Elliot Catchpole – MClinEd Clinical Education graduate

Year of graduation: 2016

Current employer: Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

Current job title: Bank Medical Student Support

Current location: Torquay

“If you are interested in pursuing a career in education, or want to do the academic foundation programme, then definitely consider doing the MClinEd as an intercalated degree!”
Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I did the MClinEd as my intercalated year during my medical degree at PCMD. I am now undergoing the final year of my medical degree in Torquay (whilst working at the RD&E part-time) with a plan to apply for the education-based academic foundation programme at Exeter next year.

Has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

Definitely. My degree has given me a real grounding in performing educational research, something that we had never done in medical school and with which I had minimal experience. It has taught me that research doesn’t have to be boring or scary!

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

That’s difficult to say, given that I only work part time! But I would probably say that having to fit in the PGCE, Diploma, and masters into a one-year intercalation was very tough: especially the dissertation at the end!

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Personally, I feel that teaching junior medical students in both small and large-group settings is extremely rewarding and I enjoy it immensely. I will be entering my fourth year as a near-peer teacher at the time of writing this, and I hope it will be a gateway to more ambitious educational ventures.

Imagine you were about to start university again - with the benefit of hindsight - what would you now tell yourself to have done differently?

I would probably tell myself to relax and not stress about the little details, get more involved in educational projects at a more junior position, and also get more involved with the student scene!

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

From a peer-teachers perspective, I would say to just take the chance and get involved in teaching! Make mistakes and push yourself out of your comfort zone slowly but surely – you don’t necessarily need a fancy degree to be a good and enthusiastic teacher!

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

The grounding in educational research, with the ability and knowledge to start and finish a project, will undoubtedly be very valuable throughout my entire career. In addition, the theory I learnt in MClinEd Clinical Education has aided me to identify areas of improvement for my current teaching.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

As a part of the dissertation, we were required to do some fieldwork to gather data; this also involved the use of data collection methods such as reflective diaries and focus groups, and the guidance we received from the University and our supervisors was extremely useful.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

I have so many good memories of Plymouth as I have also done two years as a pre-clinical medical student. However, I would probably say that relaxing with my friends on the Plymouth Hoe in the summer and going for tea and scones at the cosy Strand Tea Rooms on the seafront in the winter are definitely up there!

Do you stay in touch with other Plymouth University alumni or lecturers?

Many of my close friends started their degrees at Plymouth and I still keep in touch with them regularly. As a part of the MClinEd, I feel I have made a lot of useful academic contacts at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and CAMERA, which will be very useful in the future when I get involved in further educational projects.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Definitely, particularly the MClinEd as it is such a well-supported masters degree with some of the nicest lecturers and staff I have met, who you can contact at any time with any question no matter whether it is their specific area or not! It was a great transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study, and I would highly recommend it especially to intercalating medical students.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

To the fourth year medical students: if you are interested in pursuing a career in education, or want to do the academic foundation programme, then definitely consider doing the MClinEd as an intercalated degree! Not only will it get you lots of points on your application, but it will equip you with the skills necessary to undertake your own research in the future and will likely give you some publications in educational journals – a very worthwhile endeavour!