Shiwei Leeds medicine student

Shiwei Ooi

What made you choose the course at Leeds?

I first heard about Leeds through researching the top universities to study Medicine and found Leeds to be one of the best in the world. Upon further research, I discovered that Leeds is a Russell Group University, renowned for the quality of their research for I am keen on.

I liked how the course allows students to take up an intercalated degree (where you a take a year out of medicine to do a BSc or a MSc), allowing me to further my interest in Environmental Health. I also discovered how the Leeds University Union was the first students’ union in the UK to be awarded an ‘Excellent’ status by the National Union of Students (NUS) Quality Students’ Unions accreditation. I later discovered shortly after coming to Leeds, that they truly did live up to my expectations.


How have you found the support from staff around your studies?

The support available for us medical students is outstanding. Firstly, throughout medical school, you will be allocated to a personal tutor who’s usually a practicing clinician or a researcher in the field. Regular meetings are scheduled throughout the term where I was able to catchup with my tutors on how I was coping with my studies, support in writing personal testimonies or to simply have a friendly chat with a fellow medic.

The academic staff at the medical school also host regular year group meetings. This gives us an opportunity to come as a group and answer any queries we might have and also receive updates regarding the improvements the medical school has made from the frequent feedback we give them. I also found the Leeds University Union really helpful in providing support in terms of getting advice and also on improving my mental health. If I had any questions and was unsure of who to contact, emailing the LUU Help and advice email has always been helpful as they provide quick and effective advice. There are also many fun events such as pet therapy where you’re able to mingle with cute animals and even free yoga and meditation sessions to help me relax and take a break from a long day of studying.


What has been your impression of the teaching facilities at Leeds?

At Leeds, there are a wide array of teaching facilities. From Clinical support rooms with equipment ranging from blood glucose strips, venipuncture kits to ECG machines available for students to practice their skills on. Slots can be booked through a simple online system a few hours beforehand and you will be greeted by the wonderful clinical educators who will provide instructions and the equipment you need to practice the skill. At St. James’s Hospital, the Undergraduate Hub provides teaching spaces and access to variety of learning opportunities. There is a google drive on their website which includes PowerPoint presentations of important conditions and also useful OSCE scenarios. As exams season nears, there are often revision sessions where tutors will go through difficult topics we request which are always popular and I have found very beneficial. I personally really enjoyed the opportunity I had where a clinical educator was able to observe me carry out a history and exam with a patient on my ward. The one-to-one experience I received, with clear and instructive feedback I received from the clinical educator was invaluable to my learning experience.


How have you found your experience of placements?

Being on clinical placements has been a wonderful experience. In Years 1 and 2, it was great that I was able to receive such early clinical exposure where we were taught  basic skills such as taking temperature and blood pressure. I also got to understand how GP surgeries functioned through shadowing other healthcare professionals like pharmacists, phlebotomist, healthcare assistants and even registration staff to understand how the administration side of a GP worked. In the clinical years, where students spent most of their time on placements, I found myself in a place of limitless opportunities. Majority of the time, you will be shadowing a doctor, working along side them, helping them complete jobs such as taking bloods, doing ECGs and even clerking new patients in - truly fundamental skills of a good doctor.

I have also gained massive support form other healthcare professionals such as receiving informative teaching from a physician associate on skin tumours on my Dermatology placements to a student nurse teaching me to take a blood glucose reading from a patient. It is honestly the best feeling when you know you are part of a working team who trusts you and is centred on delivering the best care possible to their patients. The patients on placements are also very supportive throughout. They never fail to give me a kind smile of encouragement whenever I fumble upon my words while taking histories and are very kind to allow us students to carry out examinations for us to enhance our OSCE examining skills. 


Which aspects of Medicine have you found the most interesting so far and do you have any early sense of which field you'd like to move into?

I think I found the research opportunities available to us even from such early years excellent! The medical school has a life-long  learning module called RESS which builds basic research skills in the early years and using the spiral curriculum, enhancing the complexity of our research skills.

From day 1 of medical school, we were taught skills from the different styles of referencing, the format in which you have to write your references to how to access books and articles in the library and also on Medline - skills I was unaware of before coming to medical school, now seemed effortless to execute. And up to 3rd year at this point, we are taught to create a project proposal for an audit-cum-service evaluation in hopes of building our fundamental research skills, to carry out our elective project in 5th year. In hospitals, I was lucky to have had the opportunity to come across great supervisors who have given me the opportunity to assist them in conducting several audits which I hope will get published soon.

There are also societies like LEADERS (Leeds Academic Development, Education and Research Society) where it host regular events from “Research for dummies” to great summer schools where you’ll be able to present posters and meet students with the passion for research all across the UK!


Shiwei is also a Link to Leeds ambassador for Malaysia, read more about her experiences as an international student at Leeds or get in touch via her Link to Leeds profile.