Posted by: medicblog999 | September 28, 2010

Day One of University – Shock and Awe!

So, this is a double blinded trial then??

Today was the first day of a three year road to a Masters in Clinical Research.

I didn’t have any expectations for the day. I didn’t know who would be on the course (apart from the other 2 paramedics from my service who were successful in their scholarship applications too), and I didn’t know what the level of the subject matter was going to be.

I know now!

As far as who are my fellow students……They are a really good mix of medical professionals. I think that all of them apart from us three paramedics have some working knowledge of clinical research. A large chunk of them are doctors or Research nurse specialists already working in the field and participating in various clinical trials.

As for the level of the subject matter; this first year leads to the initial qualification of a Post Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research. The fact that it is post graduate appears to me to assume that a certain working knowledge was to be expected from most in the room. Our module leader seemed a little surprised when during the evaluation at the end of the day she asked if it was ‘new knowledge’ to any of us, and the three of us all said ‘Yes’.

The most important thing for me though, was that I kept up; asked alot of relevant questions to try and clarify things in my head so that I can move past the feeling of bewilderment towards a general low level understanding of some of the more important legal and procedural issues that I will have to address as I move through my studies and on towards a possible career in a research setting.

I was excited to be there, looking forward to that feeling where my brain starts to work overtime and I start to get that buzz I like when I know I am learning something that I am interested in. The academic staff seem to be really friendly and supportive and I really feel that even though this is going to be very challenging, its something that I should be able to get through.

We were fortunate to be taught all about the International ‘Good Clinical Practice Guidelines’ by a national expert; someone who managed somehow to make this three hour block very interesting. I love listening to people who really, really know their subject, to the level that they don’t even have to look at the PowerPoint slides but instead just discuss the facts and the relevant issues that we need to start to appreciate. It was a great morning followed by another couple of interesting lectures in the afternoon.

The only trouble I had was by the middle of the afternoon I was starting to realise that this really is going to be some serious hard work. By the end of the afternoon, I actually had that feeling where my head actually felt full. I was at saturation point for the day and just as we finished, I knew that nothing more could fit in there today!

We have our first assignment. They are easing us in by asking us to provide a CV which has been completed using an online tool essential to gain permissions for research from various regulatory bodies. Then, just as we were about to leave, we were all hit with a bomb shell.

“This first assignment is easy, it won’t take you long. But, be prepared for the next two. We expect that each one will take approximately 40/50 hours of work to complete to the required standard”

That’s a projected 80-100 hours of work before the hand in date at the end of November!!!

Oh Crap!

What made us feel a little better though was some of the Doctors saying exactly the same as us on the way out of class:

“Bloody Hell, that was so far above my head it’s just not funny!!!”



  1. Very cool and exciting

  2. Finally managed to access your post! Sounds like it was a tough day for you, but I’m sure that not only will you cope, but in three years time you will leave with a good Masters degree and with fantastic skills and potential.

    Good luck, you can do it!

    • Thanks Alistair!

  3. Aw, heck, Mark, you’ll be fine. You wouldn’t have made it into the program if you didn’t have what it takes to make it out successfully. And if the RDs (real doctors) are worried, you’re golden. What’s that saying? Oh, yeah, “Doctors save lives, and paramedics save doctors.”

    • It was refreshing to here them say it was tough!

      The course leader actually had a warning for them. They have found that the only ones who have nearly failed the course in the last year were the medics. The faculty seem to think that the medics think they know all of this stuff already so maybe dont put as much work in as us ‘thickos’.

  4. Hope all goes well for you.

    I recall my first day as a fresher when reading law at Seffield University. Sitting in bar 1, and clutching a pint of beer, I looked around me and saw the fresh faced 18 year olds enjoying their first taste of freedom.

    As a mature student, I recollected my days in basic training in the forces, and my subsequent service as a ambulance worker. I looked at them with fatherly concern, and pity, til the next morning when I realised that those same ‘kids’ took this old buggers bones back to his digs.

    • Mrs 999 dropped me off, laughing, and saying that she would put money on me being the oldest on the course! Thankfully that hasnt happened and the whole cohort seems to be made up of mature students. Maybe thats just due to the subject matter?

  5. As we know you are not work shy Mark , you will be fine – shattered, tired, pickled head etc., but fine none the less.

    • I will certainly go with the shattered, tired and pickle headed ! Lol

  6. Oh dear Mark, this is lovely. We all know you will excel in your classes and projects. I for one am glad to come along for the ride. Please spare no details.

  7. Research has a lot to do with being aware of any of your own potential biases. Based on your writing, this should come to you more easily than to most people.

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