Reflections as a black medical student

by Adewale Kukoyi

Reflections

During lockdown, I’ve had ample time to reflect.

To reflect on my first year at University, all the positives and negatives, the pedantic learning techniques I used and my overall perspective on Medicine. However, more profoundly, I’ve reflected on my own position, and the value I can potentially share with others from my community or background who may believe where I am is unachievable for them.

Including me, there are only six black male students in my year group of roughly 270.

As one of very few, I felt it essential to share my experiences with others from a similar background to me so that they can take the necessary steps to start their medical journey

Volunteering

The opportunity to give back arose when approached by Medic Mentality – an upcoming medical school initiative, aiming to increase representation in Medicine through mentorship services, personal statement reviews, events, and UCAT/BMAT advice. They asked me to join them on an Instagram live to discuss my experience as a Bristol medical student. Founded by Aderonke Odetunde, Maria Taiwo, Osas Ogbeide, Nehita Oviojie and Toni Oduwole (all 2nd-year medical students at UCL) aims to equip students from underprivileged backgrounds with the confidence to make the application to medical school. Despite only launching in July 2020, the scheme already has 30 mentees.

@medicmentality (Instagram)

I have also joined various organisations who work to empower younger generations through mentorship and provision of resources. I am currently a mentor with The Black Excellence Network and BME Medics Bristol Year 2 Lead. In both roles, I work with prospective medical students by providing tailor-made consultations over their applications, helping with drafts of their personal statements, and giving an insight into life at Bristol.

As well as working with prospective medical students, I also work with other current medical students, and I am an active member of the newly formed Black Medic Plexus. We are a network which prides itself in building a strong community and network for black medical students across the UK. The platform was created (and founded by the brilliant Sharon Amukamara) to create a supportive space for black medics based on community and work-life balance.

My advice

My biggest tip for black students looking to enter Medicine (or Higher Education in general!) would be to have the self-confidence to apply. There are so many mental barriers you can put yourself under, ranging from imposter syndrome (feeling of not belonging) to a lack of role-models. My advice would be to reach out to any organisations (like the ones I’m part of) for guidance, information and the belief that you are capable of excelling in your chosen field.

Finally, I would also urge any medical student to get involved and recognise the value they can exchange with others. We are in a position that is hard to access and providing any help along the way is vital in uplifting future generations.

by Adewale Kukoyi

 

Digital learning resources available for you!

Although this is a difficult time for everyone, we are here to ease the transition to online learning and provide you with all the technical support and advice you need.   

There are plenty of useful online resources available to you.  

These include:  

  • Study from home – looks at ways to manage your time and workspace, how to work towards learning outcomes and how to get the most out of online study.
  • Online open-book exams guidance  – looks at ways to prepare for and answer open book exams effectively.
  • Student laptop and mobile clinic goes virtual – The laptop and mobile clinic is a free service to help current University of Bristol students who are having problems with laptops, tablets or smartphones. The clinic will run weekdays from 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm.
  • Study Skills blogs
  • Dissertation Writing Retreats and Study Loungesboth aimed at offering students an online environment to work “in the same space” as others. Throughout May, there are lots of workshops including specific ones about online study and online exams all bookable
  • Online tutorials, including help with maths and statistics – offer a great opportunity to discuss your work in a confidential, safe space with an experienced and professional tutor. 
  • Accessing IT systems from home – quick links to the University IT systems such as Blackboard, Collaborate, specialist software and more. 
  • Study Skills sessions – enhance your academic skills with our range of self-help online resources, get quick advice at our 15 minute drop-in sessions with Bristol Futures Advocates, choose from a range of workshops or book a one-to-one tutorial with a Study Skills tutor.
  • Free library online resources  – access free online resources, including ebooks, ejournals, and databases to help support you.
  • Top tips for working from home  – Bristol SU provide some useful tips for working and studying remotely.  

There is further information on the Teaching, Assessment and academic guidance webpage.

 

Lydia’s MSc shaped her career path

‘I initially chose the MSc at Bristol as I wanted practical training in wildlife health and this course stood out to me. During my Masters however, I discovered that I really enjoyed the research side. I want to be part of the answer and provide useful research to inform wildlife conservation management on a larger scale.

I’ve just started a PhD at the University of Southampton where I’m researching hunting patterns in Belize. I managed to publish my thesis, supported by my excellent supervisor, which has really helped me to stand out from the crowd and secure this next opportunity.

My MSc has shaped my career path and I’m proud that my research will make a difference on an international scale.’

Lydia Katsis, MSc Global Wildlife Health and Conservation

Read about Lydia’s research in Kenya and how this is informing conservation strategy.

 

Read why Sam’s postgraduate studies enabled him to follow his passion

Having a good relationship with his project supervisor inspired Sam to progress from an undergraduate course to an MSc and currently a PhD, all here in Bristol.

‘It’s a really exciting time for nuclear robotics and I feel my path to date has led me to an industry I’m passionate about. I’m currently researching robotic scanning of nuclear waste which could address the issue of nuclear waste storage and make it more accurate and cost effective.

I chose to stay at Bristol as the positive and open ethos within the University lends itself towards innovation and the prospect of interesting and exciting future research.

I became friends with some really fantastic people during the course and I’ve extended my professional network too. I’m sure further opportunities will open up in this field in the future and because of my postgraduate studies, I’ll be ready when they do!’

Sam White, MSc Nuclear Science and Engineering / PhD in Nuclear Robotics

Adventures in France: my year abroad

Jaw-dropping scenery; unique personal development; enriching relationships with people from across the world; a year practically dedicated to eye-opening, inspirational experiences: doesn’t sound like a bad year, does it?

My name is Steve, and I’m a 4th year, studying Music and French. Having spent my year abroad in Bordeaux and Lyon, I returned to Bristol to see last year’s year abroad students swarming the streets again. Our first conundrum: how do we approach *that* first conversation?

If you’re late for a lecture, it’s option A: ‘yeah, the year abroad was good thanks!’ Option B is the elaborate five minute epic poem describing everything that has seismically shifted over the year. Nope – five minutes is never enough!

Mind you, five minutes is ample to make observations about what has changed. Most returners are human adverts for what their year abroad experience has brought to them. Some are wiser and more confident; others are more open-minded; many have been completely inspired. Thereafter, each will treat you to a different story of how it all unfolded… just like this:

Build me up, build me up…

Needless to say, the year abroad experience can be a huge challenge. In fact, those first three months of my time abroad were some of the toughest of my life. Plunged out of my comfort zones of city, family and friends, the expression ‘fish out of water’ comes to mind. Would I have opted for a more convenient, relaxing placement to have avoided those tough first three months in Lyon? Non, absolument pas, because it’s all an exposure which forces you to develop in unique ways. At the end of the year, the fish returns to the river having learnt how to breathe air, and I enjoy being an air-breathing fish. This unique personal development is pretty much a given when forcing your brain to adapt to a new language and culture for as much as one month, let alone eleven.

Inspired

I’ve chosen the subtitle ‘inspired’ for a specific reason, which involved something more special than a bit of personal development…

Imagine a typical 21st birthday party. You may picture a marquee in the garden with everyone dressed up, or perhaps party balloons and a juggler. Well, I’m all for clowns and gowns, but as a June baby on a placement that finished in July, I needed to think outside the box when 17 June came around.

It had all the hallmarks of an underwhelming day. I had under-slept, having submitted my year abroad essay the night before a Monday at work; I was translating tourist information; and I had no evening plans. So, I hurriedly got in touch with my friends who hadn’t yet left the city: ‘Quais de Saone, tonight at 8 pm?’

The scene was set: the sun was going down over the Fourvière Basilica, and a smattering of my dear friends gathered round me in the late-night summer heat. On another day, the sunset may have inspired me. Or perhaps the view of the Basilica, reflected in the torrents of the river. This time, the real cherry on the birthday cake was the people that came.

Today’s news bombards us with stories of nations in conflict with nations, and the struggle of integration in multicultural communities. Meanwhile, here were 10 people representing Lithuania, Sweden, the UK, Colombia, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy using words, not weapons; laughter, not threats. The uniqueness of their humour, their intriguing philosophies and their cultural insight didn’t collide or clash, but combined in beautiful harmony that I had never witnessed before. It was conversation for conversation’s sake, and laughter for laughter’s sake, with contrasting backgrounds, races and religions, and we never once risked any dissonance or discontent.

I took a step back, felt the warm breeze, and gazed over the river, the view and the sunset, contemplating this moment that only a year abroad experience could produce – one of the most utopian I’d ever witnessed. The sun was setting over my year abroad experience, with a moment to remind me what a heartening asset multiculturalism is to modern society. Since then, I have still been seeing those same dystopian stories of warfare and persecution around the world. But at least now I have hope that one day, the planet may have the same universal harmony as those 10 people on the riverbank.

Find out how you can study, work or volunteer abroad at the Global Opportunities fair on 22 October.

Top tips for student life

Welcome Week has now passed, and we hope you are settling in well! Here are some top tips from your University community on how to manage student life using their own personal experiences.

Making friends…

Sarah Ashley, Marketing Officer (Postgraduate) – Welcome Week is a great time to meet people, have fun and explore your new city but don’t worry if you don’t immediately click with people. I didn’t meet the people I’m still friends with now (10 years after graduation) until I was almost at the end of my second year.

Annie Avery, Student Living Room Coordinator – Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re having ‘the best time of your life’ give lots of opportunities a chance and you’ll find your people

Living in halls…

Robert Smart, Partnerships Manager – If in Halls, get to know your reception teams and staff. They are friendly and can make things happen, particular if you talk to them!

Paul Arnold , SU Head of Business Development – When you move into halls and are getting settled in to your room, pop your door open to let people know you want to say hi and make friends!

Jemma Harford, SU Student Opportunities Manager (Groups and Services) – Bring food to share, your new accommodation can be daunting but everyone loves food. Bring some homemade biscuits, local treats or cook a flat meal together that incorporates all of your favourite foods.

Studying…

Marton Balaz, Reader in Probability (Mathematics) – In my first weeks of studies I realized that difficult concepts settle. Material that seemed shockingly complicated in the first week became rather natural two weeks later. I just had to look back in my notes again. So, don’t panic! revisit difficult stuff regularly.

Susan Pettinger-Moores, Medicine Teaching and Learning Manager – Pop in and meet the admin team for your course – we don’t bite! We have lots of knowledge and really want to see students succeed.

Look after yourself..

Simon Gamble, Head of Study Skills – Don’t worry about trying to be perfect. It’s fine to get things wrong and it’s good to try new things, because that’s how we grow and learn.

Tom Wallis, SU Student Development Coordinator (Sports and Physical Activity). If you don’t immediately feel at home, work and broaden your horizons; your people and your place are somewhere and they’re waiting for you to find them.

Chloe Hogan, SU Events Coordinator – Don’t put too much pressure on yourself that “university is the best time of your life”. Enjoy each moment as it comes and don’t put pressure on yourself to do too much as this will burn you out!

Managing your time…

Elle Chilton-Knight, Undergraduate Student Administrator – Get everywhere 5 minutes early! You’ll get best pick of seats/equipment and it makes all the difference towards a calm, confident exterior. From there you’ll be chatting to people in no time!

Getting involved…

Helen Dury, Portfolio Marketing Manager – University is the perfect opportunity to try new things. I joined a ski club and competed around the country and met someone I’m still great friends with now, nearly 30 years later!

Philip Gravatt, SU Finance Assistant -My tip would be to look into all the societies and clubs available at the Students Union. They’re a fantastic way of learning something new and easing academic stress.

Matt Humberstone, SU Student Development Coordinator – Join a student group! For many students, their student group becomes the best part of their university experience.

Jenny Reeve, Lecturer in Small Animal Medicine – Take every opportunity to get involved with new activities, skills or social events that you have not had the chance to do before – there is such a vibrant and diverse student population, it is a great way to meet others who share your interests. There is so much more to University life than your academic program – have fun!

Explore the city..

Robbie Fox, Alumni Mentoring Coordinator – Explore this amazing city! I came here as a student , fell in love with the place and have been here ever since! This video is a nice example.

Linda Gerrard, Residential and Hospitality Services – Get your walking shoes on and get lost! Around most corners there is something to delight, amuse or inform.

Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, Undergraduate Education Officer – My one piece of advice for new students would be to not confine themselves to the University bubble. Get out and discover new places and cultures in the city – Easton, St Pauls, and Stokes Croft are the perfect places to start!

Lauren Wardle, Student Wellbeing Adviser – Explore the city as a whole, and get involved in hobbies and interests that make you ‘you’! You might find your interests lead to new friends, or even some job opportunities down the line.

Services available to you..

Knut Schroeder, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer – Download our free Student Health App, which is listed on the NHS Apps Library. It’s been developed by the University of Bristol Students’ Health Service and University of Bristol students, and it’s packed with common-sense health advice that can make all the difference for your health and wellbeing. You can even customise the app for Bristol when you open it up for the first time.

Lauren Cole, Careers Information Advisers – Pop in to your Careers Service and get to know the support you can access. We can help you find and apply for part time work, internships and work experience, graduate roles, or start your own business!

Find Your Potential

Six top tips for study success

You did it! You got your place! And right now, you’re probably packing and thinking about what you’ll need to start student life in Bristol next week. You might be wondering about what life at university will be like; whether you’ll need one saucepan or four; thinking about who you’ll meet and which societies to get involved in.

With so much to think about, studying may not be right at the top of your list right now! But do read this later for top tips to help you build great study skills to keep on top of academic life right from the start.

 

Tip 1: Get to know your personal tutor

Your personal tutor – everyone has one— will help you to get the most out of your time here at Bristol. They provide feedback on your work and general info about your course, advise on study skills and choosing options, and help with personal development planning. Importantly, if you are struggling with financial, health or other problems, they can also signpost you to our support services to get the help you need.

At the moment, we’re also looking for new 1st year undergraduate students to help us develop personal tutoring further – Visit our website to find out more.  

Tip 2: Start your Personal Development Plan early

Personal Development Planning (PDP) helps you reflect on your skills, attributes and achievements, and plan for your future personal, academic and career development.  As part of this, you should create a PDP portfolio to record your progress as you move through your degree. Your personal tutor will help you with this. Find out more on the PDP tab and check out our Bristol Skills Framework to get started.

Tip 3: Expand your horizons with our Optional/Open Units

Some of our degree programmes are flexible so you can choose from a range of optional/open units and explore topics outside your discipline. Bristol Futures Optional Units will help you develop new perspectives studying themes such as global citizenship, big data, innovation, and sustainability. Alternatively hone your language skills with our University-Wide Language Programmes – and if your degree doesn’t allow you to choose these units (check with your School office), you can always follow one of our Bristol Futures open online courses, starting 19 October 2019. You can apply for your open/optional units via the Online Open Unit Selection form during Welcome Week (open from 9 am, 23 September to 12 pm, 25 September). Visit our website to find out more.

Tip 4: Study Skills for you

Studying at University may feel a bit daunting at first, but make use of our Study Skills Service, offering workshops, online training and other useful resources. In particular, check out our Upgrade to University course to develop a suite of study skills to help you through your degree.

Tip 5. Represent your Students’ Union

As well as getting to grips with studying at University, you could also think about becoming a student representative for the SU, responsible for raising academic concerns for students. First year course reps, Junior Common Room (JCR) reps, the Postgraduate Network Chair and committee members are among the opportunities up for grabs. Find out more on the SU website.

Tip 6: Follow the Library on social media

Checking up on the collections!

Following the Library Twitter feed is a must! A super useful  source of information about where to study, it’s a great way of getting to know our many libraries and study spaces, with options for group and individual study, and where to find chill out zones for those all-important breaks. It provides interesting facts about our collections, our knowledgeable and dedicated library staff… and some of our special custodians. (Reader, I draw your attention to Mort the resident skeleton in the Medical Library). It’s also worth checking out the Library’s other social channels: Facebook and Instagram to keep in touch.  And read the Library’s special welcome to new students.

That’s it from us for now! In the meantime….happy packing! See you in Bristol!

One of our former students has written you a welcome letter – look out for this on our Freshers’ 2019 Facebook group later this week!

Get your voice heard through your course rep!

Bristol Students’ Union and our University work together to give you the best university experience possible. Student course reps are an important part of the picture; they play a key role in sharing your concerns and issues with teams in the University who can make a difference.

Course reps are your ‘on-the-ground’ students, democratically elected to represent your academic interests and any concerns to the University. They can directly influence change in the schools they represent, making sure student voices are heard. Their job is to find out the things their course mates like or would like changed; anything from deadlines being too close together to not having enough bins in buildings.

Introducing the Education Network

We've got your back – especially when it comes to representing your academic interests! Here's a little introduction to The Education Network, which exists to improve all students' educational experience at Bristol.The Education Network is open to everyone, but automatically includes Academic Course Reps, Faculty Reps, Education Officers, and Academic Society Committees. You can join the Facebook group here >> http://bit.ly/2ThuEFO

Posted by Bristol SU on Thursday, 15 November 2018

Course reps share these items with University colleagues and work out ways that they can be changed – or find out why they can’t be. They have done amazing work to benefit students: for example, getting printer credits put on course accounts, feeding into building proposals, and moving the dates of reading weeks.

Staff in schools want to make student life the best it can be, but they often don’t know what the issues are. If you think of something, tell your course rep, so they can let University staff know. Find out who your course rep is on the Bristol SU website. 

Course rep elections, run by the SU, are held in March and October. Keep an eye out around campus for your chance to nominate yourself or to recommend a friend.  Being a course rep is an effective way of influencing change in your school and of getting a sense of what happens behind the scenes at our University. It also looks great on a CV.

Visit the Bristol SU Website to find out more.

Tis the season to…take a break.

Festive greetings from Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President and the University Management Team.

The holiday season is almost upon us. Although the University closes for Christmas on 21 December, you can still access some of our facilities over the break. Take a look at the services and support available over the holidays.

Merry Bristmas!

Bristol SU Living Room

If you’re staying in Bristol during the holidays, there’s still plenty going on including seasonal activities at the newly launched Bristol SU Living Room taking place from 17 – 20 December. You can also hear more about events taking place in the local area while the University is closed and meet other students who might be staying in Bristol during this time.

Don’t forget to join the UoB Staying in Bristol at Christmas Facebook page. All students are welcome to join and you can find out more about other events such as the Christmas lunch with all the trimmings and a Boxing Day Tour around the historic listed Goldney Gardens and Grotto.

Relax and unwind

The holiday season is the perfect time to take a breather and unwind ahead of the New Year. You don’t need us to tell you about all the benefits of sport and activity; it’s well known how positive an effect it can have on your mental and physical wellbeing. For those staying in Bristol, the indoor sports centre will still be open part of the time together with the Students’ Health Service. You can find out about opening hours here.

Academic support

Ease the pressure of the January exam period by getting clued up on all the academic support and tools available to you on the Study Support pages. Brush up on your revision techniques and exam preparation with these online tutorials; Revision planning, Revision techniques, Exam papers & questions and Exams & Wellbeing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your studies, maybe take some time to reflect on what you think could help you when we reopen. Start a portfolio with Personal Development Planning (PDP) and jot down which areas you feel you could use some guidance on.

See all the Academic Support on offer for you through our Study Support pages.

Many of our services are still open while you’re away from your studies; even during the University closure dates we have study areas open and some of our services running. You can see the opening hours here.

Stay connected

We know that the festive season isn’t easy for everyone so if you want to talk to someone, you will be able to access support via our Residential Life Support Centre, open to all students for urgent issues, whether you live in Uni residences or not. There are also self-help tools to provide support, including Big White Wall.

While students are not officially back until 14 January, the University reopens on 3 January and we’ll be here for you if you have any questions.  You can contact your Personal Tutor, speak to our Information Point and use the libraries and study areas.

From all of us at the University of Bristol, we wish you a restful break. Happy Holidays!

#TisTheSeason 🌟