As a technical research assistant in an immunology lab at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Catherine Gerdt had many opportunities to learn about disease response at a cellular level. But she knew that if she wanted to work in other areas of health care, she would need to expand her perspective and deepen her knowledge. Gerdt explains how HMX courses helped her move into the next stage of her career.
What appealed to you about HMX?
At first it was the reviews of the students that attracted my attention. They were saying how useful and cool it is to see the physicians interviewing the patients and also the videos of the physician discussing different treatment options and how those treatments work. That got me excited because I’ve been working in a research lab and I want to work in a health care setting, so I thought that this would be a very ideal course for me to get to know a little bit more about the clinical side of it.
Were there particular parts of the courses that you found to be useful?
When I first started I was a little discouraged because of the pre-course quiz [checking] to see how much understanding the students have at the beginning. I did not know how to answer any of the questions, so it was discouraging. But then after I finished the first lecture, and along the way, I was able to answer the questions and apply the knowledge that I had learned in the video concepts. That made me feel really good. So I think they cater the questions to the study materials very well.
I did really enjoy the video part, especially the application part – I was so excited that I even showed it to my family in Malaysia. When we do our weekly Skype, I’d share my screen with them and say ‘hey, look, this is what I’m doing!”. It’s definitely way better than I expected – this is one of the best online courses that I’ve taken in my life.
Were there any topics that really interested or challenged you?
For physiology class, the part that was a little hard for me to understand was the lesson on how fluids move through membranes in the body. But I liked that we could ask questions [in the course discussion forum] and the staff was really helpful with answering. I appreciate that the course really challenged my understanding of new topics and being able to answer the questions and do well.
How will you apply what you learned in these courses?
The physiology course actually encouraged me to exercise. I learned that for athletes, their heartbeat is slower because the tissue has already allowed more capillaries and so the cell is able to use the oxygen more efficiently compared to those who don’t really exercise. That motivated me to exercise more.
For immunology, because I work in an immunology lab, the knowledge that I gained in that class definitely helped me to understand the seminars that I go to a lot more.
And I’m actually currently interviewing for different jobs, some in immunology, and I was able to apply some of the knowledge that I learned in the immunology course and impress the interviewer.
Would you recommend these courses to others?
Oh, yes. I actually just recommended them to my coworkers.