Year 12 A Level Biology students attended a talk from Dr Underwood

Dr Underwood talks to our Biology A Level studentsYear 12 A Level Biology students had a talk from Dr Underwood, a Psychiatrist and Clinical Research Fellow at Cardiff University.

Dr Underwood came to Seaford to talk to the students about what being a Psychiatrist involves, some of the studies he is involved in as a research fellow and to give them advice and guidance on applying for medicine or other similar fields at University.

In talking about his work as a Psychiatrist, Dr Underwood described some of the gruelling but rewarding shifts it involves. Working on call for 24 hours straight, he sees anyone in a mental health crisis, be that in A&E, on a ward or even in a police station or prison. The work is varied and interesting and, when asked by one of the students if it can be scary at times, he answered “Not at all. It’s interesting – you get to see people that you’d never meet otherwise”.

A patient's pedigreeThe students were given the opportunity to draw out a patient’s pedigree from medical history information that they were given. This was incredibly useful and put into practice some of what is covered in their Biology A Level syllabus. Dr Underwood commented on their studies “I am impressed that the syllabus is so up-to-date, It covers a lot of what I am actually doing now” he said.

Alongside his role as a Psychiatrist, his research is currently focussing on autism, looking for copy number variations (CNVs) in genes. He carries out this research in Cardiff where they have the Europe leading centre in genetics.
Dr Underwood told the students how he had always thought he would work in paediatrics. As a junior doctor, he did a number of placements in paediatrics and neonatal medicine. An opportunity arose however in mental health that changed his career path. It was interesting for the students, who are thinking about their own futures and possibly University applications, to hear how your path can change and develop over time.

Using a patient's history to work out their pedigreeThe students were fortunate enough to be able to get some advice on their applications. Dr Underwood sits in the board for the School of Medicine applications at Cardiff University. He explained how it isn’t just about your grades. He said that what you do alongside your studies is really important. How involved in your field you are. How much experience you have got. He told them how he had applied for medicine twice. He was only successful on the second time when he had built up his experience, having shadowed doctors and worked in different health settings.

Learning from Dr UnderwoodOur students utilised this fabulous opportunity by asking him questions such as “When you first started medical training, how much of a step up was it from A Levels?” and “I have an interview for Veterinary School in January. Is it important what I wear?” When asked about the questions they might get asked in interviews, Dr Underwood’s advice was to “make sure you have examples to back up all your answers”.

Thank you so much to Dr Underwood for his time. An invaluable opportunity for our A Level students.

It was really useful. He has a medical degree and it’s interesting to see the areas that you can use it in. It was really helpful. Isaac Mitchinson, Year 12

It was very informative. It could help me to decide what to do in the future, where to apply. Anna White, Year 12

I would like to go into genetics or bio-chemistry so it was interesting to hear about the wide range of approaches, to hear about how he works with genetics. Ben Clark, Year 12.

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