Ruth W.

Research Fellow
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Ruth W.
Health Sciences
Applied health research
Taught Postgraduate
2015
United Kingdom

My employment

Research Fellow
University of York
United Kingdom
Science and research
Small business (0-49 employees)
2015

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A day in the life of a Research Fellow in the United Kingdom

In my current job, the work is very intellectually challenging and I need to read a lot to keep up with the ever-developing statistical methods which are relevant to my field.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

I work for the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. We conduct reviews of clinical trials data that go on to inform policy, for example, which drugs are best to use for patients on the NHS.

What do you do?

My job involves reviews and analysing data from clinical trials and other research studies. I also manage a database that registers protocols of systematic reviews.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

I started off in the field of biology. I studied for a BSc in Ecology at the University of Liverpool which lead to a short term public health post at the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Here I studied how rats pass on diseases to humans in urban slums. It was messy work but got me particularly interested in public health. I then came to York to study for an MSc in Applied health research as part of an NIHR fellowship. This leads me to the job I am in today, where I assess the use of medical and public health interventions.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

Yes! I thought I was going to be the next David Attenborough when I was at University.

Describe your most memorable day at work

In terms of memorable weeks, it has to be from the time I spent in Brazil working in urban slums to study rat populations. The working conditions were difficult, I got up early and walked up and down the slum valleys for 6-8 hours a day collecting samples. I would then return to the lab the same day to drop them off. One week a family from the favela helped us to carry out the work. They weren't asked to do so but spent the day with us sharing insight into their lives. It was a very different experience from any before, and I imagine to any I will ever have again, and one I feel lucky to have had.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

In my current job, the work is very intellectually challenging and I need to read a lot to keep up with the ever-developing statistical methods which are relevant to my field.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

I think that I work in a positive, trusting and respectful environment. We are allowed to work at home as we like, as long as there is some contact with the office. Everybody here has a slightly different skillset and background and this is respected and valued in the department.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

I used to volunteer at a children's nursery teaching kids how to grow fruit and veg. It was really fun and I met a variety of different people through this. Later I learned to take responsibility for organising the sessions and running some of the group activities.

What would you like to do next with your career?

I plan to undertake a PhD soon! I have submitted an application to the NIHR (a funder in health science) to explore the use of anti-sickness medications in children undergoing cancer treatment.

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Take opportunities where they arise. No career is established without a bit of luck, but most of that luck is the opportunities that become available to you. I would always apply for positions you think you might enjoy and the decision about whether to take the job can be made once you have been offered the position.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Career paths in health science/biology. Studying and revising. Being a woman in science. Any technical questions relating to applied health research and/or systematic reviewing.

Next steps...

If you like the look of Ruth’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Ruth a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Ruth to be your mentor.

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