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Why did you choose to intercalate?
When I was applying to Vet schools, they always have that awkward bit at the end of the interview: “So do you have any questions for us?” My question was always: What opportunities are there to intercalate?
I’ve always been interested in both Humanities (such as English and Art) and Science, but there doesn’t seem to be any course that integrates both. I chose Veterinary over Humanities. So, when I heard about intercalation I thought perfect! I can finally do both. I think it’s a common problem that people who do a straight science can be quite restricted in expressing creativity even though we all have that desire to a degree. Therefore Medical Humanities seemed like a great fit.
What are you intercalating into?
Medical Humanities. The course I’m taking is at Bristol, and combines English and Philosophy units from first and third year.
We are also part of the Oakhill Group, which is specific to Medical Humanities, started by Anthony Oakhill who was an advocate of clinical medicine and the Arts. We meet up every week to do things ranging from Art workshops, to history of medicine, to excursions to learn about different ways the humanities have been beneficial and incorporated into medicine. As part of the group you also do a creative piece at the end of the year which is due in after everything else including your dissertation (thank god). The piece is then exhibited in Stokes Croft, along with all the Medical Humanities students’ works (of which there are only 6 of us). The creative piece can be absolutely anything, from a painting, to a sculpture, to a piece of music, to a full dance routine.
How did you find the application process?
As I am intercalating in the same university, the application was not too complex. There was an online application which consisted of a 9ish page document asking you various questions about your experience with humanities before/during university, just to get a feel for what you’ve done before. Then there are bits which ask you to analyse poems, historical texts etc. But it’s really not as daunting as it sounds! I was told all they want to do is to see if you have a genuine interest and have potential to do well on the programme.
I personally really enjoyed the application process. When I was knee deep in Veterinary, I could switch off for a minute and turn to my application. It gave me a chance to flex muscles I hadn’t used since secondary school. If you enjoy the application (taking away the stress of having an application deadline) then it’s very likely you will enjoy the course itself.
What are you looking forward to most about intercalation?
I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to study something else I am genuinely interested in, after all we’re complex human beings and our ideas aren’t bound to one interest or field. Having said that, the point of intercalation is to also somewhat enhance what you’re learning in veterinary context, but I definitely feel Medical Humanities does this, just in a less obvious way than say an Anatomy degree. So far we’ve talked about philosophical theories of defining ‘health’ and ‘disease’, and ways in which these theories can inform and be useful in everyday clinical practice and beyond. We’ve also talked about how we analyse literary texts and what we can draw from them, which we can apply more directly later in the year when we do Literature and Medicine.
I’m also looking forward to meeting people from other universities and disciplines, which may be in the form of course mates or lecturers. It’s really interesting to dive into another degree/another department of the university and see what its like, especially when you’re in with third years who’ve been doing this for two years already.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment, my options are open. I hope that by intercalating some more options become available or apparent to me. The past three years my interests have been geared towards small animal practice, but I’m also doing EMS with Vet Record next year so I’m excited to see what a different kind of EMS environment brings. Basically, we’ll see, nothing’s set in stone.