Two sisters training as doctors together after being inspired by grandfather’s NHS experiences

Two young Sunderland sisters are making medicine a family affair by training to be doctors at the same medical school.

Lucy and Laura Giles, who are 18 and 21-years-old respectively are the first two youngsters from Southmoor Academy Sixth Form to land places at the School of Medicine, created by the University of Sunderland.

Laura – who was one of the first students to join the MBChB Medicine degree when it launched in 2019 is currently in her third year of studies, while her younger sister Lucy followed in her footsteps this term.

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The siblings both decided to pursue medical careers following their grandfather’s experiences as a stroke patient.

The support provided by the National Health Service (NHS) inspired them both to study in medicine, having each both had a keen interest in science prior.

Laura, said: “I have always loved the sciences and from a young age I was interested in working in the NHS.

“I completed my work experience at Sunderland Royal Hospital, which reinforced my desire to work in that field, and set my sights on applying to university.

“I was very keen to apply to local universities and as Sunderland Medical School was due to open in 2019, it automatically became my first choice.

“Although I received a number of offers to study medicine across the country, my passion was to work within the North East, where I grew up.

“Being at Sunderland Medical School will allow me to give back to the community I was raised in, hopefully working alongside doctors and medical staff at Sunderland Royal Hospital.

“My aim is to make other people better; I know you can’t fix everyone, but I can certainly try!”

Sisters Laura (left) & Lucy Giles (right)
Sisters Laura (left) & Lucy Giles (right)
(Image: David Wood)

As she has started her clinical placements, Laura will now work on various hospital wards over the course of the next three years – to better her experience in the field.

She will begin at North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust.

With her younger sister following suit, she expressed how proud she was at her work ethic and drive.

Laura continued: “Seeing Lucy in her first year makes me so proud, even if I hadn’t decided on a career in medicine, I know she still would have been here, she’s so dedicated to sciences and is so hardworking!”

The two sisters both accordingly studied A/AS Levels at Southmoor Academy in Biology, Chemistry and Maths – with Laura opting to go for an additional Art course, pursuing her creative talents.

It’s certainly an area she would love the opportunity to explore, as she considers her future career path as a surgeon.

Having attended an Open Day at the University of Sunderland, Lucy was incredibly impressed by the range of new facilities and friendly staff around campus.

Her sister’s experiences throughout university also inspired her to follow suit, and secure her place at the University of Sunderland.

Lucy said “I am really enjoying the course so far,” adding: “I am really keen to learn more about the subject each week.”

“My favourite part of the course so far is anatomy.

Sunderland University in Sunderland City Centre
Sunderland University in Sunderland City Centre
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

“It is extremely useful having my sister Laura on the same course as she has already been through it therefore knows what is expected.

“If I haven’t been sure about a specific area Laura has been able to give me some support and reassurance.

“It’s also useful being able to ask for advice on revision techniques and how much to revise.”

Understandably, the girls’ parents are incredibly proud of what their daughters have achieved thus far, and are excited to see where the future takes them.

Lucy added: “They (our parents) have witnessed how challenging and difficult it has been to get into medicine and also all the hard work we had to do.

“They were absolutely over the moon when we both received offers for Sunderland.

“They are so excited to see what the future holds for us.”

Head of School of Medicine and Professor of General Practice and Primary Care at Sunderland, Professor Scott Wilkes, said: “It’s lovely to see the two sisters thriving in our new medical school.

“Laura is our first local applicant from Sunderland, won the Head of School’s gold medal being top in the first-year knowledge exams and I know that both sisters are very competitive.

“I am certain that Laura was an instrumental role model for her sister Lucy who comes with equal academic excellence. I can only imagine how proud the sisters’ parents and grandparents must feel because I feel that too.

“Together and with many more of their cohort, they will inspire others to believe that they can achieve their dreams and more than that, inspire our graduates to work in our wonderful, developing city and the North East.”

The medical school at the University of Sunderland was launched in 2019, and was one of just five medical schools to receive Government backing in 2018.

It was founded under strict guidance from Keele University’s School of Medicine, and it one of 33 schools across the United Kingdom.

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Chronicle Live – Sunderland