A week in the life of a MSc in Translational Physiology and Pharmacology student

What does a Translational Physiology and Pharmacology student’s life look like? I will tell you about my typical week during the first course called Integrated Physiology and Pharmacology. This course spans over the whole first semester and it is focused on team-based learning. As such, most weeks we have a specific structure that I also briefly described in my first blog post. However, to get better insights into the day-to-day activities, I have decided to record a whole week in detail. For this week we were learning about cancer and cancer treatments. So let’s go ahead and get started!

Monday

My week started off as usual: I woke up at 6:15 as I like to have enough time for my morning routine. At 9:00 we met with this week’s teachers to start with a general introduction to what will happen over the next few days. As I mentioned before, this week’s topic was cancer and cancer treatments.

Individual studies at the library.
Preparation for the journal club at the library. Photo credit: Karolina Juhani.

The introduction covered what we should prepare for our midweek’s readiness assurance tests (RAT) and what will be our practical assignment that allows us to apply the knowledge. For this week, it is a journal club presentation that is focused on novel cancer targets.

We had the rest of the day to watch videos about carcinogenesis and read articles on the hallmarks of cancer and the different stages of the disease. I also read and took notes on the paper that my group had to present in the journal club to be ready for our meeting the next day.

My evening was then fairly uneventful as I was just meal prepping for the rest of the week and doing some reading to relax.

Tuesday

Around 8:30 on Tuesday I headed off to the Solna library to continue my preparations for the week. I focused on reading up on the topics that I didn’t have time for yesterday as well as finishing my notes on the journal club article. I found one of the cute wooden houses in the library that are really good for zoning out your surroundings and concentrating on whatever you need to get done.

After lunch I got together with my team to discuss what we thought about the journal club paper and how we were going to divide our tasks. We’ve found that it’s best to do this in person as that really gives us a chance to thoroughly look through the figures as well as raise any questions that we had whilst reading the paper. We finished at around 16:00 after which I headed home for the day to start working on my slides together with a small group of classmates at the Solna residence’s common area. The rest of the evening was quiet, and I relaxed with watching an episode of The Crown on Netflix.

Team-based learning at KI
Team-based learning meeting at the library. Photo credit: Karolina Juhani.

Wednesday

Now it’s time for the individual and team RATs on everything that we’ve covered in the preparation phase. RATs consist of single-best answer questions for which we have a limited amount of time for answering. Firstly, we complete the individual test (iRAT) followed by doing the same test together with our team (tRAT).

Individual and team readiness assurance test summary.
Individual and team readiness assurance tests summary. Photo credits: Karolina Juhani.

In the tRAT we have a chance to discuss the different aspects of the questions and explain our reasoning for each answer. Both RATs together take approximately 1.5 hours, so we finish just before lunch time. In the afternoon, the whole class together with the lecturers discussed the questions to address any points of confusion or varying answers. This week several teams had specific questions that they were interested in discussing further as well as talk about our general thoughts on the week so far.

Before heading home, I decided to go to the gym before the “rush hour”, which is usually between 16:00-18:00 as that’s when most people finish their work. This means that before I got to relax for the day, I worked slightly longer into the evening finishing the slides for my part.

Thursday

As we had a journal club on Friday morning, the whole Thursday we focused on preparing the slides, doing practice runs together with the team and discussing the paper that our team had to oppose. To make sure that we don’t sit for too long in our meetings, we have a designated timekeeper each week who reminds us to stand up and stretch every once in a while. These are our “movement snacks” that are a great way to be active and also have a great laugh together! Once we were happy with the presentation, I again did a quick gym session and went home. Other than doing my laundry, I just made dinner and had a call with a couple of friends from home.

Movement snack between group work.
Movement snack in-between group work. Photo credit: Karolina Juhani.

Friday

As the journal club started at 8:15 (for us this was much earlier compared to the usual 9:00), which meant that almost everyone made it there on time. The general format of the journal club is quite good for introducing specific examples of great, and not so great, research articles that challenge our critical thinking and understanding of research results. For all the six groups, we had a good discussion on what to look out for when reading papers on cancer treatments.

Other than the journal club, this Friday was a little special as we had a career fair at Aula Medica. It is called CHaSE (Careers in Health and Science Exposition) and it was a great chance to meet various company representatives and hear more about their work and graduate programmes. Our programme coordinators made sure that we had a couple of hours to walk around and meet people, before we continued with the scheduled classes.

On top of CHaSE, we had group discussions later in the afternoon that were one part of the assessment for this section of the course. These were very short, but insightful discussions about topics we had covered over the last 8 weeks. Once we had handed in our notes, we were free to enjoy the weekend. The only thing left to finish on this week’s topic was a short individual assignment that reflected on what we’ve learned over the week. In addition, I had two friends from home visiting over the weekend, so I took them out for a nice dinner in Södermalm.

Everyone listening to group 5's journal club presentation. Photo credit: Karolina Juhani.
Everyone listening to group five’s journal club presentation. Photo credit: Karolina Juhani.

The weekend

For me the weekend brought great food, nice walks around the city and fun shopping with friends in the various second-hand stores around Stockholm. If you are interested in finding some amazing pieces for half the price, be sure to check out another post on the best second-hand shops in Stockholm. In addition, it also turned into the first snow day! And with all this fluffy and fresh snow we couldn’t resist a good snowball fight as well as building our first snowman! I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to end this busy week!

Now you know what a fairly typical week in my life during the first semester of MSc in Translational Physiology and Pharmacology looks like. If you are interested in the Translational Physiology and Pharmacology programme, make sure to check out the programme description and how to apply.

Karolina - Translational Physiology and Pharmacology

Karolina - Translational Physiology and Pharmacology

I am Karolina and I am a digital ambassador and a blogger for the Master’s Programme in Translational Physiology and Pharmacology here at KI. I was born and raised in Estonia, but for the past five years I have lived in the UK where I studied biomedical sciences with a focus on pharmacology. Outside of school I like baking with friends as well as doing water sports. When the weather starts to get warmer, I look forward to kayaking through Stockholm's world-famous archipelago.

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