Case Study -Heather Lockwood

Case Study -Heather Lockwood

As every medical student will know, the arrival of the summer holidays is a momentous occasion where one can shelve their Oxford handbook and bask in endless exam-free sunshine for a glorious couple of months. So why on earth did I undertake a DCAT summer studentship?  If I am honest, after completion of a long and challenging year and fiendish set of exams, the idea of working nine-to-five with the Institute of Academic Anaesthesia, Medical Physics and Bio-engineering seemed suitably less appealing than it did when I first applied three months previous.  How wrong I was.

The overuse of words such as “amazing”, “fantastic”, and “brilliant” has led to a significant dilution in their intended effect; suffice to say I will simply describe my scholarship as being the most challenging but rewarding experience of my undergraduate career. People have asked me how I managed to carry out and write up an entire scientific paper, three journal articles, design a national survey of trainee anaesthetists, and organise two future studies in just eight weeks: the answer is simple really, because I put my heart and soul into my project and had the phenomenal supervision of undoubtedly the best and most passionate researchers I have ever, and will probably ever, know. A summer studentship should not be undertaken lightly, the best piece of advice I can extend to others who may be considering applying is only do so if you are interested in research and want exposure to some of the remarkable work that is taking place on your very doorstep.

This opportunity is what you chose to make of it and as such is heavily student-led. I was perpetually fearful of organising my project and timetable largely on my own; but that is the beauty of the DCAT scheme, you are given this incredible chance to develop key organisational skills fundamental to academic and clinician alike. There is also an excellent support network in addition to your assigned supervisor that exists to ensure the success of not only the scheme, but the individual student.

So if you are interested in the academic side of medicine, are enthusiastic and keen to learn new skills and meet interesting and unbelievably talented people, a DCAT summer studentship may very well be for you. It is not an easy eight weeks, and despite this being the hottest summer since the sixties I have a suitably unimpressive tan, but I have had the most exceptional experience and will always look fondly back on the summer of 2013.


~ Heather Lockwood

3rd Year Medical Student 2013