Paula is a hard-working student behind the creation of X in the Lab, a project on instagram dedicated to informing her audience about important medical and health topics. Paula is a science-focused student in Spain dedicated to becoming a surgeon and giving us all the motivation to reach our dreams too.
Pat: What does a typical day in the life look like for you?
Paula: Depending on the day I have more or less things, but I usually have a pretty busy day. I wake up everyday at 7 am and take advantage of that time before school to revise and study for exams I have during the day. I go to class and spend about six hours there. Most of the days I don’t have lunch because all my exams are in the afternoon. When I get out of exams it is always so stressful so I walk home from school and take a nap or study for more exams.
Pat: Have you always known you wanted to pursue medicine and become a surgeon? Was there any specific person or event that influenced you?
Paula: I would not say there was a specific person that made me go like ‘Oh I want to do medicine because of this person.’ I do think I have been kind of influenced because I have a doctor in my family; my aunt is a surgeon and I discovered a bit more behind the lifestyle of going into medicine. Apart from that I just always knew that I wanted to be a doctor.
Pat: I know that it's tough work to become an aspiring surgeon, how do you stay motivated and prevent overworking in your studies?
Paula: Well, I overwork a lot. There are a lot of times I have to study and I’m like I have to do better and keep studying. This field of health and all that is a very demanding career and it's a very very long journey. I feel like a lot of students, including myself, think that we are not going to make it unless we are well-rounded students. Everything has to be a 10, everything has to be perfect, but I think the important thing to remember is that not everything really does have to be perfect and it’s okay to do what you want when you really need to.
Pat: What is the inspiration behind X in the lab?
Paula: I created X in the Lab when I got out of a very big biology test and I was super stressed. I was walking on the street and thinking about how much stuff I knew about science because everyday all my classes are very science-focused. I know for a fact that a lot of people don’t have this opportunity of learning at such a level. I’ve always been very active, participating, and creating projects. You know, those clubs nobody wants to go to when school is over, I go to them. It’s super important for building yourself. I decided to create my own project where if anybody just goes on their phone they can learn basic things in medicine that I think are pretty useful.
Pat: How has the creation of X in the lab affected your life? Do you find yourself more involved in the scientific community now?
Paula: Yeah, apart from medicine I always loved to write and once I started X in the Lab I dedicated all my free time to just this project. I have a lot of classmates that were like that's a lot of work apart from the normal schoolwork, you are adding more work and I was like well for me it's not working because when I am doing it I'm both learning and teaching people about important things that I like. For me, I don't consider it to be work but do it in my free time to enjoy it.
Pat: I saw that you wrote an article about Elizabeth Blackwell, in what ways do you think that being a woman in this medical field influences your motivation and challenges?
Paula: I feel like if I were a man I would be the same interested in medicine, but being a woman adds that thing of being a woman in science, even more motivation for reaching my goals. For example, in my class there are around 30 people in my class with most of the people being boys. I see that there are way more boys than girls in scientific fields and so being a girl interested in pursuing science really adds a lot of motivation in doing that.
Pat: I also saw that you have a podcast for X in the Lab, what kinds of things do you discuss in it? How did you know you wanted to create a podcast?
Paula: Actually its funny, one day I was on youtube and I saw a lot of people with podcasts so I thought why not an X in the Lab podcast. I started researching more stuff about podcasting. When I created my podcast I had to decide whether to do it the easy way, Spanish, or English. With English I can reach more people because at the end of the day my main goal is to teach as many people as possible. The main shared language on my instagram is English and so because most of my audience speaks it on there, I decided to make my podcast more Spanish-focused. The podcast is more so to give my Spanish audience what they are missing on instagram.
Pat: What are some of your hobbies and passions outside of science?
Paula: I would say playing the piano, writing, and reading.
Pat: How do you blend your interests in medicine and writing together?
Paula: My writing was super different before I created the project. Before that it was more poetry and novels, but when I created X in the Lab, it was more posts, descriptions, and articles. I feel the style I do the most now is articles about medical content of my project [X in the Lab].
Pat: Do you have any advice for somebody interested in entering the medical field?
Paula: I know it’s super easy to say, but chase your dreams and never get lost in everything. I know for a fact that when you are there inside everything you don’t realize and you get lost on like where did I, why am I here. Remember why you like medicine, what inspires you, and go for it.
Pat: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Paula: As you know, medicine is such a long career so I will probably still be studying. In the future, I want the typical dream job, which in my case would be a surgeon in cardiology, probably have a family, live in a nice place...you know, the typical.
Pat: What is the best piece of advice you have gotten so far?
Paula: I feel like having a circle that supports you is super important for students studying hard careers. I don’t know what I would do without my circle which is made of my parents right now. They have always been there and they are the ones that actually remind me why I am doing everything. They give me motivation most of the time. As I said before, when you're there it's difficult to give yourself the support and motivation you need to continue. My dad once told me that medicine is a long long journey. It’s like a marathon and most of the time the most clever and intelligent one, sprinting at the start, does not win, but the one who is always working and putting in the effort is the one who can actually reach the goal.
Pat: That’s all, it was very nice to meet you and thank you for coming to speak with me.
Paula: It was my pleasure.
Check out more from Paula and X in the Lab on instagram here!