My Summer Placement – Filtering out the facts about research

Alice Pennington, 3rd Year Medical Student at Cardiff University

Alice Final

Having reached the midpoint in my 6 year medical degree, I applied to undertake a summer internship with DECIPHer. This 8-week, paid placement was provided through the CUROP (Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme) scheme.  I applied thinking that it would be useful to learn a little more about Public Health, and research in general. In addition, I had in mind the fact that Cardiff Medical School offers students the opportunity to take a year out of their degree to try their hand at other subjects. I had always wanted take advantage of this, and thought that a taster with DECIPHer would be a great opportunity to see if the rigor of research was for me!

So, I was offered a place and, before long, I was being presented with a desk and introduced to my new colleagues for the summer – and what a summer it was! I was involved in a number of projects, through which I learnt a multitude of new skills. I came to DECIPHer with almost no experience or understanding of how to search a database effectively. In my first few days, I slowly got to grips with using search strategies and rifling through masses of papers to find relevant literature. I would like to think that, by my last week at DECIPHer, my skills had significantly improved in this area!

Over the 8 weeks I mainly worked on the ‘Filter FE Challenge’ with Dr Ria Poole and Dr Graham Moore. This is a pilot trail and process evaluation of a multi-level smoking prevention intervention in Further Education (FE) settings. Performing background research into the links between smoking, drinking and part time work, or disposable income, was incredibly interesting. Furthermore, analysing the baseline data from the trail proved to be worthwhile as we found similar trends as those shown in the literature reviewed for the study. During my last few weeks I moved towards exploring the potential role of social media as a tool for smoking prevention and cessation interventions for young people. I feel this is an area that requires further research, and one that I believe will become more widespread as technology becomes increasingly ingrained in our daily lives.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at DECIPHer and learnt a lot from the experience. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming that I felt a part of the team from the very beginning. Once back in University I am sure to miss the creativity and freedom that work in research gave me! In addition, I will greatly miss the delicious cakes at the Cardiff DECIPHer coffee mornings!

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