MSc Alumni testimonials
Since the MSc course was established in 1998, we have had more than 600 students graduate from the programme.
As a multidispcinary course, we've had students from a wide range of professions, including doctors in palliative medicine, general practitioners, social workers, radiographers, psychologists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, music therapists and chaplains.
We have had students from all over the world too, including: UK, Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia.
Read below about the experience of some of our students. Read what they have to say about their experience, what they enjoyed most about the course and what they have achieved since leaving.
Professor Fliss Murtagh, Professor of Palliative Care at Hull York Medical School
I am a physician who originally trained as a general practitioner, and then switched later to undertake training in palliative medicine. I chose to undertake the Masters in Palliative Care at the Cicely Saunders Institute back in 2001, and planned to become a consultant in palliative care soon afterwards.
But having always been a clinician, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed research, learning about research methods and how to conduct high quality projects, to improve care for a wide range of people with advanced illness.
Since undertaking the MSc, and subsequently my PhD, I have gone on to – 16 years later – to become a Professor of Palliative Care at Hull York Medical School.
The MSc was a great first step, and it led me in an unexpected direction; it helped to transform what I could achieve, and the direction of my career.
Dr Eve Namisango, Research Manager at the African Palliative Care Association
It was a great privilege to pursue the MSc in Palliative Care at the Cicely Saunders Institute King’s College London. This international course gave me the opportunity to learn from world experts in palliative care. The modular approach enabled me to continue in my work in Uganda, and put best practice into action . This was the perfect blend!
The well-designed course structure and content which promotes communication, impact and career development equipped me with research knowledge and skills, and the ability to engage with key stakeholder to deliver and disseminate impactful research in resource limited settings. I am now well positioned to compete favorably for research funding and career opportunities so that I can continue to deliver novel and cutting-edge research and best practice.
In 2019, I won the competitive HIV Research Trust Training award to develop a knowledge translation piece for the Children’s Palliative Care Outcome Scale. This year I won the National Institutes of Health short term fellowship to support the validation of the NIH HEALS in Uganda. Since the completion of my MSc, I have also had the opportunity to train and mentor ten upcoming researchers in Africa. Currently, I head the research and programmes in the department at the African Palliative Care Association and hold an honorary post as a Health Scientist at the College of Medicine, Makerere University.
Kate Heaps, Chief Executive, Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice
Professionally I’m a nurse with 30 years’ experience in the health service most of which has involved end of life or palliative care. I worked in HIV in the early days, then in the community as a District Nurse, before working as Community Clinical Nurse Specialist, a commissioner, Director of Care and now Chief Executive of a Hospice in SE London.
I completed the MSc about 16 years ago and I can tell you, it had a big impact on my career. It gave me the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence to do the best I could for patients as well as helping me to build my networks, which have been vital in developing my career and getting the support I need. I first became interested in palliative care when working as a volunteer in a hospice before I started my nurse training; then when I was working as an RN in hospital, I had the privilege to work alongside the first hospital palliative care team. I admired the person centred, holistic care they gave as well as liking the autonomy the nurses had, which was unusual back then.
When I became a Community Clinical Nurse Specialist, I met Jonathan Koffman who was doing research with our patients, he and one of our Medical Consultants encouraged me to apply for the Masters in Palliative Care at King’s and although I wasn’t sure I could do it, I can tell you it’s the best academic decision I’ve ever made! I had no previous research experience which I found very daunting, but I was so well supported by the leadership team on the programme. When I went into commissioning, the epidemiology taught by Professor Higginson was invaluable in helping me conduct a needs assessment for the area, and I continue to use that knowledge as well as my ability to read and understand service evaluation research now.
As a Chief Executive, I have to have a broad enough understanding of many areas so that I can ask the right questions, support and challenge my team and the board with credibility. The course has definitely helped with this and the fact I now teach on the course helps me keep motivated to polish up my knowledge, reading, and keep up to date!
Through this terrible Coronavirus pandemic, there has definitely been a refocus and increased interest in palliative care and so if you are thinking about joining the course there is probably no better time.
Rev Dr Andrew Goodhead, Chaplain & Spiritual Care Lead at St Christopher's Hospice
I was fortunate to join the MSc in Palliative Care in 2012. As a jobbing Hospice Chaplain there was a certain amount of personal uncertainty around how I would thrive on a course which seemed to me to be focused on clinical topics. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The MSc was genuinely eye opening. I came to understand in depth the challenges and opportunities to every profession engaging in caring for people at the end of life and those who care for them. Some areas were more challenging than others – symptom control was a whole new area of learning – but at the end of the module I knew I had a knowledge not only of how physical symptoms are controlled, but how symptom management is more than medicine and involves the entire multidisciplinary team.
The development and research process of my dissertation sat alongside the MSc modules and I was able to reflect on taught learning as I worked at the research project. This enabled the dissertation to be broader than it ever could be as a ‘standalone’ piece of work.
So, what has happened since? Well, I am currently on a secondment into our Patient and Family Services department working with teams to develop their services to reach more people – patients, carers and those men and women who are bereaved. I am also fortunate to be one of the coordinators for the Psychosocial, Ethical and Spiritual modules on the MSc.
Learning is a life-long experience and the MSc was part of that experience. I can recommend joining this course. It is genuinely multi-professional and every participant is a learner on a journey.
Dr Sabrina Bajwah, Clinical Senior Lecturer KCL & Hon Palliative Care Consultant Kings College Hospital & Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust.
When I started in the MSc in 2003, I was a GP in South London. I chose the MSc mainly to facilitate my career progression into palliative care. I never imagined that it would change my career path as much as it did.
I was research naïve when I started. The MSc instilled in me valuable research skills and in addition gave the tools to practice evidence-based practice- these are skills that I will continue to use to improve the clinical care that I deliver for the rest of my NHS career. I especially enjoyed the symptom control and ethics modules taught by world leaders, which resonated with my daily clinical work. Importantly, I was able to fit the MSc around my NHS and family commitments.
After completing my palliative care clinical training and becoming a palliative care Consultant, I then went on to complete a PhD within the Cicely Saunders Institute and I am now a Clinical Senior Lecturer within the department. This world leading MSc ignited a passion in me for research and gave me the building blocks on which to build my clinical academic career.