It’s that time of year when results have been released and a new university year is about to start, so how about a real life insight into a medical science university course. But what actually is Medical Physiology and Therapeutics? (MPT for short) or ‘MedPhiz’ as we like to call it.

Unlike other life sciences, medical physiology just focuses on the human body. The aim is to learn all of the body’s systems; the normal and pathological and how to fix it. First year modules include immunology and microbiology, human anatomy, public health, respiratory and cardiovascular systems, homeostasis and medical statistics. In second year there are modules in reproduction, ethics, pharmacology, neuroscience, histopathology and respiratory disease followed by a research project in third year.

Use of preserved cadavers and models in the anatomy suite means you get to see the body systems as they are .

In our lab sessions, we carried out experiments growing bacteria using aseptic technique; glucose testing using clinistix; viewing and counting our own blood smears; antigen testing; protein detection using chromatography and testing our urine via urinalysis (optional). In clinical skills sessions we tested each other’s blood pressure before and after exercise (unlucky if you’re the guinea pig on the exercise bike), lung capacity (blowing into a spirometer whilst being tied up by trousers), reflexes (not for those who bruise easily), ECG (if you were brave enough to go topless) and nerve conduction (via electric shocks) as well as having first aid training.

Use of preserved cadavers and models in the anatomy suite means you get to see the body systems as they are – touching is optional. A ‘virtual microscope’ programme aids our learning of anatomy by getting to view slides in exceptionally high magnifications- talk about high definition. Timetabled tutorials are a great way for some group interaction and problem solving whilst study skills sessions make sure you’re on the right track with your studies.

Opportunities for graduates include working in pharmaceutical companies and clinical research labs.

It’s not all fun and games; each module requires a piece of coursework; some essays, lab reports, group research and oral presentations. Assessment topics range from malaria, diabetes, foetal movement, lung function tests and exercise on self-esteem; the good thing is you get to pick a topic of your choice and help is available from tutors. Saying that it’s not ‘all work no play’, with only a small course size of about 40 there’s no excuse to make course friends and organise group activities or socials.

The course is located in the education block of the Royal Derby Hospital along with foundation year students, nurses and post-graduate medics (a mini medical family if you like). The only down side to the course is that you can’t just roll out of bed and into a lecture; travelling on the hopper bus to and from uni can take its toll. But if you’re one to look on the bright side of life you get to spend more time with your ‘bus buddies’ and make more of these facilities, most importantly the café.

So where can you go from here? There are more and more opportunities for graduates including work in pharmaceutical companies and clinical research labs. And if 3 years of extended education isn’t enough, the degree puts students in great stead for medicine. So depending if you’re more of a lab coat or a people person you can go either way.

Samantha Wake

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