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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...

 

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:





 

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…