Staff Spotlight: Alexandra Stebbings

Graduate Medicine Student at the University of Southampton


What is your favorite travel memory?

I recently traveled to South Africa for three months to carry out a research project at The Africa Centre just outside the small town of Mtubatuba (north of Durban on the Eastern Coast).

Over the three months there I carried out secondary data analysis of a WHO study into people living over 60 with HIV/AIDS. It was an amazing experience to work in the community and gather research that would hopefully be useful to the Department of Health and help shape future public health directives.

Each day we worked in the office and as soon as 5pm hit we sped off down a long and twisty road near the game park to the beach. One day on the way back from the hospital we pulled over and watched a lion for an hour whilst another time we got far too close to an elephant for comfort.

It was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to return in a few years as a qualified doctor to work in the rural hospitals there.

How have you changed/grown since working for ORA?

I think I have definitely become more confident teacher as I have delivered lessons to a wide variety of students. Meeting new people is a huge part of working at ORA and the opportunity to talk to and learn from people from different countries and backgrounds is an amazing experience.

Teaching to a class where over 25 languages are spoken is daunting but over the summer I picked up new ways to explain ideas and convey learning outcomes that bridged the language gap.

The experience has definitely made me a better teacher all round.

What is the best story you've heard from a returning ORA student?

Each ORA student has so many wonderful stories to tell. I think the really wonderful thing is that many return each year to progress onto a further course or learn new things.

Students have such a wonderful opportunity at ORA to live in the halls at Oxford University, explore the city and make new friends. I think what they all appreciate is being treated like proper university students having new and exciting lessons taught within the historic buildings.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being successful?

I think being able to communicate is the biggest factor. It sounds cheesy and like one of those management buzz words, but if you can’t communicate your ideas well to your peers you will get nowhere.

My experience working both in an office and on the wards as a medical student has really emphasized the importance of good communication to me. The ability to work in a team is crucial.

To be successful you ultimately have to inspire those in your team to strive for success and this involves having fantastic communication skills.

You have to be able to listen and take on board what others are saying - even if you don’t agree - and reach a compromise that will allow the team to work successfully.