Birmingham’s five-year Medicine programme allows students the opportunity to experience hands-on learning that teaches practical, communication and theoretical skills needed to become a doctor. From various illnesses to the diversity of our five million population, students will broaden their knowledge from researchers, clinicians and academics. Placements are available at the UK’s leading hospitals including Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Birmingham’s teaching style is varied, including traditional seminars and lectures as well as some problem-based learning too. The course structure is integrated with two pre-clinical years and three clinical years.
In the first two years, students will learn about the function and structure of the human body. This will include how each system is controlled, its responses and effects of diseases and treatments. In small groups, anatomy is taught and will involve experience of presection. Students will also study psychology and sociology of illness and health of patients as individuals and as a collective.
Key concepts of biomedical ethics (for example, genetic engineering) are also introduced too. Patient contact starts as early as week two to build skills and confidence when interacting with patients. This will involve working with GPs and patients and enable students to link biological and behavioural theoretical learning to clinical situations. Students visit various GP surgeries in rural, inner-city and suburban settings. This will also expose students to a range of illnesses from diverse backgrounds. Student selected components also open up opportunities for students to pursue specialised areas of interest.
From the third year, most teaching takes place in partner Teaching Hospital Trusts and involves an academy structure with junior doctors and senior clinicians. Students will receive training in each speciality whilst developing their clinical skills, including clinical history taking and learning how to deliver consultations—learning about common surgical and medical diseases and how to diagnose and manage them will also occur alongside theoretical work.
During the final two years, clinical attachments are undertaken in various specialities such as oncology, cardiology and neurology. These attachments prepare students for the problems they could face as a foundation doctor.
Intercalation opportunities are available after the second, third, or fourth year. Additionally, in the fourth year, there’s an opportunity for students to opt into elective studies for two months in a different country.
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- Stephanie Roberts
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What are the best things about your Medical School?
- Birmingham offers a more traditional course compared to some of the other University’s who have taken on a PBL structure. Personally I like Birmingham’s approach- 2 years of lectures followed by 3 years of placement. This means once the theory is out of the way you can have 3 years in hospital before you qualify and very very few lectures! You do however have patient contact from year 1 though with a GP placement every 2 weeks. You do also have the opportunity to intercalate between two of the years of the course- usually 2nd and 3rd, 3rd and 4th or 4th and 5th, which is where you do the final year of another degree and come out with 2 degrees at the end of it all.
- Like most other medical schools Birmingham has an obligatory elective placement. This is at the end of our fourth year and is by far the best part of the course. You can do it anywhere in the World and it is the best experience and most fun you will have whilst at University.
- Birmingham is a great city, being the second biggest in the country you’re never bored of something to do! It offers great shopping, nights out, eating, theatres, sporting events- you’re never bored. And with a train station a stone’s throw away from the medical school getting into town is no problem. And being the second biggest city also means there is a very diverse patient population, which perhaps you wouldn’t get elsewhere in the country which is great for your future practice as a doctor. Also- the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
What are the hardest things about your course?
- The first two years can be a bit of a slog. In fresher’s when all your friends on other courses are in Uni for a couple of hours a week and you’re at lectures 9-5 most days it can be a bit disheartening and takes some getting used to.
- Birmingham medics are known for not having the best anatomy knowledge. You have anatomy sessions in the first two years but these can be a struggle. We also do prosection not dissection.
- The sheer amount of knowledge you need to retain. This goes for any University though and is expected of medicine. It can be overwhelming especially around exam time but you will get there in the end.
What’s the social side of your Medical School like?
Birmingham has a brilliant Medsoc with roughly 2500 members. It offers around 50 different sports teams, charities and other societies for anyone studying within the college of Medical and Dental Sciences. It hosts an annual Medball at the ICC which is definitely not something to be missed. It also has many other great events throughout the year for example The Hop, The Riverboat Shuffle and The Harborne Run, as well as activities such as paint balling and go-karting for people that prefer non-alcoholic events. There is also a Medsoc weekend away every year.
What tips would you give to someone applying to your Medical School?
- Visit the University before you apply- make sure you like the city (you’re going to be there for at least 5 years), chat to someone about the course structure and see if this will suit you and talk to current students as well.
- Visit the University of Birmingham Medsoc website as that gives you lots of tips about interview help and also a guide to first year as well.
- If you get offered a place and come to Birmingham make the most of it- don’t let yourself be bogged down by the work- join lots of societies, experience the city, go to all the events and have lots of fun!