Funding opportunities and resources for medical students
Inam Haq (IH): Welcome to Arthritis Research UK London headquarters. Many thanks for coming today to discuss how you’ve been involved with Arthritis Research UK over the last year or so.
So Nick, tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’ve been doing with Arthritis Research UK.
Nicolas Ellerby (NE): My name’s Nicolas Ellerby and I’m going to my third year of medical studies at Keele University, I’m from Liverpool, and I’ve become involved in the Arthritis Research UK organisation through the research summer studentship where my project was to do with clinical predictors of sustained remission in rheumatoid arthritis.
IH: And were you working with patients or with data that had already been collected?
NE: It was a nice mix of clinics – I spent a lot of time in clinics, usually a morning or an afternoon twice a week – and also I’ve spent a lot of time on data analysis as well. We’ve effectively found that those with other diseases as well as rheumatoid arthritis are less likely to remain in remission or be in remission in the first place.
IH: Thank you very much. And Karl, tell us about yourself and what stage of training you’re at and where you’re from.
Karl Alvarez (KA): My name’s Karl Alvarez and I’m a newly qualified Foundation Year 1 doctor, recently qualified from Southampton University and now working at Southampton General Hospital. I first became involved with Arthritis Research UK a year ago when I was awarded one of their student elective schemes. I spent 4 weeks in Gibraltar working for an orthopaedic firm. Since then I’ve remained quite involved with Arthritis Research UK. I’ve attended their student mentorship weekend and I’ve also attended their educational stakeholders’ day, and I’ve also just helped with some of the online reviewing for the musculoskeletal resource tool.
IH: So that’s the Information Gateway that’s going to go live later this year – so you’ve been looking at some of the information resources that will go on that and saying how good they are?
KA: That’s exactly right, yes.
IH: James, tell us about yourself and how you’ve been involved with Arthritis Research UK.
James Richardson-May (JR-M): I’m James Richardson-May and I’m a third year medical student at Peninsula Medical School – in Truro for the next couple of years, and I’m in the same scheme that Nick was, doing the 8-week summer research project looking at the removal of dead cells in a disease called lupus. It’s just a preliminary study we’re doing at the minute to see if it’s worth carrying on. Recent studies have shown that lupus patients for whatever reason have a reduced clearance of dead cells and it’s thought this leads to build-up of autoantigens – targets for your own cells to attack – and we found that there’s a protein called C1q which is important in clearing these dead cells and healthy patients have a trend of having a higher level of C1q than lupus patients.
IH: Have you been working with patients or with blood samples that have been saved?
JR-M: It was fresh blood so we took blood from patients and that was the patient contact for the whole project. It was all lab-based.
IH: So moving to another question now about how Arthritis Research UK helps you as students generally. We produce a medical student handbook that contains information on how to examine the musculoskeletal system. Nick, first, is that something that you’ve seen and have you used it in your training so far?
NE: Yes, I was given it in my second year in the first semester round the time that I was studying rheumatoid arthritis and I found it was very helpful in terms of my practical exams as well as to read before going on to placements and examining patients. Particularly useful was the CD which took you through the examination so that you could look at the video as you were carrying the examination out.
IH: Karl, have you used it at all?
KA: Yes, it’s something that since the student mentoring weekend in January I set up a number of musculoskeletal student workshops so I took the skills that I learnt from the mentoring weekend to teach musculoskeletal assessment skills to other students in my year and, as an aid to the teaching that I did, I did use the musculoskeletal booklet and it was very well received amongst the students and it was used as one of the primary revision guides for musculoskeletal assessment in medical finals at my university.
IH: How do you think your experiences have helped you decide on your future careers and career pathways? Nick, tell us about that.
NE: Certainly, before the studentship I was interested in rheumatology anyway and also, I’ve also enjoyed teaching students in the lower years and at some point I’ve always wanted to be in research in some capacity. So to be able to get the exposure that I didn’t have before in rheumatology has been really beneficial. And to spend some time with consultant rheumatologists and learn the pathway to get into consultancy and the different routes you can take has been really beneficial too.
IH: And Karl, after your experiences with being involved with Arthritis Research UK, how do you see your future career going now that you’ve graduated?
KA: Well, I’ve come from a background of physiotherapy before doing medicine so I was always quite interested in musculoskeletal medicine. However I do feel that the time I’ve spent with Arthritis Research UK has definitely reaffirmed my ambition to pursue a career in musculoskeletal medicine. And also the student mentoring weekend which I attended with Arthritis Research UK has sparked an interest in teaching – which is what motivated me to undertake these musculoskeletal assessment workshops.
IH: And how do you think your experience will help you in your future career James?
JR-M: I hadn’t had much experience of a lab before so I’ve been always wondering, thinking it was something I’d like to work in – in a lab environment. But until I had this 8 weeks of constant lab exposure I didn’t know how I’d fit in and I’ve realised that it’s something I really do enjoy working in.
IH: As you know, fundraising is a big part of the charity’s agenda. How do you think you could get involved in fundraising for Arthritis Research UK Nick?
NE: Although I know I’ve only got limited time with my undergraduate studies I’m looking at some point to run a marathon and I probably would make Arthritis Research UK my charity. And also I’m looking at fundraising events as the primary care centre at Keele is funded by Arthritis Research UK so I want to get involved with them during this year as well, as well as possibly setting up a rheumatology society which hasn’t been set up yet at Keele and I hope to do events for that as well.
IH: Thank you. Karl?
KA: Certainly, in 2013 I will hopefully be running the London Marathon and I would be doing it for Arthritis Research UK. I have my place and it’s now a question about raising the funds.
IH: Many thanks for coming today and sharing your experiences. I think they’ll be really valuable to any future applicants, medical students who wish to apply for our prizes and bursaries. And I hope we continue to develop the relationship where Arthritis Research UK can support your academic or clinical careers in looking after and research for the benefit of patients with musculoskeletal problems.