- Course: MBiol Medical Sciences
- Year of graduation: 2022
- Nationality: British
Studying at the University of Leeds
I originally chose to study at the University of Leeds because of its esteemed reputation. Being accepted into one of the top 20 ranking U.K. universities was an amazing honour. Furthermore, from visiting open days I took a great liking to the university campus specifically because of the libraries, social spaces and the state-of-the-art facilities available.
Not only does the University of Leeds offer a great educational environment but it also offers an extremely friendly and open social surrounding; something that is very important when devoting years of your life to studying and living there. The city of Leeds is also a very modern and appealing place situated close to the university campus.
A tailored degree
I chose to study Medical Sciences because of the broad areas of science that were taught as part of the course. Modules I studied included cardio-respiratory physiology and pharmacology, human endocrinology, systems neurophysiology and cancer biology. Therefore, the course offered the opportunity to enhance my knowledge on a wide variety of scientific topics. This was something that appealed to me especially I was not sure what area of science I wanted to pursue a career in. However, being given the opportunity to choose my modules in later years of my degree allowed me to tailor them to the area of science I wanted to specialise in.
Furthermore, I was later given the opportunity to transfer onto the integrated master’s course which allowed me to apply the knowledge I had gained as part of my bachelor’s degree into my very own research project.
Getting stuck in
There were multiple aspects of my course including lectures, laboratory practical’s, tutorials and seminars. The highlight of the course in particular was being given the opportunity to learn a host of practical skills including dissections, microbiological techniques, recording an electrocardiogram and testing the effects of drugs on physiology to name a few. This allowed me to become proficient in a range of practical skills relevant to a variety of scientific topics. These accompanied the modules we studied very well and allowed us to apply our knowledge into practice. Additionally, during the practicals we were able to work with state-of-the-art research facilities available in the Faculty of Biological Sciences to understand how science is performed in the real world.
Confidence from experience
Studying Medical Sciences has helped me hugely as a Healthcare Scientist Practitioner. The course has broadened my knowledge on a wide range of practical techniques. In particular procedures such as the ELISA, flow cytometry, PCR and other various microbiological techniques I now use on a day-to-day basis in my job to analyse patients samples and their response to vaccines and infectious disease. Whilst at university I not only learnt about the theory behind these techniques but also gained hands-on experience gaining proficiency in them.
Attending practical sessions every week in the first two years of my degree helped me gain confidence working in a laboratory setting and understanding how science is performed in the real world. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to perform my own research project as smoothly in my final year of my integrated masters.
Finally, studying modules including Introduction to Microbiology and Medical Virology taught me about a variety of infectious diseases, the structure of some of the most prevalent viruses and how vaccines and anti-viral drugs are developed against them as a result. Along with my own research project I undertook in my final year, this has helped me understand how to undertake scientific research I now perform routinely as part of my current job into vaccines against various pathogens.
Hurdles, obstacles and a global pandemic?
One of the greatest challenges I faced during my degree was carrying on with my course during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of lockdown, all teaching was moved online and this meant not being able to get into labs and gain hands on experience with practical techniques. The university was extremely helpful in trying to overcome this nevertheless providing us with a variety of supplementary online resources.
Another one of the biggest challenges I faced in my degree was being responsible for planning and performing my own research project as part of my integrated master’s degree. In order to carry out my own project I had to work independently to review and critically analyse scientific literature in my chosen field to propose a hypothesis and plan the experiments I felt were appropriate to answer it. Nevertheless, it developed a number of my skills including my research, time-management, practical and data analysis skills greatly and developed my mindset from a student to a researcher.
Looking to the future
Since graduating, I have taken time off to travel as a break for accomplishing my degree. I am still thinking about my future career and I am in the midst of planning and applying for a host of jobs relevant to my degree including in medical sales, clinical physiology and healthcare science. Studying my degree has given me relevant knowledge and experience in a range of scientific fields and therefore I am able to apply to a variety of careers.
I am now working for the UK Health Security Agency as a Healthcare Scientist Practitioner. Situated in the vaccine evaluation unit at Manchester Royal Infirmary I am responsible for providing scientific services to patients and clients evaluating immunological responses to microbiological disease and vaccines. On a day-to-day basis I prepare patient samples to perform a range of scientific procedures such as the ELISA, flow cytometry and PCR. I am also responsible for analysing the results of these procedures to generate laboratory reports. Furthermore, I partake in scientific research into vaccines against different pathogens including SARS-CoV-2. Altogether, this work is necessary to meet the ethos of the UK Health Security Agency; to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing against infectious disease.
Make the most of every opportunity
My advice to prospective students would be not to put too much pressure on yourself about choosing your degree. Take the time you need to thoroughly go through all the courses that interest you, research into what they entail and what you will learn and what kind of careers alumni who studied the same degree went into. Also if you have the opportunity speak to anyone you know who has studied at the university you want to go to or the course you want to do because it will help you gain a much greater insight as to whether it is for you.
My advice to current students would be to make sure you keep on top of your work and notes because you’ll thank yourself later. If you have an assignment, try to start it as early as possible and don’t be afraid to ask lecturers or any members of staff for help. Also, to current students, take any opportunities that you are presented with as it may help you later and don’t waste time whilst you’re at university – engage in social and educational activities wherever possible and make the most of your time whilst you’re there.