18 October 2022
Mathuza, BSc (Hons) Medical Science student, writes about her Live Brief experience from the challenges to the real highs…
When told in Week 1 that we would be doing a Live Brief I honestly had no idea what to expect. All I knew that it probably had something to do with epidemiology, given that it was for the 'Fundamentals of Epidemiology' module. The Live Brief assessment was pretty different to the assessments we were used to. It started with Tim Winters from Norfolk County Council, giving us an overview of how cancer services are run in Norfolk and Waveney and then started to discuss how Covid may have impacted these services. This was interesting to think about as over the past couple of years a lot of us have been very caught up in the more obvious repercussions of Covid, but hadn’t given much thought to how it would affect other services. Tim then set us the challenge of using all the information available to us to choose, research, then present a topic that discusses Covid-19 and cancer in relation to the region of Norfolk and Waveney.
This was a lot different to assignments we've done before, as we had a lot more freedom to choose what we talked about. Most assignments have more rigid discussion points to follow, for this one we could pretty much discuss anything, as long as it was to do with cancer, Covid and Norfolk and Waveney. This freedom ended up being the biggest challenge for me, especially as there was so much information available to us, so I struggled to narrow it down. I spent the first two weeks doing general research, but what helped the most was talking to my course mates. Approaching the research period together and using my course mates as a soundboard allowed us to narrow down our ideas and figure out how we were going to approach the Live Brief.
During the research process I found out that one of the most common cancers is lung cancer, which eventually lead me to decide my question. I decided to discuss how the pandemic would have affected people's smoking habits and how that might relate to lung cancer. I felt that it was quite a relevant topic as both lung cancer and Covid affect the respiratory system, so I was curious as to whether this might discourage people from smoking.
The biggest thing I learnt was that preparation is one of the most important things when it came to presenting the Live Brief. Having collated all the appropriate information, you should form a structure to follow. This allows you to decide what information is relevant and should be included, as well as figure out things like timing and flow. Having your presentation close to done at least a week before your deadline also helps as it means you can practice in front of your peers. This gives you the chance to get feedback on the content, how your presentation looks and your presentation skills. Lastly, making sure that you fully understand any graphs and charts you choose to include, as these are often popular areas to be questioned on. I gained a lot of confidence from my presentation by feeling prepared and also adapting to virtual presenting, as we were not on campus at that time.
The Live Brief was definitely one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done during my degree. Having the freedom to investigate my areas of interest while also being able to discuss things that were quite topical was great. I was able to develop project management skills and realise the importance of effective communication as well as my own motivation for independent research. The whole process of working through the Live Brief also gave me an idea of what a career in epidemiology might entail, which really helped me start to think about what I might do after I graduate.
By Mathuza Senthivel, BSc (Hons) Medical Science & Employability Student Activator
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