Wisha Gul, Master's in Medical Science (Anatomical Sciences)

I was looking for a course that had a mix of taught and research modules that would further my clinical career

As an academic foundation doctor, my time is split between clinical work and research. For the clinical aspect, I have rotated through a range of posts including A&E, General Surgery (including ENT), Gastroenterology and Stroke medicine. For the research aspect I am based in the Walton Centre, where I am conducting a study in neurocritical care looking at monitoring in patients with traumatic brain injury.

When applying for my intercalated degree I was looking for a course that had a mix of taught and research modules that would further my clinical career. I hope to pursue a career in neurosurgery, so the course offered at Keele University, with its focus on anatomy alongside the opportunity to conduct your own research, catered to that. The course also includes taught research modules that made conducting your own research less daunting. I was an external intercalating student so Keele also offered the opportunity to experience a new university.

I received support from many different members of staff at Keele during each element of the course. Keele helped me get in touch with my project supervisor. I worked with a neurosurgeon at the nearby University Hospital North Midlands to undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of decompressive craniectomy in patients with severe traumatic brain injury. I also received support for the research project from other members of the Keele faculty, as well as the help of a statistician. Tutors for each individual module were supportive throughout.

The course has benefited me in a multitude of ways. It gave me my introduction to clinical research, something that I have continued to build on since graduating as a doctor. I was able to publish my project in the journal of World Neurosurgery. This, alongside other experiences from the course, were pivotal in getting an academic foundation training post in Neurosurgery. The course has taught me to learn and work independently, which was very different to my experience in medical school. Certainly this is something that has continued to benefit me throughout foundation training.

The course has a wide range of modules including anatomy taught by anatomists and visiting surgeons using cadaveric dissection. These sessions, along with my experience of undertaking a viva examination, have been invaluable as I undertake postgraduate examinations in surgery. In addition, the research project and the support I received have made a lasting impact on my career.

I would encourage anyone to seize the opportunity to undertake a research project as best they can. You have a whole year with a supportive faculty to achieve something if you put your mind to it. As a cohort we undertook a wide range of projects from orthopaedics to dermatology to lab-based cell and tissue engineering projects, so there is a scope for whatever your interest.

My next step will be to apply for neurosurgery speciality training, where I hope to continue my research work alongside clinical training.