Jate Ratanachina, from Thailand, is an academic at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He is currently doing a PhD in Clinical Medicine Research at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, with a scholarship from the Thai Red Cross Society. Read his blog on why he decided to pursue his PhD in the UK, and how his work is affected by the current crisis.
History and culture brought me to the UK
When talking about the United Kingdom, many people might think of football league matches, English-style tea, Big Ben, a soldier marching beside Buckingham Palace, gloomy weather or even movies such as James Bond or Harry Potter. In fact, the UK has a unique and world-class excellence that dates back for centuries – the British education system and the advancement of medical innovation and research.
Let me start by telling you about my interests. I like studying history. Thailand’s development in many areas has been influenced by the United Kingdom. This includes the political system, language, modern art and culture as well as sports and the modern education system. In medicine, the UK has been a world leader since the industrial revolution. Edward Jenner studied and discovered the world’s first smallpox vaccine in the UK. Several years after that, Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, which is the world’s first antibiotic drug. In the area of epidemiology that I am studying, John Snow is considered as a founder of the modern epidemiology and has influenced the improvement of public health around the world. All of these have inspired me to study in the UK in the field of medicine research.
In terms of the field and programme that I study, many universities in the UK are leading institutions in the world rankings. There are world-class academics in all fields of medicine and the number one ranked university in Europe in my field, occupational and environmental epidemiology, is located in the UK.
I like the research degree system in the UK
Although there are no classes, the focus is on posting questions and thinking critically. Students learn and analyse data as assigned by their supervisors each week by themselves in a favourable environment complete with learning materials and research equipment before discussing in their team. Studying a PhD degree in the UK enables us to have time to review, absorb, dig deeply and know truly our field of study. This has good effects on studying in the long run, particularly in medicine, which nowadays encompasses vast and constantly changing knowledge.
Furthermore, in the evenings at universities, professional bodies and academic societies such as Royal Society or British Academy often organise seminars by world-class experts on various interesting topics outside our field of expertise. Students and general public can usually attend these events for free. More importantly, by attending these seminars, I have learnt British characteristics in academic circles, which involve deep thinking and openness.
Another important aspect of studying in the UK is the experience outside the classroom. The UK caters to all kinds of interests – music, sports, arts and culture, tourist attraction and social activities, with variety and internationalisation. I myself like visiting arts and history museums – they have good exhibitions and are usually free to visit, like the Victoria and Albert Museum. During a short-term break, I might ask my friends or research team to go trekking in a forest, visit a village, visit one of the National Trust’s parks around the country, or watch a football match.
Blog continues below...