Dr Hajra Siraj completed her Nuffield Research Placement in 2004 in the Rheumatology Department of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. She is now a GP.
What was your project about?
My project involved looking at the efficacy of novel biological drugs in the treatment of severe and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. Since then, these medications are now used commonly in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
What was the highlight/best bit of your placement?
The highlight for me was getting involved with something that had never been done before. Although I was only 17years old at the time, my work was respected by senior colleagues. I even had the opportunity to present my findings at the prestigious annual British Society of Rheumatology Conference the following year. I also got to meet a lot of friendly, motivated and enthusiastic people during my placement; I really learnt the importance of teamwork.
What was your least favourite part of the placement?
My least favourite part was the mathematical aspect of the project – statistics was never my strong point. However, it was great to be outside my comfort zone and still achieve my goal with the help and support of others in the team. It is important to remember that all good things are worth striving for, even if it may seem difficult at the time.
What path did you take after finishing your NRP and how has that led you to where you are today?
I was accepted into one of my first choice universities soon after completing the Nuffield research placement – I think it really helped me to stand out from other candidates. I studied Medicine and Surgery for 5 years, with one year of Pharmacology additionally. After my degree, I worked in different hospitals in and around London, and finally decided to take up a career in general practice. The placement taught me the importance of working hard to achieve my goals, at times sacrificing other activities to complete a task, being brave and admitting when I need guidance, and also the importance of teamwork.
If you could give one piece of advice to Nuffield students about to start a placement what would it be?
The Nuffield placement is a fantastic opportunity, and has the potential to change your life for the better. Make sure you put your best efforts into the project, and in return you will gain an immense amount.
Any other comments?
I really appreciate the opportunity that was offered to me, even now - 11 years later. I enjoyed my placement, and have very fond memories of my experience.