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Student View - Managing Medicine Multiple Mini Interviews

by YPU Admin on June 3, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology, BMH, interviews, medicine, MMIs, and student view

Introduction

And breathe. In through the nose and out through the mouth. That’s what I told myself as I stepped into the Stopford Building for the first time.

My name is Danish Hafeez, I’m a 4th Year medical student at the University of Manchester. I’m from London originally and the first time I’d ever been to Manchester was for my interview. It was my first medical school interview, so my parents insisted on coming with me and making a trip out of it. So, in early frosty January we made our way along the M6 for the 4 hour drive to Manchester. In the end, I got to have dinner in the town centre and lunch on the curry mile before my interview, which gave me an insight into the places I’d be frequenting once I was a student there!

What can I expect from MMIs?

Like everyone else, I was very nervous about my interview, it being my first official interview ever. More than anything I was nervous about the infamous MMI: “Multiple Mini Interviews”. I had read on the online forums, found interview books to help and practiced with teachers, family and friends. Nothing is quite like that moment when my parents dropped me outside the Stopford Building on Oxford Road, where you spend the majority of your first 2 years as a medical student, and I walked through the glass doors for my interview.

It was nothing like I expected; I was greeted by friendly student ambassadors, who were current medical students, who helped me feel at ease and spoke to myself and the other students waiting for their interview. Seeing all the other students helped to put me at ease to know I wasn’t going it alone. At the end of the day, the medicine interview isn’t about proving that you’re ready to be a doctor but rather about showing you have the potential to become one and the drive to work throughout medical school, which will give you the skills and knowledge you need to be one.

After having some time to sit and get to know the other students, we were all led down a short corridor to the communication skills learning centre (CSLC) for our interviews. This is a mock ward area with lots of smaller rooms coming off an atrium, closed only with curtains. The MMI is made up of 8 stations, each one lasting 8 minutes. You are allocated a certain station to start on and slowly move round to each one until you have done all 8. Not to worry though, there is plenty of time between stations to move between each one and the helpful student ambassadors are on hand to help you move between each one. 

Outside each station will be a brief instruction of what you must do in that particular station which you have a minute to read before starting. My biggest piece of advice is to just take a few seconds to read the instruction and have an idea of what is expected of you in that station, there are no tricks and the medical school wants to help you to be able to demonstrate your best self. In each station, there is usually an examiner and occasionally an actor if there’s role play. Not to worry if the examiner seems serious or doesn’t seem very chatty, they’re just doing their best to stay fair and assess you.

The stations themselves varied greatly in their content. They included roleplaying a scenario, discussing my personal statement, prioritisation, talking about GMC (General Medical Council) principles and instructing other medical students to complete a task! You might finish a station early which is completely fine and doesn’t mean anything has changed. Although 8 stations in 8 minutes feels like a long time, you get so absorbed in the station that the time flies by. Before I knew it, I was thanking everyone and led by the ambassadors back to the front of the building to be greeted by my parents and the long drive down to London.

Top Tips for MMIs

I think the most intimidating part of MMIs is how foreign they are before you apply to medical school. Once at medical school, you’ll have clinical exams that follow the same format (known as OSCEs). Therefore, the best thing you can do is to practice some mock stations whether it be with a friend, family member or teacher. Just practicing doing a few stations in 8 minutes just to feel more comfortable with the format. Other than that, be sure to know your personal statement well and qualities that it demonstrates, ready for any questions that come at you! Compared to traditional interviews, MMIs give you an opportunity to make a good first impression 8 different times. This is great because even if one particular station didn’t go so well, you have 7 other chances to impress the examiners! Try to treat each one as a fresh start and not worry about what you’ve already done. In addition, MMIs are great at giving you opportunities to demonstrate your skills by carrying out various activities e.g. showing empathy when roleplaying, rather than just talking about them as in more traditional panel interviews.

The MMI is a great chance to get a feel at a university you might be at for the next 5 years! If you can try to take some time to walk around the university, chat to the current students about anything you have questions/concerns about and just try to do your best. You’ve already done all the hard work of putting an application together and preparing for the interview!

Note: This is reflective of my personal experience of the Manchester MMI interview and the exact location/station format can be slightly different each year!

Going Further...


 

Student View - The 'Personal Excellence Plan' at Manchester Medical School

by YPU Admin on June 2, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology, biology medicine health, BMH, medicine, Research, and student view

Introduction

My name is Minahil Qureshi and I am currently a third year medical student at the University of Manchester, and prior to this I hold a first class degree in BSc Clinical Sciences. It is a huge privilege to attend a Russell Group university that is so well known for its research, and through the Manchester Medical School, have been lucky to do my own research as part of the course. 

What is the Personal Excellence Plan?

During the five years of the medical course, we undertake a module called the ‘Personal Excellence Plan’ (PEP), which becomes more advanced as each year goes by. This is a module that we have the ability to really make our own and can tailor it to fit our future career goals and research interests.

During my first year, I carried out a group project to create a scientific poster about the effects of the Mediterranean diet on the possible reversal of diabetes. I also wrote a solo report summarizing my main findings. Creating a scientific poster is very different from the kind you may create at school, but thankfully we had a very knowledgeable tutor who helped to facilitate our work and guide our research in the right direction. I really enjoyed this project, as it gave a good taste of how to create and present scientific work, and also how to collaborate with others on research, which is so important locally and globally.

For my second year PEP, I wrote a mini dissertation about my chosen topic: ‘The link between mental and physical health’. I am extremely passionate about highlighting this relationship, because knowledge of the many factors affecting the two forms of health can help us to combat the adverse effects on our wellbeing. My work was greatly commended by my tutor, and they asked for it to be showcased on the website for other medical students to look to as an example. This piece of research is definitely a noteworthy highlight for me thus far as a medical student!

This year, I was really excited to do my third year PEP, as I had transitioned into the clinical years of my degree, and thus the PEP was also set to be more clinical. The work from this project had the potential to directly impact treatments and patient care, and could have even been published in a scientific journal or presented at an international conference! These accolades would look brilliant on any doctor job applications in the future, and so really emphasises how useful this PEP module is at Manchester.

I had been lucky enough to secure my first choice research project, which was going to be based at Salford Royal Hospital in my current favourite specialty: neurology. Neurology is all about the brain and its function, and I truly find nothing else more fascinating, thrilling and impactful. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this dream research project was cancelled.

However, I was not distraught for long, due to the wonderful kindness of my research supervisor. Despite the fact that my supervisor is a senior neurologist on the frontline, they took the time out to email me about the possibility of writing a mini report that could get published! This is now something I am doing separately from the PEP module, but this has only been possible due to the professional networking that this module gave me the opportunity for.

I hope this report goes well so that I can repay a little bit of my supervisor’s kindness! At the University of Manchester, it is the eagerness to teach and generosity of talented academics that really makes the experience of being a student here one of a kind. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Going Further...

 

From Undergraduate to PhD and everything in between!

by YPU Admin on February 7, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology, BMH, Health, medicine, Neuroscience, pharmacology, PhD, psychology, Research, and stroke

Introduction

Hi everyone! I’m Ioana, a first year PhD student in the Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology, at the University of Manchester. My PhD project focuses on the therapeutic side of ischemic stroke at preclinical level. I spend a lot of time working with animal models, as they offer information highly translatable to humans.

In Depth…

I was born and raised in Romania, but I moved to Manchester to do my undergraduate degree in Pharmacology with Industrial Experience. I loved the university and the city so much, that I decided to stay. The degree offered me the chance to learn various laboratory techniques and to experience working with animals in research. However, when I started it, I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do after.

Between my first and second year, I wanted to get more experience in science as I was trying to figure out what I wanted my future career to be. It wasn’t easy to find any internships available for first years, but I emailed my CV, emphasising my willingness to learn to 46 different places that were not advertising any opportunities at that moment. I only received 6 replies, but I was lucky enough to secure 4 internships. One of those was with a research group based within the University of Manchester, where I learned several laboratory techniques that I am still using today. The other 3 were with the nearby hospital. There I had a chance to learn how to obtain ethical approvals for a cardiovascular trial, to manage patient data for a health economic analysis and to shadow a research nurse as she was administering trial treatment to patients with leukaemia. I was learning so much while working for all these places at the same time, as they accommodated a flexible schedule for me. I also did some work in the charity sector with Citywise. All these experiences gave me a broad insight into various paths my career could take.

As part of my degree, I did a placement year at Mayo Clinic in the United States, doing a neuroscience research project working with both cells and animal models. That is when I realised that I really love working in a laboratory setting, especially in Neuroscience. I liked the flexibility of thinking and applying the knowledge in experimental planning and then undertaking the study. I loved it so much that I was sure I wanted to continue with a career in neuroscience research, so I went straight from my undergraduate degree to do a PhD project. I knew it won’t be easy at all, so finding a project I liked with a very supportive group that felt like a community was really important!

So, what is my project about?

In ischemic stroke, when the blood clot is formed, a drug is used to burst the clot, trying to restore the blood flow and to limit the damage. There is increasing evidence that inflammation also plays a role in enhancing the brain damage after stroke. So, there is an anti-inflammatory drug currently in clinical trials for different types of stroke. My project aims to find the most suitable way to combine the anti-inflammatory approach with the clot busting drug in a safe and efficient manner. To do this, I need to replicate the stroke observed in humans, as closely as possible, in animal models of disease. Using these, I can observe the interaction between the two therapeutic approaches at cerebral, vascular, cellular and molecular levels. For example, I am using imaging to monitor blood flow (image attached) and running MRI scans to see the extent of brain damage.

Monitoring blood flow in a mouse brain using Laser Speckle Imaging.

The PhD experience is not all just science. I love being active and involved within the community, hence why I participate in outreach activities, teaching, learning to code, organising events as part of a doctoral society and trying to learn French. Your PhD experience can be whatever you want it to be, tailored to your preferences and interests.

Going Further…


 

How Did We Get Here?

by YPU Admin on January 31, 2020, Comments. Tags: biochemistry, biology, BMH, cell biology, lab work, manchester, PhD, proteins, and Research

Introduction

How did we get here?! A question not necessarily linked to cellular biology, but the answer is essential for all life. How do proteins (molecular machines) travel inside the cell? How can we help when it goes wrong? Can we hijack these pathways to produce revolutionary new drugs? My name is Katie Downes. I’m a second year PhD student at the University of Manchester and my research aim is to answer those questions.

Inside the world of the cell, proteins are powerful machines performing all sorts of crazy processes where space and time are key. Knowing how they get to where they need to be is fundamental to life as we know it, as exemplified by what happens when it goes wrong. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and blindness are linked to issues with intracellular transport. Yet the relatively simple question of how did that get there is still puzzling scientists. Imagine rush hour on the metro then add 20,000 proteins and you’re still not quite imagining how much is going on.

Research in this field is highly applicable to a number of real-life scenarios. Biopharmaceuticals, biological drugs produced in cells, are increasingly being used to target difficult diseases such as cancer. Currently these therapies are super expensive, as production yields are low and development costs high. By gaining a greater understanding of what determines how a protein is produced provides a torch light in the dark for these emerging therapies.

Day to day my research involves fiddling with some high-tech microscopes, watching fluorescent proteins move around inside the cell and performing a series of complex analyses to generate of library of movement. This library can then be used to interrogate various methods of intracellular transport and ultimately create a comprehensive map of intracellular transport.

In Depth

How did I get here?

Throughout secondary school I was determined STEM wasn’t for me. However, one particularly inspirational teacher unlocked what was to become a lifelong passion for the sciences. I went on to study Biological Sciences at Durham University, with a focus on Cell Biology and Biochemistry. My lectures would frequently blow my mind at how awesomely clever biochemical systems and proteins are – defined by logic and simplicity.

As you can see, I am a true nerd. However, it wasn’t just my wonderment which drew me to Biology. Through studying Biology, I realised I could help people and make a difference. During my industrial placement year, I worked in the Research and Development Department for a biopharmaceutical company, producing therapeutic antibodies for clinical trials. From then on, I became fascinated with biopharmaceuticals and the concept that we can harness all of that awesome biochemistry I had learnt during my undergraduate and use it to tackle serious diseases. I was shocked to find how much fundamental cell biology is still unknown. It became clear to me that if true progress was to be made in global health, more research was required and I wanted to be part of it. After graduating I jumped at the chance at a PhD.

My Research:

The world of intracellular transport is a fascinating place. So much is yet to be discovered. But I can provide a little teaser for those who are interested!

Throughout school you are taught that cells are a nice sphere, with a nucleus at the centre and a few other important bits, called organelles, floating around. In reality cells are densely packed environments where everything is in motion. In-fact there is a skeleton of sorts, a cytoskeleton which supports the overall structure of the cell – imagine scaffolding running throughout the cell. Some of this scaffolding also acts as a road, providing a track for molecular motors. These motors waddle along the tracks carrying various cargo. When “long-distance” transport is required, these motors are employed to pick up and drop off their cargo. But, how do they know when they are needed? How do they know what to pick up and where to put down? How do they know what are carrying?

Going Further...

For more information on studying Biological Sciences at Durham University or the University of Manchester:

To learn more about the research that is happening in my faculty:

Interested in intracellular transport?

Want to learn more about biopharmaceuticals?


 

Exploring Endometriosis

by YPU Admin on December 13, 2019, Comments. Tags: biology, BMH, endometriosis, Health, medicine, pharmacology, PhD, and science

Introduction

My name is Jessica Traynor and I am a second year PhD student at the University of Manchester. My research is based on producing a localised drug delivery system for people suffering from endometriosis. Endometriosis is a common gynaecological condition that affects roughly 10% of women at reproductive age. Endometriosis occurs when lesions grow outside of the uterus. These lesions can cause painful periods, pelvic pain and fatigue. Although this disease is common, the treatment options are still limited. Women are most likely to be given anti-inflammatory drugs, hormone-based therapies (such as the pill or the coil) or undergo surgery to remove the lesions. These treatment options are not ideal, especially surgery, as there is a high chance the lesions will grow back.

My lab work is trying to find a way to deliver old and new drugs directly onto the lesions. This will hopefully stop the lesions from growing as well as reduce the side effects of these drugs!

In depth

My initial interest in pharmacology (the study of drugs) began in sixth form. I knew that I was interested in science in general during my GCSEs, so I picked biology, chemistry, physics and maths. I realised that although Biology wasn’t my strongest subject, I found it the most interesting, especially topics surrounding the human body and disease. I decided to look into biomedical sciences for University, which I soon realised included a lot of other topics, such as genetics, biochemistry and immunology. When I looked at the list, I found pharmacology the most interesting subject as I wanted to learn more about the production of drugs and treating diseases. I chose to study pharmacology at Newcastle University.

In my final year at Newcastle I started my research project, which was based on lithium action within the brain and how this can help treat bipolar disorder. This made me realise that I loved the research environment; I loved researching a topic where the answer was unknown.

Overall, my degree taught me a lot of research techniques that can be brought into any research environment, of course, not all labs are the same but University provided me with the confidence to learn and master techniques that I’d never seen before!

I graduated from Newcastle in 2017 with a first class degree in Pharmacology, and if I’m truly honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what to do next! I knew I wanted to carry on in research, but I wasn’t certain on where or on what topic. I spent the year researching PhD topics whilst working within an NHS virology lab as a research assistant. I found this PhD online and thought it was right up my street! Not only was it a PhD based on drug design/delivery but it was also based around an under-researched disease that affects so many women. I had a skype interview with the supervisors and then was put forward for funding!

My lab group consists of people from different backgrounds, whether that is pharmacology, cancer research or pharmacy. We all work alongside other groups to gain a better understanding of disease and its treatment. We all use a variety of different techniques throughout our research, so every day is different. Personally, I find my day is split between lab work, writing papers/reviews, planning future studies and teaching!

After my PhD, I don’t have a set plan on what I want to do next! My opinions may change throughout the years and I could learn new skills that change my perception on what I want my career to be!

Going Further

If you want to find out more about endometriosis and its effects on women, the BBC have recently produced a popular article explaining what endometriosis is and the idea of the ‘gender pain gap’ (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/stories-49925760/endometriosis-the-condition-that-can-take-over-seven-years-to-diagnose)

To learn more about the research that is happening in my faculty: (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/)

If you want more information about Biomedical Sciences/Pharmacology you can find that here (https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/00532/bsc-biomedical-sciences/) and here (https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/pharmacology)

Something that sparked my interest in the treatment of disease was a podcast that talks about medical history, you can give it a listen if you’re interested, too! (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/