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Student View - Explore, Research, Experiment!

by YPU Admin on June 4, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology medicine health, BMH, health sciences, psychology, and Research

Introduction

Psychology research isn’t just about dogs drooling when hearing a bell or rebellious student inmates going mad in a university basement. There’s so much more and this is what I am going to focus on in this blog. I want to tell you how I got into Psychology research and what it actually entails.

About Me

Before going into the more hardcore stuff, I would like to talk a bit about myself. I am a 20-year-old Romanian studying BSc Psychology at the University of Manchester. During high-school years, my studying profile was on hard sciences (i.e. Computer Science, Maths, Physics, Chemistry), and I only had one year when I was studying Psychology so it wasn’t intense at all. I did further studying alongside what we were taught in class and I took part in a county-level Olympiad where I achieved 4th place. In the last year of high school, I had grown an interest in Neuroscience so I decided to apply for the University of Manchester unique joint-honours programme – BSc Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology. Eventually, I chose Manchester because it was a red-brick university and the overall living costs were cheaper than London (which, at the time, was my dream city). All summer before coming to university, I read a lot of Psychology-related books and articles (Freud, Jung, Eysenck, some basic research studies, etc.). I came to university, started my course, and after one month I have switched to the BSc Psychology course.

The first semester was hard. I didn’t exactly know what I was supposed to do - how to look up trustworthy sources, how to reference, how to write up an essay, what to study and read. The academic system I had just gotten out of was completely different from the British Higher Education system. Imagine changing the tap water from the goldfish’s bowl to distilled water and me being the goldfish. By working my way through the referencing guides provided by the university, paying attention to the feedback and discussing with my academic advisor about my insecurities, I was able to feel more confident in my studies.

My Journey into Research

At the end of the first year, I applied for a position as a Research Assistant for a study investigating whether religion and implicit attitudes play a part in gay men getting jobs. I had to write a cover letter saying why I was interested in that position and show that I had the skills needed. I had some experience in the HR field from my involvement in societies, so I wrote about that and about my interest in social psychology and recruitment. I also had to tailor my CV for the position by including my research skills developed throughout 1st year’s curriculum and my extracurricular activities. 

I was accepted, and over the summer I had to write a literature review analysing previous theories and evaluating research methods. I worked hard on it and gathered 9 pages of work - which has earned me the appreciation of the coordinator. We started the process of testing the participants in the second semester of the second year, as there were some problems with the ethics of the project. As the research assistants, we guided the participants through the research process. Unfortunately, we had to stop when the Coronavirus situation began.

The next research project I was about to undertake, as part of the Short Work Placement Unit, was aimed at investigating the sense of community experienced on the BSc Psychology course. I was supposed to do a literature review, spending some time looking at variables that might influence this effect, and decide accordingly how the project will look like in terms of the research methodology which thrilled me. Unfortunately, this project was put on hold due to lockdown reasons as well. On the bright side, The University of Manchester offers a variety of research programmes and internships which I could undertake in the future, so I am not panicking. 

Going Further...

My advice for you would be to always keep an open mind and let yourselves be submersed by whatever you find that interests you. Explore, research, experiment. See what appeals to you the most and pursue it passionately. Be conscientious with your work, and always keep an open mind.

For more information, please visit these websites:


 

Student View - Enquiry Based Learning in the Manchester Dental School

by YPU Admin on June 4, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology medicine health, BMH, dental hospital, dental school, dentist, dentistry, and EBL

About Me

Hi everyone, my name is Ayoola Bode and I am a fourth-year dental student at the University of Manchester. Being a dental student has been both a rewarding and challenging experience as you are learning a lot of new information and trying to develop intricate manual skills for clinical dentistry. However, Dentistry is such an interesting and varied course to study.

In fourth year, we’ve been able to treat children for the first time and it’s such a nice feeling being able to reassure them and give them stickers at the end of appointments. During my time in dental school, I’ve taken part in various societies and initiatives, but my greatest achievement has to be being elected as co-president of the Manchester Dental Student Society this academic year. It has allowed me to truly be involved within my dental school and organise events to bring dental students together. Here's a picture of my wonderful committee!

What is EBL?

Manchester Dental School is known for its unique approach to learning by the use of Enquiry Based Learning (EBL). EBL is a form of active learning that utilises posing questions or identifying issues from cases or scenarios which students independently research to develop their knowledge from the questions or issues identified. EBL is carried out within a small group of 8 to 10 students, mediated by a facilitator but it is very much student-led. I see EBL simply as a style of learning that is really driven by curiosity.

There are different roles taken on during an EBL session:

  • A chair – this person leads the group in reading the new case out loud, directs the group to identify any new or unfamiliar words in the case and stimulates the group discussion.
  • A scribe – this person notes down key points during the discussion and learning objectives the group set for themselves.
  • Other students – contribute ideas and engage in discussion.
  • University tutor – acts as a facilitator and ensures that key topic areas to be picked up on have been discussed or added to the learning objectives.

In first and second year, EBL works via a 2-week rotation timetable:

  • Week 1 (session 1): Monday - A new case is discussed in EBL groups (1 hr)
  • Week 2 (session 2): Wednesday - Discuss what you have researched (1.5 hrs)
  • Week 2 (session 3): Friday - Group Assessment (1hr)

At the start of every new EBL case, a new scribe and chair are chosen, so by the end of the term, everyone would have had a chance to take on a more active role. There is an assessment during session 3 of each case which contributes to the overall coursework grade at the end of the year. You do get to do the assessments within your groups, and they are more like activities instead of the traditional question and answer written assessment format which makes them a bit more fun.

In between session 1 and session 2, EBL is always supplemented by lectures, anatomy classes or lab practicals that link to the general theme of the case being worked on for the 2 weeks. For example, in second year, we had a case that revolved around blood pressure and in a lab session we learnt how to take each other’s blood pressure and the anatomy classes for those two weeks involved examining a heart prosection from a cadaver while being taught by an anatomy demonstrator.

How has EBL benefited my learning?

Initially, EBL seemed very daunting and too independent, but each case is so well supplemented by teaching and I eventually adjusted to the style of learning during my first term of first year. EBL is beneficial as it creates a safe space to ask questions and be inquisitive. It has allowed me to improve my ability to explain complex scientific ideas to people in a simple way which in turn has made me more confident in my ideas and a better communicator.

Useful links from Manchester Dental School:


 

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...

 

Student View - Work Experience for Your Medical School

Introduction

Applying to medical school can often be a daunting experience that seems like never-ending hurdles! However, piecing apart a good application can be helpful in finding out what will make you stand out from the crowd. My name is Cameron and I’m a final year medical student at the University of Manchester, in this blog I will focus on a key part of any medical school application: work experience.

Classically work experience is perceived to be countless hours following doctors around a hospital. Although this can be useful, many other activities are equally acceptable to talk about in a personal statement or at interview. The key concept universities are interested in is demonstrating that you have experience in a caring environment. This can range from volunteering in an elderly care home, shadowing a GP or other healthcare professional in primary or secondary care, or caring for a friend or relative with additional needs. The idea behind this is to gain an insight into what it is like to care for someone else and crucially what you learned from it.

When it comes to work experience its quality over quantity. Describing your time in a few settings is much more beneficial for your application than listing all the departments you visited in a hospital. The most important part to write about, and a crucial skill to develop for a career in medicine, is the ability to reflect. How did the caring experience make you feel? What did you learn from it? How has this benefited you? And crucially, what have you observed that will change how you act next time? Reflection is a crucial skill that is continuously needed in a medical career. Showing that you can talk about not only what work experience you did but how it gave you an insight into medicine, showed you what skills are required as a doctor, will make your application stand out from the rest. 

Finding Work Experience

It can be hard to find work experience opportunities, but here are some tips that can help:

  • Ask the relevant member of staff at your school about possible opportunities in a caring environment or any work experience schemes ran with the local NHS trust.
  • Look online to find opportunities for shadowing and volunteering. 
  • Phone up your local care home or charity to see if they are willing to allow you to come and help out, whether this is something as simple as chatting to elderly residents and supporting their daily needs.
  • Charities are always welcoming additional support so this experience should be easy to find.

Currently during lockdown, it is difficult to find these opportunities however you can still use your time effectively. Take up a new skill or hobby that you can demonstrate requires the vital skills of a doctor. There are numerous volunteering opportunities observing social distancing that you can take part in, for example participating in schemes that telephone isolated individuals who are particularly vulnerable in lockdown. Also, keep an eye on university websites and social media channels to see what is suggested for those seeking to study medicine.

It’s good to bear in mind that any form of work or volunteering can be discussed at the interview or in your personal statement to demonstrate the skills and experience you have. Whether this is working is a supermarket or helping out with your local sports team. Think out how skills such as leadership, teamwork, reflection, timekeeping, and organisation can be discussed and applied to why you would make a great medical student. 

Going Further...

To find out more about Medicine at Manchester - https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/medicine/
To find out about entry requirements and more about the course at UoM - https://www.manchester.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/courses/2020/01428/mbchb-medicine/
Find out ways to volunteer during the Coronavirus pandemic - https://www.gov.uk/volunteering/coronavirus-volunteering

 

Keeping Kidneys Alive (in a lab?!)

by YPU Admin on February 28, 2020, Comments. Tags: biology medicine health, BMH, doctor, intercalation, kidneys, medicine, PhD, and tissue engineering

Introduction

My name is Sirat Lodhi and I am a medical student at the University of Manchester. After completing four years of medical school, I realised I wanted to take a break from Medicine to study a new degree. This is known as intercalation. I decided to pursue a Master of Research degree in Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine. Following this year, I hope to complete my final year of Medicine so that I can graduate as a doctor.

Many medical students complete an intercalated degree so that they can study a new subject which they may not have had the opportunity (or time!) to study at medical school. As a medical student, I especially enjoyed the small research projects I completed. However, I did not consider intercalating until a supervisor suggested that a research degree may be for me! Now, I am hoping to develop my research skills because I am certain that I would like to pursue an academic career. I am interested in learning how to repair and replace parts of the body that have been damaged by trauma or disease. My research is in the field of kidney transplant surgery. 

In Depth...

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DONOR KIDNEY?

Good kidney function is important because the kidneys filter our blood so that toxic waste can be removed from the body. Also, the kidneys make urine. Unfortunately, there are over 60,000 people in the UK who are suffering from kidney failure. These individuals need a kidney transplant to allow them to survive - this is when someone donates their kidney to the patient. Once the kidney has been removed from the body of the donor, it is stored in ice. This is done because if the kidney is kept in a good environment, it will work better in the person who receives it. 


However, keeping the kidney in a cold environment is damaging. Instead, it may be better to connect the kidney to a machine so that warm blood can flow through it. This means the kidney can work just like it would in the warm body. Although we know that cold storage can be damaging for donor organs, this technique is still used in the NHS. Fortunately, there is increasing research looking at developing techniques to keep organs alive in warm conditions.

WHAT DOES MY RESEARCH FOCUS ON?

Overtime, blood breaks down and damages the donor kidney. To prevent this from happening, a ‘fake’ blood has been developed. My research tests whether a warm solution of ‘fake’ blood can be pumped through pig kidneys without causing damage. If the ‘fake’ blood is found to be safe, it could be used to make donor kidneys work better in the new body.  Most importantly, kidneys which are not good enough to be donated could be improved using this technique so that more people can receive a life-saving kidney transplant. 


This is a very exciting time to be conducting transplant research because the organ donation law is changing from spring 2020. England will move to an ‘opt out’ organ donation system. This means that most adults will be considered as being potential organ donors when they die. It is hoped that this will increase the number of organs transplanted. This is very important because there is a shortage in donor organs. For example, every year, around 60% of people on the kidney transplant waiting list are not offered a kidney so they must continue waiting. 

If you would to learn more about anything I have discussed in this blog, please visit the links below!

Going Further

An article about the transplant research lab that I am working in can be found at:

If you are interested in studying Medicine, this is a good website to look at:

If you are interested in becoming a scientist, this is a good website to look at:

For more information about the NHS organ donation scheme, please look at: