What were you doing before you applied to the MSc in Anthropology of Health and Illness?
Prior to pursuing my MSc in medical anthropology, I had completed a BSc in bioanthropology in Winnipeg, Canada. Shortly before coming to Edinburgh, I taught in a small school for indigenous children in rural Guatemala for two months and travelled other Central American countries for an additional four months.
Why did you apply to the programme?
There were several fundamental areas that I wanted to explore before deciding whether or not to apply to medical school. I was very interested in the connection between mind and body and wanted to see how this dichotomy is approached in different cultures and healing systems around the world. Similarly, I was interested in learning about the similarities, differences, and possibilities for collaboration between biomedicine and “traditional” medicine. After my experience in Guatemala, I was also determined to learn more about health inequities and the intersection between politics and health. These subjects all could be explored through the lens of medical anthropology.
What are your best memories from your time studying here?
Definitely interacting with the diverse staff and student body. Having the opportunity to meet, study, and party with so many interesting people from all around the world in such a rich cultural and educational setting like Edinburgh was truly a unique, character-building experience.
I have many fond memories of the small group meetings held for our MSc students, of special guest lectures and the ensuing sessions at the pub.
What are you doing now? Did the degree help you to get where you are?
I am currently working as the research coordinator in the department of family medicine at the University of Manitoba and am applying to medical school. Although the MSc was not a requirement for entry into medical school, my education in medical anthropology will undoubtedly strengthen my application and make me a better doctor. The program allowed me to expand my understandings of medicine in different cultures and to situate those understanding within a social, political and economic context. My time in Edinburgh improved my critical and writing abilities, and above all else, it strengthened my conviction to redress global injustice in health throughout my life as a physician.
What's it like being a student in Edinburgh?
Being a graduate student in Edinburgh provided a great degree of freedom. After having selected the school and program, I was also largely able to choose my classes and essay topics. For each class, we were provided with an extensive reading list, of which only select readings were required. Considering the limited time spent in lecture, I was able to study the subject areas of most interest to me and participate in other extracurricular activities.
Edinburgh also happens to be a great “student town.” From the university, virtually anything I needed was within 15-minute walking distance. This included a wide array of national museums and galleries, libraries, parks, gyms, shops, pubs and clubs. It’s quite a beautiful city, filled with interesting people and attractions.