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Mastering the Intercalation

Considering intercalation? Academic hopeful Jess gives us the low down on the Masters by Research, the first in our intercalation blog series.

There are lots of motives for doing an intercalation – prestige, glamour, putting off adulthood… I make no secret of being very pro-academia, and I applied for my intercalated Masters degree with eyes full of evidence-based wonder. For me, the intercalation was one of my best years at university, and I came out even more excited about research and with some publications and posters under my belt. However, I’ve split the masters experience into three mindsets:

I want to be an academic

If you’ve already decided you’re headed down the research pathway, the MRes is ideal. You will gain expertise, exposure, and potentially some publication opportunities too! Aside from your actual project experience (which can be clinical or lab-based), there are taught modules to expand your medical and scientific knowledge and abilities. Take your stats courses seriously, they are priceless!

I might want to be an academic

Most medical students hate being asked what they’re going to do after med school. It may seem excessive to take a whole year to inform that decision, but it is wise. Not only can you explore multiple specialties/areas through your taught and research modules, but you will have a lot of self-directed time to explore interests in education, leadership, or anything else.

I don’t want to be an academic

A lot of intercalating medics have no intention of pursuing academia at all. But aside from the skills mentioned in the previous paragraph, the MRes will give you those crucial points for foundation and specialty training application! So it's definitely worth considering.


Of course, there are also some reasons not to do a masters. And if you don't think its the path for you, you don't have interest in the subject or aren't eligible to intercalate, don't worry. It isn't for everyone, and your career is unlikely to be limited by a decision at this stage! 


My final advice for anyone wondering about intercalation is speak to current and previous intercalators and potential supervisors. Happy researching!


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Guest Blog: Jess Leighton, 15.10.2018


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