What does KURF stand for?
KURF stands for King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
In late April 2015 I decided to apply for the KURF. Just as I was starting my first exams in May, I found out that I had been accepted for an eight – week fellowship in the Nursing and Midwifery Department at King’s College London to conduct a systematic review on how glycaemic control* is affected during cancer treatment in patients with pre-existing Type 2 Diabetes mellitus. The fellowship required that I become familiar with running a targeted search on a topic forming a protocol for the paper, assessing the literature for relevant papers according to inclusion and exclusion criteria extracting information from selected papers by forming an extraction form assessing bias. At the same time, it involved working with other members of the Cancer Research team in the Nursing and Midwifery Department and primarily with my supervisor, Dr Jo Armes, who provided me with invaluable guidance and support during the fellowship.
*Glycaemic control refers to the regulation of blood glucose levels within a certain range considered as normal (For more information go to NICE guidelines). This can be assessed in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients, by obtaining data of Glycated Haemoglobin (HbA1c) and is a useful measure for its control within a time frame of 1 to 3 months.
How did I apply and why?
I decided to apply for the Fellowship as it offered a great opportunity to become familiar with and engage in academic research in a leading institution, while being mentored by experts in the fields of cancer and diabetes during my undergraduate studies. I have a strong personal interest in the relationship between cancer treatment and diabetes, enhanced after some lectures on diabetes and glycaemic control. As both cancer and diabetes are responsible for an increasing number of deaths today, I considered the correlation between cancer treatment and glycaemic control to be very important for a future dietitian. By participating in this study, I hoped to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this relationship. I was able to learn and apply different research and data analysis methods and to further develop my critical appraisal skills. Finally, I considered this fellowship to be a unique opportunity to contribute to the development of a comprehensive summary of evidence, which would form the basis for a publication that will hopefully have a positive impact on the treatment of patients.
My personal experience
My experience of the fellowship has been nothing but positive. Initially, the amount of work that had to be completed in eight weeks seemed daunting; however, as the weeks progressed I felt more confident with the work I was doing and was finally able to complete it. I also had the opportunity to be part of the greater Cancer Research Team and discuss other studies that I was not involved in, gaining a better understanding on the current research taking place, and met with researchers from other teams who shared their experiences with me. In addition to the above, and apart from enriching my knowledge on this topic, I was encouraged to attend talks and events on a number of research topics, an opportunity that further induced my unique academic experience. After attending the talks I would discuss them with the rest of the team and exchange ideas and opinions on the topic. My experience was made so much more inspiring and educating thanks to my supervisor, who was always available to answer my questions and helped me discover and learn more things as the project was developing.
The benefits of the fellowship
This fellowship has been an exciting academic research opportunity for me, through which I gained experience in research and acquired skills that will be very useful for my academic, professional and personal development. During this fellowship I realised that I really enjoy research, but I also believe that such an experience would benefit even people who may not be considering research as a future career. The skills I gained are transcendent and can be applicable in any discipline; these include organising my time for the completion of the project and being able to discuss the topic I am working on and clearly define the scope and aims of my research. Recently, I had my first lecture in Research Methods for Health Sciences a module which is part of my BSc Nutrition and Dietetics, Year 2 and it was then that I realised how valuable this experience has been and will be in the next few years. I felt confident to use the knowledge I had attained during my summer fellowship to problem solve and answer questions.
What does the future hold?
As part of this fellowship I am still working closely with my supervisor, Dr Jo Armes to finalise this project and I am hoping I will be soon able to discuss the systematic review in more detail on ResearchGirlToday. As part of this project, I will have the opportunity to submit an abstract for oral/poster presentation at the Annual King’s Health Partners Nursing Conference in 2016 and this will be a great opportunity to demonstrate the work that has been completed. In the future I am also looking forward to getting involved in other research projects.
Going forward I will use ResearchGirlToday as a platform to relay research information and I would like to consider this website as an ongoing project of the work I started this summer!