Lancaster’s medical school is relatively small, which means the Medicine programme has a robust student-focused environment. Students get plenty of guidance during the transition to university and clinical training.

In year one, teaching is based at the university. There are two 11-week problem-based learning modules, in which students are introduced to key biomedical and social science concepts. The normal structure and function of the human body is explored. A solid foundation in basic clinical skills will be built alongside the communication skills needed for patient contact in year two to five.

In year two, students are based on campus two days a week and spend two days per week on hospital placement. In addition to this, students will engage in numerous community-related activities throughout the year.

Year three is when students undergo five rotations, each one including clinical teaching, patient contact, problem-based learning and further teaching via tutorials and lectures.

In year four, students complete two 15-week blocks that build upon the experience of year three.

In the final year, five clinical attachments are taken on. Each of these involve seven weeks of intensive clinical experience. Students will use a portfolio to guide learning and are expected to embrace reflective practice to help the transition into Foundation training.

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Case Study

Natalia Kyrtata
Year of Study:
4th Year

What are the best things about your medical school?

  1. It is a small medical school – 129 students are admitted each year which means that, apart from getting to know each other really well, we have a lot more contact with our staff. Unlike larger medical schools, clinicians and tutors have more time for their students and teaching groups are smaller and, therefore, more conducive.
  2. Excellent student support –from my experience, Lancaster medical school takes student welfare very seriously. Personal, academic or financial issues are dealt with professionally and with great sensitivity. The medical school offers all medical students a free laptop which is returned at the end of the five years, and an annual travel bursary which covers the cost of travelling to clinical placements. Student feedback is also greatly valued and changes have been made to the course in response to our feedback.
  3. Early clinical contact – clinical contact starts in Year 2 and a large proportion of teaching takes place during our placements. I have found this particularly helpful when preparing for OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Exams) and it has massively increased my confidence, ability and resilience in dealing with patients and hospital staff. The hospital environment soon becomes second nature and is excellent preparation for the Foundation Year Programme.

What are the hardest things about your course?

  1. Different term times to non-medics – term times are longer than most courses. This can be a challenge if you are living with non-medics, as not all tenancies are flexible and it can be difficult when living on your own for a few weeks or during exam periods when your housemates will be free. This is usually why most medics live together, but as long as you have understanding flatmates, there should be no problems.
  2. Self-directed learning – Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is the key component of the course, especially during the first few years. This is very different to most approaches students are used to, since it involves a significant amount of self-directed learning. Past papers are not available, which many students tend to rely on during their A-levels, and although the content of information can be hard, judging the depth of knowledge that is needed is more challenging. Don’t be afraid to ask tutors and lecturers how much you need to know about a topic. Medicine is infinite, so nobody will expect you to know everything.

What’s the social side of your medical school like?

Lancaster is a very convenient and affordable city to live in, which offers more time and spare pennies for socialising. There are numerous excellent bars and pubs on and off campus and great places to eat, even on a tight student budget. There won’t be that constant buzz you find in larger cities, so if you are big on night life, make sure you choose a college which matches your social needs, such as Grizedale college, also known as the “Social College”. The University also organises trips to the countryside, such as the annual cruise around Windermere, or walking trips to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Because the medical school is so small, it can feel a bit isolating at times, so make sure you get involved in activities outside of medicine and make some good non-medic friends – you will be very grateful for them, particularly on those days when you just don’t want to talk about anything medical-related!

The Roses Tournament is definitely something to look forward to, whether you are planning to take part yourself or not. Held in Lancaster or York on alternating years, campus is filled with colour and people, creating a vibrant atmosphere throughout the days of the tournament and the preceding weeks.

Finally, there are over 200 societies in Lancaster University, so make sure you make the most of them while you can and don’t miss out on student life.

What tips would you give to someone applying to your medical school?

  1. Visit the University. Lancaster is a very unique city, so try to envisage yourself living there for five years. You might find it challenging if you come from a large city, but then again you might fall in love with it, like I did.
  2. The interview process is in the form of Multi-Mini Interviews (MMI). Practice with a question book and ask a friend to be your interviewer. Tell them to keep a stone face throughout and get them to ask you difficult questions which will make you think on the spot. Learn to keep your answers structured and succinct as MMI stations are very short.
  3. Lancaster value interpersonal communication skills so interact with a wide range of people through your volunteering and work experience. Keeping a diary will help you prepare for your interview.

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