BSc (Hons) Clinical Sciences (2016)
General Medicine Representative – Diabetes Specialist, MSD – Nationwide
(based in Yorkshire)
Why did you apply to the University of Bradford? What was your first impression of the university and the city, and what did you enjoy most about your time in Bradford?
I applied to Bradford predominantly because I was still chasing a career in medicine, and I was keen to transfer to Leeds Medical School after year 1. The opportunity that Bradford was giving students felt almost like a lifeline at the time, and I can’t thank Bradford enough for that second attempt.
After that didn’t work out, the University became home, and supported me in pursuing new career ideas – something which I had never truly considered before. My first impression of the University was that it had a cosier feel to it that some which are catastrophically large, and I enjoyed walking around campus, feeling a part of UoB. I thrived on the opportunity to engage with the sports and societies which Bradford supports so well. Generally, I felt welcomed by Bradford. The city has seen a lot of changes during my three years; new buildings, new pavements, new clubs! The nights out are better than you expect, and I say this as someone who usually visits Leeds which is known for its night life, so well done Bradford! I highly recommend the new Bier Keller and Brew Haus, but obviously take your revision with you… (Joke – insert laughter)
My most enjoyable experiences at Bradford stretched from human dissections at Leeds in Year 1, right through to group presentations, and of course being a part of the University Women’s Football team – BUWFC. I made some great memories both in and outside of the course, many of which I will never forget.
Why did you choose that particular course? What did you like and enjoy most about your course?
I have to be totally honest and say that I was drawn to Clinical Sciences because of the possible connection to Medicine, but in the end I also enjoyed the course for what it was. I am a massive science fanatic, always have been, and therefore any degree covering science was the one for me.
The clinical aspects of the course allowed us to engage with the community, speak to patients and healthcare professionals, and generally improve our communication skills which altogether proved very rewarding. The opportunity to experience a traditional learning style at Leeds Medical School was also enjoyable, working with cadavers to learn of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. At first, this is a very strange and almost creepy experience, but it is also something which encourages the development of new learning styles, and is again something that I will take forward with me.
Generally, I enjoyed the opportunity to work in groups regularly on the course because I am a team player and like to engage with others. The course stretched my scientific understanding beyond all realms of what I understood pre-university, which I now utilise in my career quite heavily. The extra-academic lessons that Clinical Science teaches are also invaluable, from presentation skills to critical thinking analysis. So, thanks Bradford!
What tips would you give to prospective students about the course at University of Bradford and the university itself?
To other students, I would suggest that they embrace University for all that it offers. Yes, you need to put a great deal of effort into your course and hit the ground running – you should be studying every day, not just around your exam periods if you want to give yourself the best chance of success. That said, finding ways to relax is also key. I would encourage anyone to engage with the sports and societies of Team Bradford, because whatever your interests, you will find something for you. Training sessions with BUWFC were a good way to relax after a long day, and the games added to the fun as we finished second in our league, one game away from first place!
I am also proud to say that I was part of the Varsity thrashing this year, which left Huddersfield trailing at 16–10.5 points (I just had to mention this!). Whether you’re sporty, arty, creative or all of the above, you will find something for you within the Students Union. This is also a great way to share common experiences, share stresses during exam periods and just generally lean on your peers to get you through University life. As the saying goes; no one said it was easy, but it’s worth it!
How did Career and Employability Services support you during your time at University?
I personally had a brilliant experience with this service. In year 2 of Clinical Sciences we had an in-built Careers Module entitled Personal, Career and Professional Development, within our course. This was perfectly timed to encourage those who had not transferred to Leeds, or who didn’t want to, that there are many more opportunities ahead.
Personally, by this stage I was already thinking beyond Medicine and the Careers Service enabled me to maximise my success in other areas. I had regular meetings in year 2 and 3 to ask for CV help, practice competency based interviews, find out which websites to sign up to and which companies to apply for. If it hadn’t been for the Careers Service, I would have had no real idea of when and where to look. I would have been completely lost as to how early some companies begin recruiting, and I wouldn’t have been sure how to re-model my CV.
Thankfully, I embraced the support that the Careers Service offered and after passing multiple interviews, online assessments (which by the way, need a lot of practice) and overall assessment centres, I found myself with three firm graduate job offers before I had even taken my final exams. I began my career just two weeks after finishing my finals, and I owe a huge thanks to Career and Employability Services for helping me to set myself in good stead to achieve this.
Tell us about your current job (brief responsibilities of what you will be doing).
I am now working for MSD (or Merck, Sharp and Dohme as they are known worldwide) since May 2016. MSD is a major pharmaceutical innovator, developer and provider across the world, dominating UK and US markets at present. I am honoured to be able to say that I work for a company that changes lives daily, and I’m even more proud that this is my first full-time role.
My title is a General Medicine Representative, in simple terms, meaning that it is my job to ensure that any patients who can benefit from the medicines that MSD develop, get those medicines. At the moment, I am working solely on a Type 2 diabetes drug, meaning that I am classed as a specialist. I have had to study hard (again) since beginning my career as there is so much to learn, as always with any scientific concept. I regularly deal with doctors, nurses, consultants, discussing how MSD can help their patients. I have also been fortunate to gain some head office experience in my first couple of weeks, and also some lab time, experiencing drugs being developed that genuinely are changing people’s lives.
I have got the executive package just to go with it too; company car, credit card, laptop, phone, hotel stays, train travel to London, and a starting salary of £28,000. I wouldn’t normally spell this out, but I think it’s important for students to understand how much working hard at University can pay off, quite immediately. To cut a long story short – I am enjoying myself, and I plan to climb higher in the coming years. My long term plan is to perhaps study a PhD and become an MSL, or Medical Sciences Liaison, meaning that I would be very ‘hands-on’ with the research and development aspects of the company. I’m excited!
What action did you take to improve your employability whilst at University?
As already mentioned, I engaged with Career and Employability Services team to a great extent, which gave me the tools to know how and where to access all of my options. This broadened my horizons, on top of what I was already considering, and allowed me to gain many opinions on my CV and answers to competency based questions (which you can be asked on an application form or face-to-face).
I regularly asked for practice questions to be sent with regard to the online psychometric tests which nearly every company asks for now, and I engaged with any feedback on offer. It’s crucial, even if you know exactly what you want to do, that you engage with Career and Employability Services at University. Trust me, they know a lot more than you, and that second, third, fourth opinion is invaluable.
What advice would you give to current students wishing to enter this type of career?
Similar to what I have already said; embrace University in its every aspect. You have to be on top of your science game at all times, especially to go to an interview and convince someone that your scientific understanding is great enough, but you also have to be a ‘rounded person’, for most big companies, or another institution you may go on to study at, to show an interest. This goes back to mentioning sports and societies – have a go, get involved!
Work experience is crucial, whether that be behind a counter in KFC or volunteering in a hospital; it’s important to show your future employer that you went above and beyond the rest to develop yourself and improve your understanding of the career that you are set to engage with.
It’s true that on average there are more than the 40:1 applications to job places post-graduation, so finding ways to stand out and add perks to your CV is absolutely critical. At my assessment centre, they had 20 people and took one, from other groups they took none; it’s competitive with a huge underline beneath “the earlier you start, the easier you build and develop, and the easier it is to sell yourself at any given interview”. Only you are in control of your future, it’s true, but embracing the support around you whilst you are studying is also very key to your development. Never take any opportunity for granted, and you will prosper.