Image: Student Shanika Anthony Psychology BScWhy did you choose this course?

I was fascinated by Psychology initially after my MBBS as most patients ended up been wrapped up with all the psychological problems followed by the medical problems which I have addressed with pleasure.

I realised that my pathway was not really so much towards Medicine but more towards Psychology. After I came to the UK, I completed my BSc (Hons) Psychology in 2008. Since then I began looking for a postgraduate course I could study through online learning - and then I found the University of Derby!

What attracted you to online learning?

Being a mother with three children and a wife of a busy husband, there was no alternative but to pursue my career through online learning. I searched for online studying as for me, it’s the best way for me to handle my time, household, kids, family and studies.

Why did you choose the University of Derby Online Learning?

Initially, I chose to study online because of the flexible access to study. The academics on my MSc course were amazing throughout my whole course, in every possible way. The help, support, care and attention, including replying to emails, etc has been unbelievably marvellous. I had some personal difficulties while I was studying the course, including having my third child, medical problems and ill health but the help, support and concerns of the team was amazing.

What were your goals and aspirations when starting your course? Have they changed during study?

The goal was to pursue my career in Clinical Health Psychology. Being a registered medical doctor in Sri Lanka, I wanted to integrate psychology and interventional therapies hand in hand with Medicine. As a result of this course, I was offered a 'Health Psychologist' post straight away from a leading Hospital, Asiri Group of hospitals in Colombo, Sri Lanka where I worked as a Clinical Health Psychologist in Cardiology for a year. I was able to reduce the hospital stay of the CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) patients' by two days.

As well as reducing their stay in hospital, the patients reached recovery to normal life earlier, with less complications. Easy and quick recovery from the effects of the surgery was observed with correct information, awareness, and psychological wellbeing.

How did you balance your study around professional/personal commitments?

As a medical student in Sri Lanka, I am experienced in compromising my sleep for studying! In Sri Lanka, out of 500,000, only around 1,000 go on to qualify as Doctors, and in 1990 I was one of them.

My versatile personality helped me to balance everything with the support of my understanding husband. I chose to study in the evenings, after 10pm once I'd finished my work, looked after three children and completed all the housework. My husband was also doing an MSc at the same time.

How would you describe your online learning experience at Derby? What did you find particularly beneficial?

Because of the MSc Health Psychology I have been able to access my dream. It's helped to make who I am now.

I found the face-to-face Skype interviews, presentations the best, as I didn't feel that I was doing an online course.

What was your most memorable moment during your time at Derby?

When I heard that I had passed the MSc! I was able to complete the course despite tremendous personal hardships.

How has your qualification helped your career? Has the knowledge you have acquired, complimented previous work experience in any way?

The knowledge I acquired completing this MSc complimented my medical work experience and I was fascinated about the thoughts of integrated medicine and health psychology.

I am looking forward to completing the training and becoming a Health Psychologist in the UK. I plan to work towards awareness, psychological therapies and wellbeing of cardiac patients, incorporating my medical knowledge to give holistic patient care up to a professional, ethical and legal limit.

Can you describe your experience with just one word?

Outstanding.

What would you say to anyone considering an online course at Derby?

I highly recommend this course. You will be very well looked after as an online student in every possible way by the University of Derby Online Learning (UDOL) Health Psychology team.

I have already recommended the course back in 2014 when I was working in Sri Lanka. I am happy to promote the University of Derby Online Learning as it is always marvellous!