My Leeds story - Ahmed

We are extremely proud of the achievements of all our graduating students at Leeds, but especially our Class of 2020, who completed their studies in such challenging circumstances.

Each month we shine a spotlight on a Leeds alum who graduated in 2020. In April, we hear the story of Lubiana Shabeer, a medicine graduate who graduated early to join the NHS front line during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She tells us about her time so far in the NHS, the benefits of the EXSEL scholarship scheme at Leeds, and her plans for the future.

You can read the stories of more inspiring graduates featured in our My Leeds Story Class of 2020 series, or alternatively, listen to the My Leeds Story podcast series here.

My Leeds story
Lubiana Shabeer

Start by telling us how you came to choose to study at the University of Leeds?

Choosing Leeds was not a difficult decision!

The medical course offers early clinical exposure and a thorough lecture-based curriculum, which for me, was the best way to learn. 

Leeds as a city has great links across the country and is very accessible. The city itself is affordable for young students with the campus situated in the city centre and everything you need is on your doorstep. The University itself offers a vast range of sporting and extra-curricular events to get involved in.  

Additionally, Leeds is incredibly close to the outdoors....The Dales, Lake District, Ilkley Moor...who wouldn't enjoy a weekend hike in some of the best spots in the country?

Did it live up to expectations?

Yes! As a born and bred southerner, venturing north allowed me to explore a new region of the country and live independently with less reliance on my mum and dad. I spent five years studying in Leeds and I would not have had it any other way.

The course itself was great, and the opportunities to study abroad, intercalate with another university and get involved in multiple societies really shaped my time at Leeds.

Over the last few years, I was involved with multiple course-related societies such as Leadership and Management, General Practice and Dermatology. Outside of my studies, I also was a regular attender of TRIB3 (a group workout) and was on committee for hosting several cultural events.

One of the most rewarding experiences that I had at Leeds was being part of the EXSEL scholar scheme, which offers second year medical student the opportunity to complete a 6-week research project over the summer, sharing findings by attending conferences and writing a paper.

I was able to develop valuable research skills, attend several conferences to present my findings and study at the John Hopkins University in the USA thanks to the scheme. The enthusiasm and dedication Professor Homer, Dr Lee and Dr Simon Howell have put into the scheme is highly admirable and I am forever grateful for their support over the years.

Your final year at Leeds wasn’t quite as you would have imagined it.  How was the experience of studying virtually? 

Fortunately, I had reached the end of my placements when the government announced the lockdown, so the pandemic did not affect my elective which took place at the start of the academic year. I travelled to Borneo, Malaysia, and spent time at one of the local Emergency Medicine departments.

Due to the demand for NHS staff, the final year examinations were cancelled for those who had already passed several examinations, placements and competences in the 12 months prior to graduation. This allowed us final year students to assist with the pandemic and begin working in the NHS earlier than our official August start date.

But unfortunately, my peers and I were unable to celebrate together before parting to enter the working world all around the globe.

What have you learnt about yourself after being in lockdown? 

The pandemic has been a time to focus on what we have and how we take everyday activities for granted.

It has definitely opened my eyes to how we can become so engrossed in our busy schedules and studies. After busy years studying, I was also able to appreciate having time out to unwind. I have occupied myself during this time with old hobbies such as cycling, running and baking, whilst also learning a few new pieces on the keyboard.

"As you start work in the NHS, you feel like a valuable team member and the appreciation of patients is immensely rewarding."

Lubiana Shabeer (Medicine 2020)

You worked as a junior doctor in infectious disease, geriatrics and general surgery in North West London during your first placement. How did you find it?

It was a great start to working life. At times it was incredibly busy and the hours were often long and tiring, but there were lots of learning opportunities.

As you start work in the NHS, you feel like a valuable team member and the appreciation of patients is immensely rewarding. My day team were absolutely fantastic and we had a great bond so I very much looked forward to going to work.

I thoroughly enjoy the fact that no day is ever the same in the NHS and there is a constant opportunity to learn something new. My next rotation began in December and cannot believe I am nearlf half way through the first training year!

What are your plans for the future?

For now, my main focus is adapting to working life. In addition to clinical duties, we still attend online teaching, have e-modules to complete, feedback evaluations forms, portfolio work and audits to complete for successful progression. This time next year, I will be completing a research block as part of the Academic Foundation Programme in Paediatrics and am looking to organise my project soon.

Additionally, in 12 months' time, the next cycle of training applications begins and I will need to consider what I intend to do next.

Lubiana's best of Leeds

Favourite place to eat in Leeds:

Sukhothai (Hands down best thai curry in Leeds...you will not be disappointed!)

Best lunch spot on/near campus:

Bakery 164 or a takeaway from fortune cookie.

Best place to study on campus:

Without a doubt, Laidlaw library (if you can grab a seat!)

Favourite lecture theatre:

The Dental Lecture Theatre 

Your favourite building on campus:

Worsley (no biases), the level 9 cafe

Favourite Yorkshire / Leeds phrase:

Ey up, love!

Favourite place you visited whilst here:

Lake District (Lake Windemere)