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IICMS Bursary Recipient – Neuro Faculty – Cara O’Donnell –  Aston University – Nerve Conduction Studies & Evoked Potentials

IICMS Bursary Recipient – Neuro Faculty – Cara O’Donnell – Aston University – Nerve Conduction Studies & Evoked Potentials

Aston University – Nerve Conduction Studies and Evoked Potentials


My name is Cara O’Donnell and I am a clinical neurophysiology scientist working in Beaumont Hospital. Last year when the country went in to lock down, there was a lot we couldn’t do.  We were working shifts in teams, we were unable to see family and friends, socials events and sports were cancelled and we were all left with an awful lot of time on our hands.  Over the summer on 2020 I decided that I wanted to make the most of all this new found time and began looking into further education.  I found a university in Birmingham with a whole range of courses tailored to scientists working in the field of neurophysiology. These ranged from stand alone modules, certificates, diplomas to MSc.  As excited as I was to take on a new challenge, I was unsure how much I was willing to commit so I decided to start small and tackle a stand alone module.


The two options I had were an advanced EEG or a nerve conduction studies and evoked potential module.  Previously to working in Beaumont hospital, I spent nearly 2 years working in Kings College Hospital in London.  I gained amazing experience here and was exposed to a wide range of modalities in neurophysiology and one that I was always particularly keen on was evoked potentials and ERG.  Since working in Beaumont I have continued pursuing this interest with ICU SSEP and SSEP/MEP during intra-operative monitoring.  Therefore I felt this module would be well suited to me. The nerve conduction studies portion of the module also included electromyography which was always an area I wanted to get a better handle of. With all this in mind, I applied and was delighted to be offered a spot on the course.


The course began in October and was very easily split into teaching blocks. We had online lectures over 2 days in October, January and March.  Between these lectures we were given access to the online library and had to complete recommended reading.  The course was build for professionals working in the field so was laid out in a way that I found very manageable. The lecturers were also all very friendly and approachable. Over the duration of the course we had 2 assignments. The first was to create a poster presentation critically evaluating an assigned published paper.  I initially felt daunted by the task especially presenting my finished work over zoom.  However in hindsight I may have gained the most from this assignment. I had to research and find other papers related to my topic, compare them and discover what errors I can now avoid in future and what went really well that I am able to learn from.  My second assignment was 4 essay questions, 2 related to nerve conduction studies and 2 related to evoked potentials. I found this assignment very enjoyable as I felt prepared by the lectures and recommended reading topics and was able to see on paper how much I had learned over the year.


I thoroughly enjoyed completing this module and feel everything I have learned will stand to me in my career. I have now applied to complete the MSc programme in clinical neurophysiology practice and am looking forward to getting back into it come October!

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