Alumni profiles - Alison Wood

BMedSc Medical Science, 2011

Postgraduate Nursing Student, University of Sheffield


The Medical Science degree programme content is varied in addition to being in-depth. The quality of teaching is excellent with a combination of lectures and problem-based learning tutorials..."

How has your career developed since graduating from the University of Birmingham?

It is without a doubt that my background in medical science and knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathophysiology has been invaluable in the understanding of the conditions experienced by the patients that I care for. The relevance of medical science within the nursing curriculum and the application of transferable skills which I obtained from my degree have allowed me to excel in both my theoretical assessments and also in clinical placements.

What is the best thing about the job you are doing now?

For me the best part of Nursing is working and communicating with patients and their families to provide individualised care that meets their specific needs. I applied to Medical Science wanting to understand how research into pathophysiology of diseases and advances in medical science could be used to enhance quality of life for patients. Medical Science, in combination with my work experience throughout school and my degree encouraged me to continue studying in order to pursue a career in nursing, which ultimately has allowed me not only to understand the use of medical science in healthcare, but also contribute to the use of medical science to enhance a patient’s quality of life. 

Why did you originally apply to do your chosen course at Birmingham?

The Medical Science course, with its wide ranging curriculum encompassing the entire functioning of the human body, pathology and current and potential future treatment options definitely appealed to my interest in human biology and the changing world of analytical science underlying medicine. I was also very interested in the opportunity to specialise and carry out an original research project in the final year. As soon as I read about the Medical Science degree at Birmingham I was enthralled and motivated to secure a place on the course. Having looked at other Biomedical or Human Biology related courses, across a range of Universities, there was nothing that I felt matched the range of learning opportunities available on the Medical Science degree programme at the University of Birmingham. When choosing the degree programme that I wanted to apply for I was committed to pursuing a science-based course, which I would not only enjoy but would also provide opportunities for my future career in terms of skills and knowledge. The status of the University was also of importance to me both from a teaching quality and an employability perspective. The league table and employability statistics for the University of Birmingham as a whole and for the Medical Science programme supported my decision to apply for the course.

What did you think were the best points of the Medical Science degree at the University?

The Medical Science degree programme content is varied in addition to being in-depth. The quality of teaching is excellent with a combination of lectures and problem-based learning tutorials which complement each other well to provide different approaches to achieving learning outcomes. The laboratory and prosection sessions provide a hands-on approach to applying existing knowledge and further develop understanding. I particularly enjoyed completing my dissertation having been able to choose an area of research that was of real interest to me. In my experience the University of Birmingham provided the whole “student experience” with a fantastic degree programme and a brilliant range of social events, sports clubs and societies to achieve a work-life balance.

What advice would you give to current students studying on the course?

Keep up the hard work and determination because it is definitely worth it! The course is demanding with a dense timetable in addition to assignments and examinations, however support is always available. Most of all achievement at the end of the course should motivate you to complete your work to the best of your ability throughout. At the same time enjoy what you are learning, it is a fascinating subject with so much pioneering research to learn about and get involved in during the final year. To achieve a degree in Medical Science from the University of Birmingham is something to be proud of and without doubt will be influential throughout your future years to come.

How did you grow as a person by studying at University?  Did it change your life in any way?

Studying at the University of Birmingham developed my confidence, public speaking skills, time management and organisation. Other transferable skills which I have continued to use have included problem based learning, analytical skills and ensuring accuracy and reliability in my work. In addition to these my degree continued to enhance my communication and interpersonal skills. I also made some fantastic friends who I have kept in touch with, despite us all going on a variety of career paths spread across the UK.