthcare.”
The British National Health Service has been an eye-opener for her. She has been surprised by how people in England will go to the emergency room for minor problems such as a headache or fever.
“In Bermuda, I don’t think a lot of people would come to emergency with a temperature,” she said. “We have to weigh up the financial side of medicine before we go to the emergency room.”