4th August 2023
About the author: Karin Kingston is a third year MBBS student at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in North West England. She is studying at the UCLan Westlakes Campus in Cumbria (near the Lake District) and is on a placement experience in a rural setting.

What Is A Rural Medical Placement?

Clinical placements play a fundamental role in medical school and are part of the General Medical Council (GMC) requirements for all medical school students.

At most UK universities, you start clinical years in your 3rd year. It is perhaps the first time you will feel like a “real doctor” as you spend most of your time in a clinical setting. 

While this can be daunting and overwhelming in the beginning, you are going to enjoy every bit of your time within the first few weeks. Placements across most locations are similar, but in a rural setting, there will be a smaller hospital with fewer staff and typically a narrower demographic. 

All placements follow the same framework that includes one or more of the following: 

  • Shadowing healthcare professionals
  • Being part of ward rounds and multidisciplinary team (MDT) meetings
  • Spending time in theatre
  • Practising skills (like taking history, cannulation etc).

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How Are Medical Placements Different In A Rural Setting?

  • Hospitals tend to be less busy with fewer patients – this creates opportunities for healthcare professionals to pay more individualised attention to you.
  • It is a great place for generalised training, but exposure to rarer cases may be limited. 
  • You will be able to get a better taste of outreach services available to members of a community.
  • It allows you to get an understanding of how socio-economic factors (like access to healthcare and availability of transportation) affect the health outcomes of patients.
  • You will be able to try new activities in your free time (like hiking or fishing) to establish a good work-life balance.
  • You will likely be living in a rural setting – and while these places tend to be more cost effective (e.g. cheaper rent), you may feel isolated from your friends and family. 

My Top Tips For Rural Medical Placements

  • Don’t be disheartened if you are beginning or currently doing placements in a rural setting.
  • Set goals for each day and remember you can always find someone to help you to achieve these.
  • Make sure you allocate enough time to practise clinical skills on patients.
  • Be punctual and maintain professional behaviour throughout – the buses/trains may be fewer and/or not on time but try your best to be present at your scheduled time.
  • Always remember that you shape your experience – so make the most out of it!

For further information about studying Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire, visit the website or email: [email protected]


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