Emiko Sultana is a part-time student in the University's Department for Continuing Education, pursuing her MSc in Surgical Science and Practice. Here Emiko shares her experience of studying while also being a surgical trainee working in the NHS.
I was working in my first year as a General Surgery trainee at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust when I applied for this course. We were in the time between the first and second wave of COVID-19 and as a junior doctor, I would recognise so many things that I wish were done differently but would not know how to implement change. After starting the course, I learned to look at problems in a healthcare setting differently. The classes during each of the modules were led and tutored by some of the most knowledgeable individuals I have met, and those who have made lasting impacts in global health and in the NHS. The learning from the course did not end in the classroom; we had many social events during each of our modules and this was a great opportunity to share ideas with so many inspiring individuals from around the world.
The course motivated me to move forward from wanting change to implementing change. I had used the lockdown restrictions later in the year to accelerate distant learning by organising and conducting Core Surgical Training Interview courses and Membership of Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) preparation courses virtually. I had also taken part in numerous research projects over the last year and had won prizes at the Associations of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) Annual Conference and The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCS) West Midlands Surgical Society Conference.
I am currently working on my dissertation which is focused on measuring the impact of laparoscopic simulation training in low and middle income countries. This project is inspired by the valuable concepts that were taught in the modules surrounding the science of quality improvement, medical education, evidence-based medicine, and technology, leadership, and human factors in healthcare. I wish to do this alongside my upcoming role as a surgical registrar which I start later this summer. I do not think the final dissertation will be my last project; learning the thinking patterns and foundation for turning a new leaf in healthcare has inspired me to stop simply wishing for change and start spearheading it.
Looking to the future
Before starting the course, I was worried that it would be challenging to balance my job as a doctor alongside this degree. Despite having to stay up late to complete some of my assignments, I feel that being a part-time student has given me the unique opportunity to correlate what I was taught during my classes to my experiences in the hospital. I feel that this has made me a better physician for my patients and for my colleagues, and definitely better at organising my time!
It is a great privilege to join the traditions of the University and take so much value from the knowledge, experiences, and the camaraderie of my friends through this course. I hope to carry on the legacy of the brilliant scholars of this University towards the next stages of my career.