Leeds’ five-year Medicine degree has a curriculum that places a strong emphasis on both communication and practical skills, whilst training through the medical sciences.
The five-year degree starts with the introduction of the fundamentals for clinical practice, which includes core professional themes and the principle biomedical science that underpins clinical science. The study of biomedical sciences is integrated with anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and clinical assessment. Students will gain societal and psychological insight into human behaviour and development as well as the role they play in illness and treatment of medical issues.
Year two is all about building the fundamentals by enhancing students’ knowledge of clinical conditions and developing an understanding of clinical lab science as well as ethics and law within healthcare. Through patient visits, exposure to Patient Voice Group and teaching sessions, students will build on their insight into human experience and behaviour too. Students are trained to acquire the skills needed to research effectively and investigate epidemiology data. Students also take part in a two-week project that allows exploration of an area outside of mainstream Medicine.
In year three students will have increased clinical exposure through five five-week clinical placements to learn about a range of conditions. This is done alongside students consolidating core knowledge whilst evidence-based Medicine. In year four, students develop a better understanding of social, genetic and environmental issues that determine disease as well as treatment and the responses. Further clinical experience is gained, with speciality placements.
In year five, the transition from medical student to doctor begins, with three eight-week placements happening. These longer placements enable students to build strong placements with clinical teams. All placements are in fundamental clinical areas so that students’ individual learning needs are met.
There are assessments throughout the programme to help solidify knowledge and skills. These assessments are broken down into two general approaches: informal and formal. The first two years are taught mostly through lectures, tutorial and dissection classes. Alongside placements, students will be gradually introduced to self-directed learning.
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What are the best things about your Medical School?
- Sense of community– From the outset, the school and it’s students exudes a feeling of united effort towards medicine. There are no undercurrents of “dog-eat-dog” attitudes amongst students, with the tightly-knit student body spending most of the first couple years in larger groups, building a sense of commonality. Within weeks of starting the course revision groups had formed and notes were being shared.
- Dissection – A practice not used in every medical school, this gives students that learn best by doing rather than watching or listening the opportunity to get hands on, improving both surgical skills and anatomical knowledge very effectively. The anatomy tutors are very friendly and each session is relevant, to the point and clear to understand.
- Examination style – Multiple Choice, no worded or essay questions. It’s great. The school also has mock clinical sessions – OSCEs – which are highly applicable to future practice and teach us skills that could not be learnt by memorising facts.
What are the hardest things about your course?
- Volume of learning – Over the course, but particularly in year 2, students are expected to learn A LOT of information, with enough lectures conducted throughout year 2 so that in certain topics, there were three lectures per question in the final exam.
- Parking – The university of Leeds is totally bereft of parking spaces that can be used by regular students through the week. This isn’t a problem if you live on campus or nearby, but most students live in the Hyde Park / Headingley areas, meaning a 20-50 minute walk is required in the morning. Buses are available, but the sheer volume of students using them means you’ll be waiting a while before a non-full one gets to your stop.
- Friday mornings – Most medical school events happen on a Thursday, including Medsoc initiation, Cocktail night, Christmas party and many more, meaning the 3-4 hours of lectures the following morning for years 1/2 are not a fun activity.
What’s the social side of your Medical School like?
The Leeds Medical Student body is kept fairly busy throughout the year by Medsoc, the school’s social society, with countless events – including club/dress-up outings like the legendary Cocktail night (Not as classy as it sounds), fancier events like the Spring Ball and many more.
The school also has a lot of sports teams that accept players ranging from novice to professional standard – most notable being the school hockey club, LUUMDHC, whose social outings (welcome to all students who are keen to have a go) dominate the Friday night event slot for most of the year.
What tips would you give to someone applying to your Medical School?
- Get your head around the BMAT– The university used to ask applicants to take the UCAT to aid selection, but now use the BMAT test. The questions in each test are completely different (BMAT has far more critical thinking and scientific knowledge than the UCAT, plus an essay at the end), so time must be taken to practice for this.
- Interview practice – The university nowadays uses the multi-station interview approach – something that is hugely applicable to working in a healthcare setting as a doctor. To prepare, students should consider ways that they could be assessed other than a simple conversation with an interviewer – discussion of an ethical issue or breaking bad news are commonly used stations.
- Personal statement – When writing this out, it can be tempting to simply list off work experiences / roles that you’ve undertaken, but this isn’t enough to prove your worthiness, as pretty much everyone will have some experience under their belt before applying. Think about what each role or experience taught you, and how you have or will use it to improve what you can do as a doctor in the future.