How an online MSc in Clinical Trials provided a competitive edge in my career…

…by Ida / from Scotland / MSc Clinical Trials (online) / Graduate

As I progressed through my surgical training in Otorhinolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat), I found that I have a lot of clinical questions like the outcome of particular surgical techniques, reliability of certain screening methods and many more, that I cannot simply find in textbooks or journals. I also felt that while there are mountains of published articles in my field, I was unsure on how to discern good quality studies that I could be confident to guide my clinical practice. These and the desire to be able to ask answerable questions through clinical research inspired me to embark in the MSc in Clinical Trials with the University of Edinburgh.

I undertook the 3-year online programme while undergoing my surgical training and juggling family life. The programme was very well organised and managed, and delivered in virtual-friendly environment, which made it feasible for me in terms of time commitment – I could easily fit in Moodle classroom after work or after my children have gone to bed! Just like a traditional face-to-face degree, I had a dedicated supervisor who supported and guided me through the entire course. Furthermore, the programme attracts students from all over the world and from various related career backgrounds that made the online group meetings very interesting, exciting and sociable, despite our time differences! I always looked forward to the meetings and while we only ever met online, I truly felt part of the group.

Since earning my MSc degree in 2017, I have also completed my surgical training in the UK and recently completed an advanced Fellowship in Otology, Neurotology and Cochlear Implant surgery in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The knowledge and skills I have gained through my MSc have been of tremendous help and benefit. It provided me with a great platform and confidence to lead quality improvement projects on developing a pathway for the screening of Vestibular Schwannoma and re-designing the ENT-vertigo service. The outcomes and recommendations from both projects have so far been successfully implemented – of course, these still need to be audited and re-audited.

I am also very excited to be able to utilise my research skills as I had the opportunity to lead and co-ordinate the Southern New Zealand-wide study on Newborn Hearing Screening and language outcomes in paediatric cochlear implants, and as I am also now about to embark on a meta-analyses project in collaboration with the University of Otago. I am very glad that I kept the tutorial and lecture notes, as they came in very handy!

Another important reflection and realisation as I am getting more involved in clinical research is that other than acquiring essential research skills, the MSc also enhanced my credibility to be part of a larger collaborative network and gave me a competitive edge for grant applications.

The MSc in Clinical Trials has certainly been and will continue to be instrumental in my career progression. I have recently been appointed as Consultant ENT surgeon with special interest in Otology in Glasgow, UK and one of the objectives for the post is to re-invigorate the clinical trial/research programme in the group. It is an exciting time and I look forward to the challenges and rewarding experiences as I continue to learn and develop as a surgeon-trialist.

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