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This Week in The Lancet

  • Volume 377 1719 (2011)
  • May 21, 2011


Rising tuition fees push education further away from the poor

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

“Be young, shut up”

In many countries around the world, postgraduate education is dysfunctional: highly expensive or only available in urban centres. It is now practically out of bounds to the less well-off. Up until now, the United Kingdom was fortunate enough to have a high quality education system provided on an (approximately) ‘equal opportunity’ basis.

But, for how much longer will the UK system be regarded as truly equitable? In a move arguably far more radical than that of 2005, the UK government has decided to further threaten access to postgraduate education by announcing a major tuition fee increase. From the maximum £3,500 currently paid by students, the fees could spike to £9,000 by 2012 – a near threefold increase. Which is a sudden jump considering postgraduate used to be free online a few years ago.

Universities in the UK have been lobbying for several months for this increase, allegedly arguing that they could not remain internationally competitive without it. Of course, such proposition is deeply divisive; aspiring national students can only be led to wonder whether sacrificing their accessibility to education for the benefit of international students or prestige is a sacrifice they are, or should be, ready to make.


Sabreen’s TLS 10 Question Challenge

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010


1) Why did you decide to study medicine?

I always assumed that I would grow up to be a doctor when I was younger, because medicine was such an integral part of my family life. Strangely, I had a period of rebellion against this notion and spent a few months before starting my A-Levels saying that I wanted to be a corporate lawyer. Needless to say, I came to my senses soon enough and decided to do medicine. The more I learn of it, the more fascinated I become.

2) Can you share some things that you wish that someone had told you before you applied to study medicine?

I wish people had told me to make the most of the first couple of years of medical school and do other things. There was a lot of hype surrounding lectures and passing exams and how difficult everything was, that a lot of people didn’t stop to think of all the other activities they could get involved with. It feels like a lot of wasted time and opportunity retrospectively. Make time for friends and family and extracurricular activities, just remember to maintain an effective balance.

3) What profession would you be in if you weren’t in medicine?

If not medicine, then I think something writing-related; either an author or a journalist. But medicine is unique in that I can still realise these ambitions alongside becoming a doctor, which is brilliant.

4) What is your biggest motivation?

My motivation is to constantly try and improve myself – whether that is in my personal life or as a medical professional.  Achieving my full potential is important to me, because I want to be able to look back at these formative years of my life and say that I have made a difference, and really lived.

5) What are you most interested in so far and why?

I really enjoy General Medicine, mostly because there is so much to it (although near exam times this is a significant disadvantage) and it is constantly evolving. I also like cardiology as I find the heart very intriguing; not to mention that interpreting an ECG correctly is a really great feeling.

6) What has been your most difficult module so far and why?

Although I love children, I found my paediatrics rotation to be the most challenging so far. It was difficult to see them unhappy and unwell, although admittedly, it felt good to know that you are helping them get better. Earning the trust of the child you are treating is vital, and not always easy. I also found the theory of paediatrics tough, because it is a vast amount of information to take in over such a small amount of time, with a lot of it, like neonatology, being completely unfamiliar.

7) What is the most memorable positive moment in your medical studies so far?

Any moment that a patient tells me that they appreciate what I am doing for them is a positive one in my book. Being kind goes a long way – patients do appreciate the small things that go along with their medical care.

8 ) What is the worst horror story in your medical studies to date?

I was clerking in a young patient with severe learning disabilities on the children’s assessment unit when she started to have a seizure. It was terrifying watching her jerk violently, and she started to cyanose as well – her whole face was blue! Initially, I was paralysed with a sort of indecision as to whether to hold her down along with her family or get some help, but I quickly ran for help after that brief moment. It was an unsettling feeling of helplessness and fear, and it didn’t help that the patient’s mother had a fainting spell immediately after!

9) Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

a) the wishful thinking version

Being the sort of consultant that people recommend to others, because of clinical expertise and because they like me! Preferably with some experience having worked in the developing world, and happily married with children.

b) the perhaps slightly more realistic version

Trying hard to make my mark in the medical profession in some small way, and just trying to become better as time goes on. I also want to be involved with medical education and teaching. And yes, I’ll keep happily married with children in this bit too.

10) Can you share some tips/advice for others

a) wanting to study medicine

The best advice that I can give is – be prepared to work hard, but play hard as well. Yes it will be a challenge and it will be difficult at times, but it is also rewarding and a lot of fun from day one. The patients are often the best part, and you will meet some absolutely amazing people with remarkable stories that might change the way you live your life.

b) already studying medicine?

Keep letting medicine inspire you, even on those days when it feels like it’s all too much. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

Global Health Student Selected Components

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Amy Rowan*, Selina Rodrigues, Sarah Sladden and Josie Bate
4th year medical students, Medical School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Framlimgton Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 9HH. *

Most medical schools in the UK have Student Selected Components (SSCs) or Special Study Modules (SSMs) as part of their curriculum. Here we explain why we chose to organise an SSC in Global Health and what we have learnt from it. We also give some tips on setting up such a course, if it is not already offered by your medical school.