A doctor from the island feels there should be better access to support for aspiring healthcare professionals.

Dr Alexander Irving, from Douglas, has a medical degree and a Master of Public Health degree.

In August, the 24-year-old will be taking up an academic foundation post as a doctor in Glasgow, which will be themed towards neurosurgery.

Having gone through the process of applying for medical school and now being well on his way to a career in neurosurgery, Dr Irving feels there could have been better access to support and training in the island.

Born and raised in the island, Dr Irving attended Ballakermeen High School, which was where he decided he wanted to pursue medicine.

However, during this time he faced a number of significant barriers in applying.

‘There’s a lot of people who aspire to be doctors and medical practitioners, particularly on the island, and there’s not as much access to support,’ he said. ‘This is especially if you’re not at a private school and there’s not as many support systems in place to prepare you to get in.

‘What I found when I got into medical school was my colleagues had multiple doctors in their family or had gone to private school where they’d been prepared with interviews and had 10 or so people applying and all of them getting more advice.

‘I think more could be done on island to facilitate people who are interested in healthcare careers. There’s more support that could be given to people.’

He added: ‘With nursing and a few other careers that can be trained on island it’s not so much the case, but with medicine and physio etc people do need to apply to go to university in the UK.

‘It’s difficult to get the experience on island to prepare you for that.

‘There’s UK schemes that are starting to help with that, such as a website that outreaches to students who are in this position now.’

Dr Irving explained his year in school didn’t receive many career talks from healthcare professionals and suggested that could be addressed if it hasn’t already.

‘A few months after that, through one of my parents’ friends, they said their daughter was desperately looking for help and I ended up helping her through that way rather than going through the school,’ he said. ‘She eventually got in and she said it helped knowing someone who had had the experience as well.

‘There’s a number of different steps to the application process. A lot of the information you find online can be a bit of an echo chamber as well because it can be put on a bit of a pedestal. Other people can make it feel insurmountable.

‘Maybe there’s some gaps there, so you need people explaining what medical professionals do and what these careers actually involve.’

While there is work experience available in the Isle of Man, namely at Noble’s Hospital, Dr Irving says his experience of it was ‘a struggle’.

He added: ‘It does seem a bit few and far between. It very much depends on the organisation at that point as a lot of people missed out on that during Covid.

‘I’m not sure what the situation is with that at the moment but I know I personally struggled with it.

‘It takes a while for doctors to get training and even then it’s 10 years postgraduate that you do start thinking about coming back to the island most of the time because you can’t really get the training on the island to get specialised.’

The Manxman continued: ‘A few years after that I messaged one of the medical school coordinators and they sorted me out with a place in the surgical department. The teaching in Noble’s was really, really good.

‘It’s a good place for students to go, so I think there’s quite a few students who go through Noble’s.

‘Once you’re in, there’s plenty of support in place but it’s just got barriers at first that are confusing and aren’t totally necessary, I would say.’

Manx Care and the Department of Health and Social Care were contacted for comment but didn’t reply before the Examiner’s deadline.