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Intercalating in Medical Education

This week we're featuring the Masters in Medical Education (MMedEd) as part of our intercalation series. Check out Amy's experiences!

Do I want to intercalate?

Lots of people choose to intercalate for a huge variety of reasons, but it had never really been on my radar. In fact, I only decided to go for it a couple of minutes before the deadline. So if you, like me, haven’t yet planned for intercalating, please don’t let this stop you!


I think one of the biggest factors that initially acted as a barrier to me intercalating was the options. The only one I was ever aware of, or that anyone seemed to talk about, was MRes. I appreciate that for some people it is definitely the right choice, but for me it just was not of interest.


What do I want to intercalate in?

So, during the lead up to the application deadline, I decided it would be worth having a look at the options, just to be sure I was making the right decision by choosing not to intercalate. That was when I found the Masters of Medical Education degree (MMedEd).


I don't think many people were aware of the MMedEd degree or what it actually entailed (including the majority of us who chose to do it, which soon became evident when we started the course!). I think this is partly because not many people do it – in my cohort there were roughly 90 students doing an MRes, and only around 10 of us doing MMedEd.


I found that people tended to choose MedEd because they:

  • Weren’t sure what they wanted to do long-term career-wise
  • Liked teaching
  • Wanted to do something different
  • Didn’t have a supervisor/project organised.


These were also a lot of my reasons for choosing it in the end, and having completed the course, I think they are all entirely valid.


What are the good things about the course?

  • MMedEd is applicable to almost every career avenue in medicine. We are all a part of medical education, whether as a student or a qualified professional; we will all learn and teach others along the way.
  • You choose your project during the year, and can change and adapt it throughout, even leading up to the deadline.
  • All of the academic supervisors on my course were really supportive and approachable. Also, you are assigned a supervisor rather than actively having to find one before starting!
  • As mentioned, not many medics intercalate on the course, but lots of other professionals (doctors, nurses, teaching fellows etc.) do it either as a Masters or in certificate or diploma form. I loved being able to collaborate with such a huge range of people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise!
  • I had a lot more free time during MMedEd than I was ever used to when doing my medical degree. This gave me the opportunity to get a part-time job and get more involved in extra-curricular societies and events. The flexible timetable allows your contact hour days to be moved around easily, which is a great help for those who have jobs, families, or other commitments.


What are the challenges or the things I didn’t realise before?

  • Teaching is something I really enjoyed and had actively pursued throughout my time as a student, so I was attracted to the modules because I thought they would be practical. It's worth highlighting to anyone considering MMedEd that you absolutely can get involved in practical teaching opportunities (and some of the assignments include a teaching component), but the course itself does not focus entirely on teaching you to teach.
  • MMedEd is a social science degree, which is very different to doing medicine or other science-based degrees like the MRes. I think those with a very “scientific” mind initially struggled with there being 100 right answers rather than 1. However, I really enjoy thinking theoretically and outside the box, and the degree allows for abstract thinking and creativity.
  • Most of the course is assignment-based, with just one exam, which is different to what most medics are used to. Some people realised it wasn’t for them, which is totally fine! I was attracted by the opportunity to do something related to medicine, but totally different to what I had spent 4 years doing so far.


Would I recommend intercalating?

Despite never planning to do it, and clearly having no idea what I was signing up for, I would 100% recommend intercalating! I think it’s worth looking into, even if it’s just to confirm that it’s absolutely not for you.


In my opinion MMedEd is a great choice for anyone who likes to think a bit more abstractly or try something new, anyone who is interested in education, or anyone who isn’t sure what they want to do long-term – education will definitely be applicable whatever you do!

Guest Blog: Amy Cresswell, 21.12.2018


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