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My elective experience

Tajri Salek's elective experience

Final year Medicine student Tajri Salek embarked on a diverse and enriching elective experience in 2023, split between Dublin and Glasgow, where she explored her interests in both radiology and forensic pathology.

In Dublin, she shadowed radiologists at St Vincent’s University Hospital, enhancing her skills in interpreting radiological imaging and gaining exposure to interventional radiology technologies.

Then in Glasgow, Tajri delved into the intricacies of forensic pathology, splitting her time between the University of Glasgow's Forensics Department and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital's mortuary.

Curious to learn more about Tajri's incredible journey and the valuable insights she gained during her elective? Read on for an in-depth interview where she shares her impactful experiences that shaped her career aspirations below.

Tajri Salek

Where did you go for your elective?

I went to Dublin for two weeks and Glasgow for a month. I have always wanted to explore these cities and thought the elective period would be ideal for this.

In Dublin I shadowed both clinical and diagnostic radiologists at St Vincent’s University Hospital.

In Glasgow I split my time between the Forensics Department at the University of Glasgow and the mortuary based in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. This allowed me to work on a project looking at the causes of maternal deaths in Glasgow as well as observing and assisting with some autopsies.

Winning the York Medical Society bursary and the British Division of the International Academy of Pathology enabled me to live and commute in Glasgow and Dublin, so I am thankful to these organisations for making such a rewarding and unique experience possible.

What did you learn from the experience?

I learnt more about the technologies used in interventional radiology as well as growing in confidence interpreting radiological imaging.

I had never seen an autopsy being conducted before my forensic pathology elective so the whole experience was novel to me. I learnt how collaborative the process of a post-mortem can be, as well as gaining a more in-depth knowledge of anatomy and pathology.

While at the University of Glasgow, I was fortunate to receive teaching from the consultants on topics such as patterns of injury; the legal structure of conducting post-mortems in Scotland and identifying histopathological signs under a microscope. I was also given a tour of the histology laboratories.

My supervisor also encouraged me to complete a project during my elective. As I am interested in maternal conditions, I chose to research the causes of maternal mortality in the West of Scotland. This project enabled me to compare the regional data in Glasgow to national maternal mortality statistics reported by MBBRACE-UK.

Among the 12 post-mortem reports I analysed, I concluded that venous thromboembolism was the most common cause of death. This was in contrast to MBBRACE-UK’s most recent report which found cardiac disease to be the second most prevalent cause after COVID-19.1

I was fortunate enough to be able to present my project to six of the department’s consultants and receive feedback.

In the mortuary I saw a range of post-mortem cases. I learned there are a wide variety of circumstances in which a post-mortem may be requested. Some of the reasons include suspected nonaccidental injuries; road traffic collisions and deaths caused by industrial diseases.

I discovered there is often collaboration with a range of different expertise. I met not only forensic pathologists but also a procurator fiscal, police, forensic photographers, anatomical pathology technologists, laboratory technicians, trainee pathology doctors and other medical students.

You can also read more about my Dublin elective experience in my blog post on the MDU website.

What did you enjoy about your elective?

I enjoyed learning more about medicine from the perspective of two completely different fields. Being able to live in these two vibrant cities and making new friends was also very rewarding.

Overall, the elective has been extremely rewarding. I enjoyed consolidating my anatomical knowledge from preclinical years. I was also exposed to the criminal, ethical, histological, and epidemiological aspects of forensic pathology which makes the field very dynamic. I would encourage anyone with an interest in pathology to apply for a forensic pathology elective.

How did your experience help shape your career aspirations?

My radiology elective has cemented my aspirations to pursue a career in this field. This is because I enjoyed the procedures that I observed and was very inspired by the doctors I met in the department.

(1) Maternal mortality 2019-2021 | MBRRACE-UK | NPEU Accessed: 2023-09-02