Starting blocks

14 Sep 2016

Peter Davey, DTMH September 2016

Hello my name is Pete and I am one of the students on the Diploma of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (DTM&H) at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). After finishing Foundation Medical Training in Sunderland in the North East of England for 2 years I worked in Glasgow, Australia and most recently Malawi and Zambia. In the future I would like to work in Public Health, with a view to work with international NGOs. On a personal note I am interested in the outdoors, cycling and procrastinating life decisions. 

“The Diploma” as it is affectionately called by people who don’t realise that this could refer to any diploma in any subject, is well regarded and well respected throughout the world. It is often invaluable (sometimes obligatory) for getting jobs in the international health community. As for Liverpool, its reputation for friendly locals, great bars and a lively music scene are somewhat legendary. And apparently some indie band called the Beatles came from Liverpool and have had some minor hits, the occasional game of football is played here and there is someone called Steven who is a big deal.

I had been to Liverpool before, for a 6 week placement during medical school in the Infectious Diseases ward at the Royal, and even had one lecture at the hallowed LSTM. That seems like another lifetime ago now, although I am back to being a poor student without a job, but perhaps with some more medical anecdotes.

The month preceding the diploma I had been in back in Australia catching up with the British Medical Exodus and generally enjoying brunch, sunshine, brunch, overpriced cocktails and brunch. As the time for the Diploma drew closer I got more and more excited, finally getting started on a course I had wanted to do since medical school.

And finally day one rolled around. I saddled up my faithful bike and headed through the city. My route took me through the leafy magnificence that is Princes park, down broad avenues, past the stately opulence of historic houses until finally I arrived at the Palace of Learning that is the LSTM. The sun was shining all morning, its rays giving an encouraging nod that everything was going to be great.

That first morning was a heady mix of administrative gymnastics, meeting people for the first time and the dreaded introductory session. This entailed us writing down things about ourselves that we were then mercilessly interrogated on (slight hyperbole) in front of our peers. It turned out to be a good way to get to know each other and certainly acted to break the ice. A selection of things I learnt about my class mates were as follows;

  • Every other person plays guitar, is adept at some sort of sport or has some sort of interesting hobby
  • Everyone is fairly modest about the above accomplishments
  • If you don’t know someone’s name, it is safe to assume that it is Tim (we have 4 on the course)
  • There is a wide range of experience both at home and abroad
  • Most people want to work for NGOs at some point in their careers

After this, the course fairly rocketed along. It has been comprehensive, to put it mildly. A cacophony of tetanus, public health, fungal infections and tropical haematology soon filled our brains. Well half filled. A personal highlight was going into the Dagnall Lab. It was great, indulging my inner geek, making up slides and looking at various wonders of the microscopic world- cells, protozoa, cysts. It was all pretty new to me but I really enjoyed it.

Of course no post would be complete without a mention of the social side of things. From the off it has been like being at first year of university again, often thanks to our diligent social secretary/representative/Empress. There has been pub trips, table tennis and some particularly impressive and enthusiastic dancing at the Tiki bar. A far too brief visit to the slavery museum was both sobering and enlightening and definitely worth a look. Our intrepid band even embarked on a ferry trip across the Mersey.

It has been a fantastic and exhausting first week but I am really enjoying it. Of course it would be nothing without the people, so I will finish with a big thank you to all the staff, lecturers and of course my classmates.

Who would have thought such a diverse group of people could make you feel so at home.

Bring on week 2.