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Branagh Crealock-Ashurst

Third (at time of interview: July 2020)

Hometown: Reading
Education: BSc (Hons) Medical Microbiology and Virology (University of Warwick)

What work experience had you gained before coming here?

During my undergraduate degree I held both term time and holiday time positions that enabled me to get the required hours for the work experience requirements. During term time I worked as a first aider at the Warwick Students Union, assisting security staff during SU events to ensure the safety of the attendees. Then, during the holidays I worked as a bank Health Care Assistant (HCA) at a local community hospital near my home. Working as an HCA was where I got the bulk of my work experience hours and it was by far the most useful and insightful job I could have done. Being an HCA allowed me to get a real feel for what working in the NHS was like, and also allowed me to experience the highs and lows of healthcare. It also provided invaluable experience in patient communication and in basic clinical procedures. If you’re looking for something health-care related to do in the run up to applying, definitely look at getting on the bank as an HCA, you won’t regret it!

Why did you choose Warwick?

Having been at Warwick already as both an undergraduate student and a staff member, the campus holds a special place in my heart! I’ve particularly enjoyed being able to study in an area with a wonderful aesthetic. There are a multitude of green spaces and forest walks nearby, as well as on the campus itself. Warwick also hosts a plethora of student societies, of which I have been involved with many over the past 7 years here. Finally, my personal highlight, we are extremely lucky to have the Warwick Arts Centre (WAC) on our doorstep, enabling us to watch and experience all manner of productions, exhibitions and cultural activities. Having been a member of several student drama societies, the WAC has been an absolute mainstay of my time here at Warwick and I wouldn’t have done half the things I’ve done here without their expertise and skill.

How are you finding the MB ChB so far? How have your clinical placements been?

So far, the MBChB has been an absolute delight! The first year was more like a normal undergraduate degree and we spent most of our time doing lectures rather than clinical activities. Whilst at times this didactic learning style felt like ‘more of the same’, I’ve come to appreciate the solid foundation that this year provided. So much of a doctor’s clinical work relies on a working knowledge of diseases processes, pharmacology and so much more. Without first year lectures, it would have been a real struggle to learn this all doing just ward work.

Clinical placements have been fantastic, and really allowed us to put our theory and clinical skills into practice. It’s wonderful being on the wards, talking to patients and assisting staff. As a medical student you are in a privileged position to allow you to observe and get involved in as much as you can. From on-call shifts, to theatre observations and clinic work, it’s been an amazing learning experience.

What do you most enjoy about the course?

So far, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to experience all aspects of medicine, including surgery, psychiatry and community. Being given opportunities to immerse yourself in lots of specialties really allows you to get a clear idea of what happens on the “patient journey”, and that in future, when you refer a patient to a speciality, you know exactly the processes they will experience.

I have also really enjoyed our community placements. These give us an opportunity to experience the holistic side of medicine and have exposed us to chronic conditions and how they are managed in the community. I have seen some of the most interesting and kind patients in this setting and I’m really thankful for this opportunity.

Have you been involved in any extracurricular activities during your time here?

Yes! Even though you’re studying Medicine it doesn’t mean you should give up what you enjoy in life! I’ve been lucky enough to be able to perform in two musical theatre shows whilst studying Medicine, as well as perform in the annual MedSoc revue. The highlight of these was performing as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Music Theatre Warwick’s production of Guys and Dolls. This was done in the main theatre of the Warwick Arts Centre on campus, and the experience as a whole provided fantastic opportunities to relax after a hard day’s study at the hospital.

The annual MedSoc revue is an activity that I would strongly recommend getting involved in. It gives you the chance to have a great laugh with other medics from all year groups and poke fun at Medicine in general for the entertainment of your coursemates.

Do you have any idea at this stage about which specialty you’d like to pursue?

It changes every week! I came into medical school desperate to study paediatrics but I’ve found myself really enjoying cardiology. Maybe a paediatric cardiologist perhaps?!

Do you have any advice for people applying to the MB ChB at Warwick?

Yes, sounds cliché but be yourself, and at interview, make sure to smile! I know how nerve-wracking this application process can be, but on the day if you take a deep breath before each station and go in with a big smile it can really make a difference.

Finally, what three words would you use to describe your experience studying at Medical School so far?

Engaging, insightful and exciting!