This week, I’m going to share with you my experience so far with the Year 2 PEP!
What do we do for Year 2 PEP?
PEP stands for Personal Excellence Pathway and in each year of medical school at Manchester, we have to take on a PEP project. PEP projects are like research projects and each year we have a chance to select a topic of our choice to do further research about it. However, it is slightly different every year in terms of what we need to do for PEP. For example, in year 1, we did a group poster on a topic we chose and a short individual literature review related to that topic.
For year 2, we need to produce a 5000 word individual literature review based on a title of our choice. Around 600+ titles were given to us by the medical school at the start of the PEP project and from those titles, we had to pick and rank 12 titles. The titles ranged all the way from “Alzheimer’s Disease: Can it be Cured?” to “Burnout in health professionals: What are the effective interventions?” There were so many titles to choose from and I remember spending a good 3-4 days just reading through all of them to try to sort out which ones would be the best.
I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to pick super scientific titles or titles that focus more on the psychosocial aspects of healthcare. On one hand, I wanted to pick scientific titles because I knew that I would learn a lot about the topic by researching it but I was also worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand very advanced scientific concepts. In the end, I just decided to choose a mixture of both scientific and psychosocial titles and see which one I would get allocated to.
Around January, we were allocated to one of the titles we chose from. I was allocated to the title of my first choice “The good, the bad, and the ugly of radiation”. Although I knew that this title would be very scientific, I was quite happy when I got it because I was really interested in researching about radiation, particularly radiotherapy and its effects on cancer. With the allocation of the title, we were also allocated to a supervisor who would help us with the literature review. After the title allocation, I met with my supervisor to discuss about the scope of the title.
1st Meeting with My PEP Supervisor
During the meeting with my supervisor, we talked about how we could narrow down the title as it was quite broad. I suggested that I want to focus on ionizing radiation which is used in radiotherapy to treat cancer and the effects of it. My supervisor agreed that it was a good idea and suggested that I also choose a type of cancer to focus on. From this, we changed my title to “The good, the bad, and the ugly of radiotherapy on cervical cancer patients”. Having this 1st meeting with my supervisor was really helpful as she also helped me with any questions or concerns I had about the topic. She also shared with me a few resources she thought would be helpful for me to make a start.
Writing the outline
This week, I’ve finished gathering articles and resources around radiotherapy and cervical cancer and have written an outline on how I’m planning to structure my report. For the good of radiotherapy, I’ve decided to write about its curative effects on cervical cancer and the benefits of using radiotherapy instead of other methods to treat cervical cancer. For the bad and the ugly, I’ll be focusing on both the short- and long-term side effects of radiotherapy on cervical cancer patients and how their quality of life is affected by it.
It took me several days to write this outline as I had to scan through the resources I found to gather my points. I would recommend using PubMed, Mendeley, and Google Scholar to gather articles around your topic.
I’m now waiting for feedback for my outline from my supervisor and her approval to start writing my report. I know I’m going to have to put in a lot of work to properly read through all the resources I found and to organize them when writing my report so I hope it’s going to go well! To be honest, it’s my first time writing a 5000 words literature review so this year’s PEP is quite daunting for me but I’m going to try my best!
Hope that gives you a glimpse of what my year 2 PEP journey’s been like so far! I’ll keep you updated with how it goes when I start writing my report. Hope you enjoyed today’s blog. Don’t forget to check out our Instagram and our other blogs!