Maitane Alonso Monasterio, the winner of the 2023 ‘Best Student’ Award in Valencia, talk about her experience at the ESMO Course in Medical Oncology for Medical Students.
What was your main reason for applying to join the course?
From my earliest recollections, I have always dreamt about becoming an oncologist. It was this dream what propelled me towards studying medicine. However, over the course of my years as a medical student, opportunities for meaningful engagement with medical oncology were exceedingly limited. I am firmly convinced that comprehensive instruction in medical oncology should be offered to every student. Such instruction not only imparts extensive knowledge of medical intricacies but also imparts invaluable lessons pertaining to the values of medicine and its inherent human dimension.
What was your take home message from the four days?
When queried about a potential deterrent to selecting medical oncology as a career path, the Professors, upon deep reflection, responded with a resounding assertion: "I am hard-pressed to identify one." Medical oncology has undergone an astonishing metamorphosis in recent years, particularly in the realm of research. Yet, amidst these changes, a constant endures: the human dimension and the ardor that accompany it. This revelation has profoundly stirred my inspiration, rekindling the very motivation that compelled me to embrace the field of medicine.
Why are you interested in medical oncology?
Upon my enrollment in university, I initially believed that my reason for selecting the medical field was centered on the pursuit of research and innovation. However, a pivotal moment remains etched in my memory—the day I was first introduced to the domain of medical oncology. Astonishingly, it was not the groundbreaking research, which I hold in the highest regard, that left me spellbound. It was the doctor’s compassionate demeanor, the capacity for care. On that particular day, an epiphany materialized: my lifelong aspiration was not rooted in invention, but in the provision of care to others. To me, this embodiment of humaneness defines our essence, and I can only aspire to fulfill this calling for the duration of my existence.
How do you feel about having a professional society, such as ESMO, supporting you in your professional development?
I have always believed that within each individual resides a “small researcher”. If we observe children, they never stop asking questions. However, as the years unfold, boundaries begin to manifest, and gradually they start losing their inquisitive nature. At this juncture, the provision of support and guidance becomes imperative to ensure that the flame of curiosity never wanes. For what truly constitutes research, if not the persistent pursuit of questions aimed at constructing a more promising tomorrow? I am beyond grateful for the endorsement extended to me by a distinguished organization such as ESMO. I can only hope that one day I might reciprocate this by supporting forthcoming generations, ensuring their perpetual engagement in the act of inquiry, so that they, too, shall never stop asking questions.
Would you recommend this course and why?
This course has bestowed upon me an opportunity of transformative proportions, one that I ardently advocate. It encompasses not solely an indelible encounter from which you will amass a wealth of medical erudition; but also an immersive foray into this gratifying specialization and the privilege of acquainting yourself with a multitude of like-minded spirits and remarkable individuals, all bound by a mutual ardor for medical oncology. This convergence of minds has served to fortify my hope for the times ahead. At present, my passion burns more fervently than ever before.