Changing the conversation about health
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Student Advisory Group and mentors

AJ Yates – mentor

AJ has been interested in all aspects of healthcare since joining St John Ambulance as a child – he was a volunteer at his local unit for over forty years. AJ’s interest has broadened in recent years: he has a degree in herbal medicine from Middlesex University (which reflects a belief in the beneficial effects of patient-centred complementary medicine), a masters in medical anthropology from Brunel University (which reflects an interest in social and cultural aspects of health and illness), and has completed a PhD at The University of Westminster which used patient narratives to investigate women’s experiences of distress and their experience of using western herbal practice for distress. Since completing his PhD, AJ has become a mentor for the student strategy group, and is now also the Senior Admin Officer for the College of Medicine.


Lauren Quinn: Student Strategy Group

Lauren Quinn is currently a fourth year medical student at the University of Birmingham. She aims to pursue an academic career in Diabetes and Endocrinology. She writes: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the numerous research projects and placements I have been involved with thus far, which have ranged from observational studies, to basic science to clinical science to working with ‘Big Data’. These experiences have taught me how rewarding yet challenging academic medicine can be and I look forward to taking on the challenge in the future.”

She adds: “CoM’s principles are inherent to how I endeavour to practice medicine in the future; engage with a multidisciplinary team of professionals, adopt a holistic approach to healthcare and focus on wellbeing of patients which is comprised of mental, physical and social constructs.

The College of Medicine student conferences have become a highlight of my year as their ability to inspire and engage students from all healthcare professions and from all across the UK is unrivalled – we look forward to bringing you another student conference which challenges, inspires and tailors the College’s practice.”


Arani Vivekanantham – mentor

I am a medical student, in my 5th Year, at Keele University Medical School. This year I am intercalating, undertaking a research masters (MPhil) in Primary Care Sciences. As part of this I am conducting research evaluating the prevalence of depression in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica. In my spare time, I enjoy playing the violin; I am a member of the University Hospital Orchestra.

I have been involved with the College of Medicine since 2011, when I attended the first summer school on ‘obesity’ in Southampton. This gave me the opportunity to meet and work with students from other health care disciplines. I learnt a lot from, and thoroughly enjoyed, this experience. As a result, I was keen to participate in subsequent summer schools run by the College of Medicine, and so attended the ‘healthy ageing’ summer school in 2012 in Birmingham and also the ‘self care and resilience’ summer school in 2014 in London. At both of these summer schools, I had the opportunity to showcase research that I had conducted, in the form of poster presentations.

As part of my role as a College of Medicine student leader I hope to be able to get involved with organising and running future summer schools and events, to help encourage and facilitate multidisciplinary working in students from all healthcare disciplines. I hope this will give students an insight into multidisciplinary team working and better prepare them for this.


Olivia Phillips – mentor

As a student of Graduate Medicine at the University of Leicester, I am in the very early stages of developing an understanding of the complexities and needs of the national health service. Growing up, I was heavily influenced by my grandfather, a general practitioner who had witnessed and spoke of the development of the national health service with great affection. Those sentiments were passed to me through the stories he told of those patients that had become so much more accessible to him in a system which provided care free at the point of need.

After studying History at the University of Cambridge, I dedicated myself to the task of studying medicine. I spent my time gaining experience across different parts of healthcare. This included volunteering at a hospice, observing orthopedic surgeons, oncologists, staying with GPs, talking to practice managers, working as a healthcare assistant, and finally, working as a rehab assistant for Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists. I was inspired by the work I saw, the dedication of those individuals I met and the profound achievements of teams demonstrating how to work together. I was also shocked by the hours people worked, the fragmentation of care making everyones� jobs harder, and, at times, the lack of recognition experienced by some of the most generous people I have met. It is these experiences which I will carry with me as I continue to learn from an ever wider pool of people wishing to produce change for the better.


Ally Jaffee – Student Nutrition Lead

I am a 2nd year medical student at the University of Bristol.

Growing up, my mother instilled within me the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition was central to this. This has sparked my interest in preventative and lifestyle medicine. Last year as part of our ‘Whole Person Care’ module and this year as part of my ‘Optimum Health in later life’ module, I have researched the role nutrition and food play in the prevention and management of certain chronic conditions, as well as with wellbeing.

Read more about Ally on our page about College leaders in specialist areas.


Tim Owen Jones – mentor

Tim is a student nurse, adult branch, at King’s College London. Previously, he worked as project manager with artists and arts organisations across UK, Spain and USA. He has an MA in Arts Policy & Management from Birkbeck, University of London and an MEng in Materials Science & Engineering from The University of Sheffield.

Tim is interested in tackling the multi-dimensional challenges that healthcare faces now and in the future, whilst keeping patients at the centre. He feels a multi disciplinary approach should be integral to learning and training and is excited about the shifting conversation surrounding health, most importantly as an asset not a hindrance. For this reason, he’s very excited to be part of the College of Medicine’s first Student Strategy Group.

Whilst studying, Tim works as a care support worker at King’s College Hospital and as a healthcare assistant at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. He trains at University Hospital Lewisham.


Sonya Elnaschie:

Student Strategy Group

I originally completed a degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Southampton and have worked both in the UK and abroad, within the NHS and private health care.  Through my work as a Physiotherapist, I experienced first hand how important patient choice and patient centred care is.  Working in different specialties provided opportunities to collaborate with many different professions and services. 

Whilst living in Australia, I had the opportunity to experience and develop a deep appreciation for complementary therapies, leading me to further my studies. Having recently completed a second degree in herbal medicine from the University of Westminster, I hope to use my experience of two aspects of health care to contribute CoM’s vision of integrative health care.  I have felt very privileged to have the opportunity to work with CoM and look forward to continuing to do so.


Imogen Kunzer: Student Strategy Group

I am a Food and Human Nutrition Student in my second year at Newcastle University.
Throughout my childhood, I was heavily influenced by the work of my grandfather in the numerous roles and appointments he had; having been Children’s Commissioner of England and also having worked as executive director of clinical research and development at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, to name just a few of his appointments. His career has taken him down many different routes and paths over the years and his passion and enthusiasm has developed and inspired my interest in medicine and the importance of good health.
Nutrition is vital for the everyday functioning and processes carried out by the body and without good food and nutrition, there can be detrimental consequences. My course and modules go into more detail with this and enable me to develop further understanding about food and nutrition. Moreover, being part of Newcastle University’s Boat Club, training 14-16 times a week and competing in regular rowing competitions has further highlighted the crucial role of good nutrition in performance sports and exercise. Without sufficient food intake and adequate nutrition, this can impact how the body copes and responds to exercise.