I made the best decision - Chris' journey studying MSc Medical Statistics at LSHTM

Chris from Kenya came to London and studied MSc Medical Statistics at LSHTM. He shares with us his journey here, what modules he took during the year, and a tip for future students.
Chris (right) with fellow student Isatou after finishing their course work & lectures in May 2023, photo by Chris Mwema

I couldn’t even imagine I would get to this point in time in my life. In just a few words, I will narrate my story, which I anticipate will give you hope to always believe in your dreams. I come from Nairobi, Kenya and came to the UK to study the MSc Medical Statistics at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I arrived in September 2022, and the first two months were quite challenging for me, trying to adapt to everything, and one thing I will always appreciate is the strong African community that the school has, and they supported me greatly in getting a permanent accommodation.

Chris (left) with fellow classmates during Welcome Week in September 2022, photo by Chris Mwema
Chris (left) with fellow classmates during Welcome Week in September 2022, photo by Chris Mwema

London was such a new environment for me, especially adjusting to the cold weather and trying to understand the transport system. I remember one time I was on the bus going in the opposite direction only to realise after an hour that I was going in the opposite direction. After learning how to use the tube, I eased into my routine and in term 1, I took the modules, foundations of medical statistics, basic epidemiology, clinical trials, statistical computing and robust methods. I got to interact with some of the most brilliant people I have ever met, and we started having group discussions, going to the library together and even exploring London. This term is usually quite packed for us, and within no time, term 1 was over, and I was submitting my final assignments for the term. 

Chris having dinner with some of the African community at the School after finishing exams.
Chris having dinner with some of the African community at the School after finishing exams

Term 2 began in January, and I took the modules generalised linear models (GLM), statistical methods in epidemiology (SME), survival analysis and bayesian statistics and analysis of hierarchical data. This was my favourite term because I got to learn very new concepts, and I also got to network with other students during the SME classes. I loved the GLM module because I understood how to fit generalised linear models in STATA, fully interpret these models with regard to the question of interest and present my results suitably.

Additionally, I have loved the teaching method at the school, where each lecture is followed by a practical session where you get to practically apply the concepts using real-life datasets, and the tutor giving the lecture is always present during the practical sessions to answer any questions and clarify anything. Moreover, each module is accompanied by several Q&A sessions where you get to ask any questions regarding the concepts being taught in the module. I always found this kind of teaching method to be very helpful.

Chris & his friends exploring London in January 2023
Chris & his friends exploring London in January 2023

After Term 2, there was an Easter holiday in April, and I took this time to relax and refresh before beginning Term 3 in May. I also explored London and visited a couple of my friends. In term 3, I took the modules Advanced Research Methods and Advanced Statistical Modelling, which were quite interesting. I learned about statistical models for causal inference and analysis for discrete longitudinal data. After submitting these assignments, it was time for exams in mid-June, and most of my time was spent in the library and in group discussions. The exams would culminate everything I had been taught the entire year, and the tutors helped by providing revision sessions and reviewing revision techniques.

After the exams were over, I earned myself a break and decided to go to the beach at Southend with my friends to relax and rejuvenate after the exams, before we started our summer projects. My summer project is based on mediation analysis, where I will estimate the direct and indirect effects of azithromycin on antibiotic use. The mediators I will be considering are eye and ear infections, skin infections and umbilical infections.

Chris & his friends at a birthday party
Chris & his friends at a birthday party

Reflecting on all three terms, I believe I made the best decision to do the MSc Medical Statistics at LSHTM. I have learned and grown a lot as a medical statistician, and I am quite confident that future students will benefit immensely from studying here and grabbing the many opportunities the school offers. I have experienced excellent support from the school, particularly from my personal tutor, Christian Bottomley, who continues to support and mentor me, and the programme director, Kathy Baisley, who helped me settle down smoothly. I am now very confident that whatever the future holds, I will be able to tackle it after the excellent foundation I have received from the school.

For future students who are considering studying at LSHTM, I would advise you to trust your instincts and apply to the school and you will grow career-wise and personally because of the rich support that the school provides. You will also get an opportunity to network and meet new people who will help you throughout your career.