MSc in Extreme Medicine Focus: Meet Current Student Nikki McLeary

1 May 2020

We catch up with current 2nd year student Nikki McLeary as she shares her insights about the world’s first and only International Diploma / MSc in Extreme Medicine course that encompasses Expedition Medicine, Disaster & Humanitarian Medicine and Extreme Pre-Hospital care.

What’s your background?
Extreme sports science and medical publishing, 20 years ago I was working with athletes like Vendee Globe sailors and Formula 1 drivers before ‘extremes’ became sexy! I then spent 15 years overseas operating my own adventure company across desert, winter-mountain, and ocean based locations before returning to the UK 2 years ago to start my MSc in Extreme Medicine at Exeter University. 

What inspired you to sign up for the MSc in Extreme Medicine programme?
It combines adventure, academics, science and medicine, which encapsulate my skill set into something tangible that I can use for businesses purposes. Plus, as a developing field of study new opportunities are continually present. I also liked the fact it is linked to Exeter University which is well-respected.  

What were the main aspects that appealed to you?
It’s uniqueness. I’m self-employed and so always looking for engaging experiences that open doors and this felt like a positive pathway. Plus, the networking opportunities are amazing… WEM literally has an address book of who’s who!

Has it met your expectations so far? 
The faculty are superb. WEM have been really careful about who they have teaching, for example I recently completed Polar Medicine and Professor Chris Imray, leading expert on cold injury, was one of the staff. You definitely get your monies worth in terms of the level of education and the experts delivering. 

What’s been the highlight so far?
Actually, it’s the small things that add value, regardless of your level of experience and knowledge you gain from the programme as it is so multifaceted. But I doubt I would have booked to trek up to Everest base-camp independently just due to time and other plans, on this Master’s programme it can be chosen as a module which is pretty cool by anyone’s standards!

Who else is on the programme?
A mixed bag of newly qualified paramedics, GPs, humanitarian nurses, midwives, and senior anaesthetists! Interestingly, the clinical aspects of the course are tailored towards operations in austere environments with minimal kit so the teaching is suited to any healthcare level and can be adapted dependent on experience. The diversity amongst the students enhances the experience.

What modules have you chosen and why?
I’ve chosen Polar Medicine in Norway and Mountain Medicine in Nepal. I don’t particularly like the cold despite working in it so thought it would do me good to be uncomfortable, but in reality, Norway was awesome. The people were good fun, plus there was a sauna and bar we all embraced outside of building snow holes, sledging with the huskies, and pulk pulling to the middle of nowhere. I’m really looking forward to Nepal once lockdown is over. The university and WEM have been brilliant about juggling everything during COVID-19, they’ve gone above and beyond.

How will this help your career/future plans?
I’m already utilising my involvement in the programme; I’ve secured contracts with high profile universities for academic business collaboration in addition to the position of Content Editor for one of the British Medical Journal titles. I really believe this MSc offers credibility in a way bog-standard programmes cannot.

Nikki added:

Admittedly it’s not a cheap academic option but if you want to make that step towards offering care to others outside of a hospital environment preparation is key, and there is a wealth of experience to be gained within the multiple practical modules each academic year. This is a programme that consolidates knowledge, practical skills, and confidence to achieve objective.


Ready for an MSc experience that could change your life?

With the increased awareness of global burdens such as humanitarian crises and sudden onset disasters, more than ever there is a need to be delivering healthcare in highly complex and demanding situations.

The world’s first and only International Diploma / MSc in Extreme Medicine is the most flexible, modular and specialised Extreme Medicine programme in the world. Operated exclusively in partnership with the University of Exeter Medical School it provides the perfect bridge to bring your passion for medicine and adventure together.

You will learn the practical skills, knowledge and understanding needed to perform at the highest possible level in the field of extreme medicine. You can also choose to undertake a specialism based on your interests including Cold and Altitude Environments, Hot Environments and Humanitarian Relief.

Be inspired and find out more!

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