Author Archives: Ben Sharif

Workshop Day: Highs and Lows

The day started with an inspirational talk by former Cardiff student, Dr Menna Clatworthy. She talked about why she went down the academic route and how rewarding a career in clinical medicine is.

So filled with enthusiasm I went off to my first workshop: Getting Involved in Research.
Expecting to be informed of how Cardiff University is able to help me get involved in the cutting edge of science, I left disappointed after a five minute talk. Neither of the speakers had attempted any research at Cardiff University or had thought to prepare anything for the talk.

Fortunately all hope was not lost.

The second workshop, ‘Thriving and Surviving’ was much more beneficial. The 5th Year Students had prepared a short presentation on what to do to keep sane and enjoy yourself whilst doing well. They spoke of how in 3rd Year we can create our own SSC and this is a good way to explore a research area that you would like to get involved in. This restored my enthusiasm from Dr Menna’s talk in the morning.

Overall, today’s conference experience had it’s highs and lows. I am definitely going to start thinking about areas of research I would like to get involved in and what tutors would be able to help me.

Samuel Willis

Intercalation: Myth-busting Q&A

Three 5th Year students who have previously intercalated provided some straight answers to common intercalation questions.

Here are a few of the hottest topics of discussion…

Q: How difficult is it to reintegrate into the medical course after your intercalation year?

A: “Not at all! Coming back to medicine was a dream, I suddenly loved clinics…at least for a while.”

Q: What it was like to join the 3rd year of a biosciences course? Was it hard to hit the ground running?

A: “You’re a little behind on some of the background but there’s nothing that didn’t come together in the first few weeks”

Q: How much does your ranking matter?

A: “Very little. If you want to intercalate then apply: there’s nothing to lose and you don’t have to have a tip-top ranking to have a good chance of getting your first choice. Just go for it!”

Q: Is it a chilled year?

A: “It depends what you do, my year was half and half: very relaxed until January exams. Then dissertation started looming and the library became my second home. But there is always the long summer to look forward to! However, be sure to choose something that is of interest to you. No amount of time off later can cheer you through a dissertation that doesn’t remotely float your boat!”

Maia Tanner

Joys and Pitfalls of Academic Medicine – Dr Meena Clatworthy

I haven’t seen a lecture theatre packed this much since my first day of medical school.

Dr Meena Clatworthy commands the lecture theatre with an air of confidence, telling the students she will talk to them about the joys, and potential pitfalls, of academic medicine.

Dr Meena Clatworthy

Dr. Clatworthy, a Cardiff graduate, is an honorary consultant nephrologist. She went on to cross the Severn Bridge to follow her academic desires, ending up at Cambridge, becoming an academic in transplantation medicine.

The aim of her talk today is to inspire medical students to take up exciting roles in medical research.

She intently goes on to explain to students, that academic medicine is not for everyone, but those who enjoy a challenge, and the satisfaction of changing things in a big way. If you wish for instant results, then clinical medicine might be more for you. Giving someone some antibiotics and a few days later they’re better. Academic medicine looks at the longer term picture. Understanding the disease itself, and looking at how it works, and possibly going on to make a finding that could change medicine forever. She uses the term ‘legacy’ multiple times, and this really is something that Dr. Clatworthy is creating, and today is instilling the thought into these year 2 students.

They too, could become someone who leaves behind a lasting, world-changing legacy.

If that wasn’t exciting enough there are many chances to travel with academic medicine and Dr. Clatworthy herself has recently returned from Seattle. Dr Clatworthy has also written two textbooks – Nephrology : Clinical Cases Uncovered and Transplantation at a Glance

You can feel the engagement in the room, with the frenzied excitement of young minds racing towards untold possibilities. But we are promised a balanced view and Dr Clatworthy goes on to explain that it’s not all as perfect as we may have initially thought.

An amusing video explains the frustrations of not being published by the journals they wish. After all, as Dr. Clatworthy explains, getting published has varying degrees of impact. And when you’re an academic (particularly at Cambridge), getting into world leading journals is essential. And it can be very frustrating when that doesn’t happen. And of course the long hours, the finances to run research, pressures to publish and fund your lab and staff.

And it turns out that salaries are typically lower as an academic than as a consultant working for the NHS. I notice a few students shaking their heads in despair…

But Dr. Clatworthy picks up the crowd and drives on. There are still many minds who are daring to dream of their possibilities in the world of research. She goes on to explain how to go into a career in research, but importantly gives useful tips on how to start working towards it now:

  1. Say ‘Yes’ to every opportunity.
  2. Build your CV early
  3. Work in a field that interests you.

We come to the end of the talk, with students inspired, and daring to dream.

Marek Parkola and Callum Priest