Sarah Baker - 2009 graduate from Health Services Research (now Applied Health Research) and went on to study for a PhD in Health Sciences

MSc Applied Health Research

Sarah Baker - profile

I previously worked as a dietician in an acute hospital, for just under 7 years, and then I decided to come and do a Masters at the University of York in Health Services Research.

I decided to come and do my Masters because of the elements of my job that I really enjoyed were working with students and doing research and audits, and there weren’t very many opportunities in the acute hospitals to do that.

Flexible provision

I chose Health Services Research because it fitted my background and also there was a lot of scope for me to choose my own research project. The majority of credits are actually awarded to the research project itself so it was very flexible and suited what I wanted to do.

Ideally I’d love to go on to do lecturing and continue with my research, so that’s why I want to go ahead and do my PhD. I’ve also had such a positive experience doing my Masters here at York, that’s another reason why I wanted to stay on and do my PhD.

Supportive staff

Having been out of university life for a while, and working in the NHS, I found it quite a steep learning curve coming back to university, but the staff have been really supportive - always there when you need them, and even though a lot of them have really high profiles themselves. They always have a lot of time for students, and you can get hold of staff which I think is really important. The teaching has been really, really good here at York and also, in terms of supervision of my dissertation, really positive experiences and that was another factor in my choosing to come back to York. For a PhD, with it being even more intense, I think that’s really important.

The teaching has been really really good here and also, in terms of supervision of my dissertation, really positive experiences and that was another factor in my choosing to come back to York.

Best aspects of the course

I think the course has been really nice for me because there’s been such a multitude of professions here – people that have worked in the NHS before like myself; other allied health professionals; nursing staff; doctors; physios; radiographers; lecturers; people who have just come from undergraduate study, so that’s been really nice, to meet a variety of people.

The way the course was structured, with the two full days, its been nice to have other students around and to learn from each others’ experience. I’ve really enjoyed that. I’ve enjoyed the lectures, they’ve been really interesting and they’ve all been very relevant to the course and hopefully will help me with further studies as well.

Some advice

Don't underestimate the amount of work you’re going to need to put in! The lecturers obviously have high standards and expect you to put the work in, but having said that, they’re very supportive. The course is relevant to health professionals certainly, and I think it's invaluable experience if you want to continue in research and get a good grounding in that kind of area. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself really, even despite the hard work!

Funded study

The Medical Research Council funded my Masters and that was key for me to be able to come and study, having come from a job, and having family to support and everything else that comes along with that. I wouldn’t have been able to do the course without some form of funding.

Similarly for my PhD, I’m going to be funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and again I wouldn’t have been able to do that had it not been for that funding. The staff were excellent in showing me opportunities that were there for funding and pointing out areas that I should apply for. That’s been essential for me really and I would certainly recommend for those considering doing further study that there are various avenues that you can look at to see about funding and the staff here will certainly help you find things to apply for. There seem to be quite a lot of opportunities that come up here at the University as well, so its not just outside agencies, it’s here at the University as well.