I am a Medical student whose course is usually 5 years, however as part of this you have the option to do an extra year where you join the final year of a Biomedical sciences degree, in my case this meant I joined the Neuroscience course. I am now in the final year of said course, after which I will rejoin the medical degree in the 4th out of 5th year.
I chose to intercalate to build my research skills, after qualifying as a doctor you have to readily engage with scientific literature so as to make evidence based decisions; I felt doing the Neuroscience degree would enhance my ability to do this. Furthermore, you can also do part time doctor and part time research, which is something I might consider when older, doing an Intercalated degree in Neuroscience gave me experience in how research is conducted, helping me decide if this is something I’d wish to pursue in the future.
I chose Neuroscience as Neurology is the branch of medicine I am most interested in. Therefore I wanted to opportunity to enhance my knowledge on novel research in this field, as a consequence my favourite module has been the Advanced Topics module where you got the freedom to choose which lecture series to attend based on your interests, this allowed me to enhance my knowledge on novel research in neurodegeneration- something that heavily links to my past as a medical student.
I found out about the intercalated degree as the medical school actively promotes it; with the aim of encouraging students to develop their research skills and pursue a topic of interest.
I chose the University of Leeds because it is a prestigious research-focussed academic hub of excellence. The University Union is one of the best in the country, in this regard it is great to have so many food outlets, shops and bars in the centre of campus. Furthermore, the University readily hosts seminars for expert lecturers visiting from other academic institutions; recently I attended a talk on spinal cord repair using stem cells from a leading professor in that field. I found this to be a great opportunity to advance my academic knowledge.
The city itself also has a rich culture, is great for nightlife and short distance from many beautiful locations. One prime example of the latter is Ilkley Moor, a short 20 minute drive from Leeds and an ideal location for Hikes. I also recently ran the Leeds 10k Abbey Dash for Age UK; hosted annually every year. Perhaps demonstrating what a vibrant city Leeds is.
My favourite modules have been Advanced topics in Neuroscience. These are modules where researchers from the University of Leeds give talks on their topic of interest. There is a huge plethora of talks offered, and the choice of which ones you attend is yours; meaning you’re allowed a great sense of freedom in deciding which topics you want to advance your knowledge in.
I recently completed an 8 week period of data collection in the lab for my dissertation. I really enjoyed using state of the art microscopes to visualise the brains of diabetic rats; from this I got a huge sense of gratification as I felt like I was contributing to research. Equally, I was also able to witness the brain surgery on said rats by my supervisor, this helped me understand the different skills that research requires and informed me of the ethical considerations involved in the humane treatment of research animals. After the 8 weeks I was able to collate all my data into figures for presentation; I found this to be a great opportunity to indulge my creative side and develop my ability to present results in an engaging way; a skill I will absolutely use in the future.
For the past 3 years I have been a member of the Medics and Dentist Hockey club; meaning I attend training sessions on Fridays and occasionally play matches against other universities on weekends.
Recently, my fellow students elected me as their careers representative on the Medical Student Representative Council (MSRC) for the following academic year. This role will involve me helping to organise an elective event for the final year Medical students and being a source of contact for any students wanting help with careers advice or CV building.
Furthermore, every Thursday the members of MSRC meet for a discussion on current medicals school and wider university issues; the results of said discussion are then fed back to the university.
I was also chosen to be a student ambassador for the University last September, during this I had to promote the University to members of the public; a skill I am now well-versed in.
Studying an intercalated Neuroscience degree has dramatically improved my ability to engage with scientific research. This has been complementary to my future career as a doctor, in which I will have to readily engage with research to make evidence-based decisions.