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Sam, BVSc 3 2018-2019 UoB, currently intercalating in MRes Health Science Research

Why did you choose to intercalate?

I’d considered intercalating since beginning vet school, but I never quite knew what I would choose as my clinical and research interests are quite varied. By the time it came to 3rd year of Veterinary Science, I had become very interested in the concept of One Health. I also had some previous research experience in the summer of my 2nd year, but it was very short lived, so I wanted to get a more in-depth research experience as well.

What are you intercalating into?

MRes Health Science Research

I initially wanted to intercalate onto a One Health degree, but unfortunately the only choices for this were 3 year part-time distance-learning Masters degrees at Glasgow or Edinburgh, or a one year Master’s degree at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC)/London School of Health and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Unfortunately, my home is in Bristol and I cannot afford to live in London for a year, so I looked at the University of Bristol courses.

I couldn’t decide whether to intercalate at all when I first looked at the UoB courses because none of them quite fit what I was looking for, I was tempted by the BSc in Global Health and MSc Global Wildlife Health and Conservation, but wasn’t sure. It wasn’t until the course showcase – where the UoB course directors come in and give a presentation and overview of the courses – where I decided that Global Health wasn’t for me due to the lack of a research project and I found out more information on the MRes Health Science Research and BSc Clinical Sciences degrees, both of which seemed like a great way to get a good experience of research with a broad range of subject teaching.

However, as Master’s degree are funded differently by Student Finance, I could not afford to do the MSc in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation at all, and I couldn’t do the MRes unless I got a grant. So, I applied under the assumption that if I get the grant, then I would go with the MRes and if not, then I’d go with the BSc.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to receive the Pathological Society Intercalation grant allowing me to undertake the MRes degree.

The MRes Health Sciences degree is a great way to get an understanding of a wide range of research methods and techniques in Health Sciences. On top of that, it also gives you the opportunity to undertake a 6-month long research project to really delve into a topic that you find interesting, so naturally I chose a topic related to public health and One Health. I would recommend this course to anyone with a real interest in research (especially if you want to go on to do a PhD) but it would also be a great benefit to those who are considering working in industry or pharmaceuticals as it provides a great background for R&D or clinical trials.

How did you find the application process?

Applying was relatively easy. There is a general application form and the MRes also had a course specific form. The general application form is essentially a personal statement and reference to support your application to the intercalation programmes and the MRes application form was quite similar but also asked more specifically about previous research experience, which I was fortunate enough to have from a prior INSPIRE research internship at UoB.

What are you looking forward to most about intercalation?

As much as I do love veterinary science, I have to admit, I got slightly burnt out in 3rd year and I was looking forward to having a chance to take a break from the course, learn new things and meet new people. The main attraction of the MRes for me is research project. I’m really looking forward to being thrown in at the deep end and doing a long research project with the hope that we can a publication (or two!) out of it at the end.

Furthermore, perhaps this is just me, but the teaching in Veterinary Science wasn’t quite what I expected at University. It is no fault of the lecturers, it is due to the fact that it is a vocational course and there is so much information to remember, that there is little time to explore topics, you just need to learn what you are taught. I always expected University to be a place to delve into topics, come up with ideas and discuss, so I am also looking forward to experiencing this aspect of University that is more common on other degrees and will definitely be involved in the MRes due to the Journal Club unit.

What are your plans for the future?

With my varied interests, I’m very torn about where to go in my future career. When I do research, I find I really enjoy it, but the same goes for when I’m in practice and working up cases.

Whatever path I take, I expect that I will go on to work in some area of One Health or veterinary public health, probably through a clinical-academic training programme or maybe even a VPH residency so that I can carry on with some aspects of research at the same time.

In the meantime, I’ll just focus on graduating and enjoying my last few years of Veterinary Science and UoB before having a year or two in practice (ideally mixed) and deciding where to go from there!