Project: New Department, new programme approach

The Allergy programme has been designed for students with a wide range of background skills in Allergy, who require a detailed understanding of the scientific basis of allergic disease, evidence-based approaches to diagnosis and treatment, critical evaluation of the literature and core research in the field.

The programme is specifically designed to be multidisciplinary and therefore suitable for a range of healthcare professionals working with children and adults with allergic diseases, including doctors with different backgrounds (paediatricians and paediatric trainees, Allergy trainees, GPs, chest physicians, ENT, dermatologists), as well as specialist nurses, dieticians or nutritionists. It is also suitable for basic scientists, as it will enable them to develop a deep understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying allergic diseases, from clinical presentations to diagnostic tests and innovative management strategies that will help inform future basic research in Allergy.

Following the restructuring of the department of Medicine within the Faculty of Medicine, the Allergy Programme has recently transitioned to the National Heart and Lung Institute (NHLI). NHLI has an outstanding international reputation in research and teaching in its field, including Allergy. Joining the NHLI education family is providing the programme with privileged infrastructure and support that will greatly benefit students going forward.

Dr Marta Vazquez-Ortiz, Programme Lead:

An image of Dr Marta Vazquez-Ortiz, author of the next two paragraphsI have been the Allergy Programme lead since 2015. It is an absolute pleasure to work with our faculty and module leads, who are amongst the world’s leading researchers in Allergy, as well as very experienced clinicians. We are a very dynamic team continuously working on improving and innovating to deliver a programme of the highest quality.. Every year we incorporate new elements to ensure it is fully up to date as Allergy is such a rapidly evolving field. We focus on active and student-centred learning. For this we use engaging teaching strategies to ensure students’ active participation and interaction, both with our faculty as well as their student peers. Students have plenty of opportunity for group work, peer support and feedback. As they have diverse backgrounds and share their strong interest in allergy, they find it a very rich and positive atmosphere. We promote a challenging yet open, enjoyable and friendly learning environment where students can ‘learn by doing’ and bring their own cases and challenges for discussion.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we had to move to multi-mode delivery, with a strong remote delivery component in 2020/21. At first, the team felt we would very much miss the close relationship and face-to-face interaction with our students To adapt our teaching to the new remote format, we have produced high quality asynchronous materials such as pre-recorded mini-lectures. At the same time, we have put a strong focus on delivering meaningful and attractive interactive live teaching sessions to replicate the learning experience on campus. We are very happy and proud to see that our students have embraced the new environment. They have engaged extremely well with our faculty and their peers in a range of formats and activities to get the most out of their time with us. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback and we will continue to work hard to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic. We look forward to sharing our lovely ‘cheese and wine’ events with our students on campus in the near future, and in the meantime we will continue to enjoy our eCoffee meetings.

Dr James Trayer, Paediatrics trainee, Ireland:

An image of Dr James Trayer, author of the next six paragraphsUndertaking the MSc Allergy  programme at Imperial  has been a very enjoyable and beneficial experience which has proved very useful in my daily clinical work as a general paediatric trainee in Ireland.

The teaching is delivered by lecturers who are actively involved in cutting-edge allergy research and are passionate about their field as well as being very approachable. The majority of the teaching was delivered face-to-face which gave me a chance to meet other health care providers working in allergy services from all over the world. The teaching weeks involved lots of interactive and group work which fostered a collegial social environment.

As well as traditional lectures, there is also a hands-on clinical component which introduced us to allergy clinics and oral food challenges. We learned how to take a focused allergy history and how to perform skin prick testing. As a clinician, I really enjoyed this practical component and have found it to be particularly useful in my daily practice.

As well as teaching in allergy, there is a strong focus on clinical research in the course. Teaching sessions on performing a literature search and how to use reference management software have been essential both for completion of the MSc research project, and also for anyone involved in clinical research as part of their work. This was an area that I struggled with previously, so I have found this to be incredibly beneficial and have been putting these skills to use in research projects undertaken as part of my training. The final year of the MSc involves completing a research project and writing a thesis. While this is supervised locally, I have found the lecturers at Imperial to be eager to support me and to offer their help with any issues that arise.

Since the restrictions related to the COVID 19 pandemic have been in place the course has transitioned to a virtual format. This has combined a blend of pre-recorded lectures and interactive sessions with the lecturers. Given the logistical and technical challenges this posed, the move has been remarkably smooth with a very successful and enjoyable teaching week in September.

I would encourage anyone with an interest in allergy to consider the MSc programme at Imperial College London. It has proved invaluable to me as a paediatric trainee with an interest in working in a paediatric allergy service.

Get involved:

The programme is offered on a part-time basis as a postgraduate certificate, diploma or a full MSc, and allows students to develop advanced knowledge and practical skills to optimally diagnose and manage allergic diseases at all ages.

For more information on the programme including entry requirements, visit the MSc Allergy programme webpage or contact the programme administrator, Jen Haley, by email at allergypgs@imperial.ac.uk

To hear from more of our MSc Allergy students, visit Meet our students.

 

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