Rewind to the begining

First day back in the lab today, back to the place where I started this blog.

It was great to be back, nice to be doing something practical as opposed to sitting in a lecture theatre or at a computer all day.

So, basically for the next 3 or 4 months I will be working with human blood samples and extracting monocytes from them for further assays in order to see whether they have angiogenic properties (for my non-scientific readers, that means taking some cells out of the blood which are thought to be able to stimulate the growth of new blood vessels, useful for patients with blocked blood vessels). This data will then be used for clinical trials later in the year.

Its exciting work because it highlights the link between research and clinical medicine or “bench to bedside” as I think it is called…

…a long process of trials and failures and data analysis and approvals from various boards, that I think could be easily forgotten when spending days treating and prescribing.

Setting the alarm for 7am this morning did seem a little unfair, as the rest of the year who are doing a library project, essentially get Wednesdays off. But once I got to the lab and had a chat with Kate (the other med-student and friend who is doing this project with me) I knew that I had made the right choice.

It feels exciting to be a part of something that could be a future treatment, but it’s not just that, it’s working as part of a team and testing things out and being practical and feeling useful and being allowed to make mistakes and……

…….don’t get me wrong, today also served as a reminder of all the things I didn’t enjoy about my summer of research. Like the waiting around for samples and some of the steps in the experiments that take so long that I have nothing to do but sit and watch as drops of solution slowly filter through a tube until I feel like I might scream!

I still don’t feel like I understand half of what we are doing, I can perform the steps accurately but as soon as someone asks me to explain I get easily stumped and if something goes wrong I struggle to work out why or how.

I am hoping that by the end of this project in the lab I will have more of an idea of whether or not I should apply for the academic programme in medicine or the standard clinical programme at the end of year 5… but for now I am happy to be doing something a little different for 1 day a week and I hope that in a month or two when I am moaning that I wish I had Wednesdays free to catch up on lecture notes or revise for finals, that I remember how good it feels to be actively involved in some research.

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