The first question a lot of people ask me when I say that I’m studying medicine is “What kind of doctor are you going to be?”. For some of my classmates this question is easily answered. They’re sure that they want to be GPs, general surgeons, neurologists, pathologists etc. but as for me, I still can’t decide. The great thing about medicine is the many areas that you can choose to specialise in once qualified. I have found a few fields that don’t particularly excite me but there are currently still so many that I find interesting.

In the past I always thought that paediatrics was the only speciality for me. I love working with children and am a qualified Montessori teacher. I later started to think of obstetrics and gynaecology as a really interesting field too. The area of infertility treatments in particular is fascinating and unfortunately the need for it is growing. These were my two main contenders. Then I went to a talk organised by UCD’s Surgical Society early last year and it threw everything up in the air. Suddenly surgery, an area that I had never really considered, was proving very appealing and kept me awake that night. My head was unexpectedly filled with a myriad of new choices.

In late spring of this year the school of medicine sent us a link to a conference that was happening in Glasgow in September. The conference was hosted by the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE). Interventional Radiology was an area that I had only ever heard of in-passing and so I set out to research it a little more.  It is a field of medicine that uses radiological imaging techniques to perform pinhole (not even keyhole!) surgeries. It is an emerging field in medicine and I find it fascinating. CIRSE offered the first two-hundred students a generous grant to attend the conference so I signed up without a second thought.


CIRSE full length

Five of my classmates and I attended along with a group from UCD’s undergraduate medical programme. On top of the grant CIRSE also offered us a dedicated student lounge, free lunches, specialised student lectures, and brilliant hands-on workshops. We all learnt so much at the conference, not only about interventional radiology as a field, but about other general areas of medicine especially trauma and cardiovascular care.

CIRSE 2014


The CIRSE conference has really made me consider interventional radiology as a career. I find it remarkable that surgeries that once required comparatively large incisions to be made can now be done with only pinhole sized access. I love the logic of using the vessels of the body like pre-existing train tracks; moving along them rather than artificially accessing organs and vessels, all while using radiological techniques to visualise your pathway. Interventional radiology is used to unblock arteries, to strengthen weak vessels, to target tumours directly, to deliver medications precisely where they need to be, among so many other uses. It takes my newly discovered love for surgery and brings it, I feel, into the future.

Hands-on workshop

I’m still not 100% sure what speciality I would like to end up in. I don’t want to nail my colours to any mast in particular until I have experienced them at least during my clinical years of medicine here in UCD. I feel that at this stage in my education it would be foolish to rule out every area bar one when there is so much that interests me. I always say that while paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, and now interventional radiology all appeal to me, I can’t guarantee that I won’t discover a real love for kidneys, lungs, geriatrics, oncology or something entirely different.  I will continue to answer the “What kind of doctor are you going to be?” question with uncertainty but I feel that having this much choice can only be a positive thing!