Clinical Research and Innovation (CRI) module in year 2: I went to Nigeria!

Paulina Cecula, Year 5By Paulina Cecula, Year 5

Many medical students are driven by making a positive impact. The same reason sparked my interest in global health, which is an area of medicine where you could potentially make an impact on a large scale. Global health is focussed on people across the whole planet rather than the concerns of nations and it recognises that health is determined by problems, issues and concerns that transcend national boundaries’ (Beaglehole, Bonita, 2010).

Imperial has a lot to offer for students interested in global health – whether you are only curious about it or rather confident that it’s something you’d like to pursue in the future- you’ll be able to find something for yourself, for example a BSc in Global Health. One of my favourite experiences during medical school was a Clinical Research and Innovation (CRI) module, which happens in the last term of 2nd year. Although, I am now in my 5th year, I remember the moment when I heard about CRI as if it was yesterday! I thought “this is why I came to Imperial!”. Most of us are interested in gaining research experience, especially while studying at a university known for its research, however the path to getting involved is often unclear. CRI bridges the gap. It offers 2nd year medical students a chance to get involved in various projects, from sequencing their own DNA, virtual reality and neural regeneration to community care in remote and deprived regions. Not only it helps us develop or grow an interest in a particular area but also enables us to develop research skills (data collection, analysis and presentation).

Paulina in NigeriaI was lucky to go to Abuja, Nigeria for my 3-week long CRI experience that was organised with a collaboration of a local NGO. Together with two other students, we investigated if HIV self-tests a cost-effective alternative for increasing the number of HIV tests conducted in an adult rural Nigerian community compared to expanding primary healthcare services. However, our experience was so much more than just the project itself. We visited many hospitals, schools and attended healthcare management meetings to learn more about the local healthcare system which allowed us to appreciate their unique challenges and differences between the systems.

Paulina during her experienceThe experience also had its challenges. We were thrown into a completely new environment, some of us being that far abroad for the very first time. The trip was sometimes emotionally heavy, especially when visiting rural parts of Abuja where we witnessed a huge disparity between wealthy and poor. We had a chance to appreciate cultural differences and understanding our privileges and things we take for granted. I’ve chosen to apply for the placement in Nigeria as I wanted to learn more about the work that NGOs do in developing countries and test my interest in global health. I believe I gained much more. The whole experience, and especially those various challenges, contributed to my personal growth and will do over years to come.

Paulina and her colleagues

Tips for Incoming Students

Academics and Research

Medical student Helena talks about the MBBS programme

Academics and Research

Year 2 student Helena talks about the programme and ways to get involved in academic and research

Student Life at Imperial

Student Life at Imperial

Video - Year 2 student Helena talks about the student community at Imperial

Year 2 student Helena explains tips for working from home

Working from Home

Year 2 student Helena explains tips for working from home

Top tips for working from home
by Pylin Parkes, Year 4Pylin Parkes, Year 4

Working from home sounded great at first: no crowded commute, all-day pyjama wear, the list could go on and on. However, I soon realised (alongside a significant proportion of the world’s population), that it can be quite hard to resist naps, snacks and other distractions which just leads to stress. So how can we combat this? Well, through some trial and error, I’ve come up with 5 pieces of advice to help you sail through remote working.


1.      Find a dedicated study space

No one wants their entire home to become a replacement library/study room, that makes it hard to relax. It’s also not ideal to have work interrupted every 5 minutes by noisy household members, or the TV enticing you to binge-watch your latest Netflix obsession. So find a space in the house that is quiet and can be used solely for studying. You don’t need a whole room, just a desk in your bedroom will do. But try to only do work at that desk and relax somewhere else. Then your brain will associate the area with work and get you into study-mode as soon as you sit down.

 2.      Have a routine

It’s easy to burn out if you there’s no official beginning and end to the workday. It’s also hard to get started if you’re not sat in a classroom. Make a timetable for the hours you will work every day and try to be realistic and consistent. Not sure how? A good starting point is to make a timetable similar to your old working patterns such as during school. But don’t forget to schedule in adequate breaks since a productive student is a well-balanced one, not a frazzled one.

 3.      Minimise distractions

I bet the first thing you thought of was your oh-so-tempting-phone. Try putting it in another room while you work, or place the screen facing down. Also, the pomodoro technique is great for people with short attention span and in need of motivation to work (me). Set a timer for 25 minutes of uninterrupted work, then a 5 minute break, and repeat. After 4 rounds, you can take a longer break. This can keep you productive and efficient if you aim to finish a small task each round, and motivated since you’re resting regularly.

 4.      Stay social

Studying can get boring but working with friends over video-calls can boost motivation and creativity. Talking can remind you of why you enjoyed your chosen subject in the first place, and help you get through difficult topics. Or at least they make your breaks more interesting!

 5.      Be kind to yourself

This includes being realistic and flexible. Don’t sweat it if your routine isn’t working for you anymore. For a couple of days, maybe cut down on your work hours and focus on efficiency, switch tasks or change your workspace. Also, look after your physical and mental health by going outside for some sunshine and keep up the hobbies that you can do from home.

We’re all adapting so if you’re struggling please reach out for help, you’re not alone!