Medical graduate Dr Philip Macklin talks to us about how a distance learning postgraduate qualification he completed while a junior doctor revealed a passion for understanding the scientific basis of disease.
Philip Simon Macklin
Medical Biology (BSc [Hons]), Medicine (MBChB), Surgical Sciences (MSc)
|Year of Graduation||
2006, 2009, 2012
Your time at the University
I chose to study at Edinburgh because of the wonderful city – little did I know on my arrival about the history and reputation of the medical school! I had a fantastic time as a student and loved the combination of intellectual stimulation and social interactions. My favourite memories include walking the city’s streets, The Meadows in the summer and nights on the town with my friends. Funnily, I also have fond memories of the time spent studying late into the night in the library and computing suites – although hard work, it was very rewarding to be able to meet the varying academic challenges provided by my courses of study. Also, graduations are memorable because of the opportunity to spend time in the city with loved ones.
I chose to study for the Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification (ESSQ) for several reasons. Firstly, I had completed my medical degree in Edinburgh and was familiar with the high standards of education provided by the University. After qualifying in medicine, I wanted to continue to develop my understanding of the subject and had been particularly attracted to the surgical specialties as an undergraduate. Thus, the ESSQ seemed a natural choice when I made the decision to register for a part-time, distance learning MSc. Finally, postgraduate qualifications are increasingly important and I felt that this course would prepare me for the Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons examinations and give me an advantage when applying for specialty training posts. Having discussed the ESSQ with friends who were already registered on the course, I decided that its flexible, online structure would be ideal for a junior doctor with busy on-call commitments.
In addition, I regularly undertake additional shifts as an Emergency Department doctor as I like patient contact and want to maintain the clinical skills that I learnt as a medical student and junior doctor.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
After qualifying in medicine, I was appointed to an Academic Foundation Programme in Oxford. This two-year post allowed me to combine general clinical training with opportunities to conduct research and undertake teaching. Following this, I took a one-year position as an anatomy demonstrator at King’s College, London. During these years, I was able to complete the ESSQ as well as pass the membership examinations for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. I found that studying for the ESSQ was ideal preparation for these examinations and I managed to pass both the written and practical components at my first attempts.
Through these studies, I became more aware that my real passion was for understanding the scientific basis of disease. I therefore applied for specialty training in Histopathology and am currently completing my first year in this field within the Oxford Deanery. Although this has been a significant change from my previous ward-based jobs, Histopathologists play a crucial role in providing diagnostic and prognostic information to the clinical team and interact on a daily basis with a range of other doctors, including surgeons, physicians and radiologists, in order to provide the highest quality of care to patients. In addition, I regularly undertake additional shifts as an Emergency Department doctor as I like patient contact and want to maintain the clinical skills that I learnt as a medical student and junior doctor. I am also now an e-tutor for the ESSQ and enjoy passing on some of the knowledge that I gained from the course to its current students.
In the future, I hope to be able to take some time out of training to complete a higher research degree with the ultimate aim of becoming an academic doctor who combines diagnostic practice with basic science research.
Enjoy it and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Pay attention to your studies but make sure you spend time doing lots of other things, there will be plenty of time to work after graduation! Your years at the University will be some of the best of your life.
Make the most of the regular discussion boards. Although it can be tempting to focus on completing coursework and on studying for the end-of-year examination, I feel that I learnt most from interacting with the other students and e-tutors. It was interesting to hear other people’s opinions on a wide range of topics and these often led me to a better understanding of the issues at hand. Furthermore, as a significant number of the students live and work overseas, the forums often provide perspectives on diseases and healthcare challenges that are totally different to those experienced by doctors working within the UK!