MBBCh Graduate-entry medicine at Swansea University Medical School is a fully independent four year course, primarily based in Swansea and South-East Wales, with the opportunity to undertake clinical placements across Wales. There is an emphasis on clinical contact from the beginning of the programme. It is open to graduates of any discipline who have either achieved a first or upper second class undergraduate degree or a lower second class undergraduate degree plus a postgraduate masters.
Swansea University Medical School was established in 2001 and already has an excellent reputation at home and overseas, not only for teaching but also research.
It is a small medical school with around 100 spaces, so you will benefit from extensive contact with teaching staff and you will have contact with patients right from the start during the first semester.
At Swansea you study basic biomedical sciences in the context of clinical medicine, public health, pathology, therapeutics, ethics, and psycho-social issues in patient management.
Together with a strong focus on clinical and communication skills, you will develop the academic, practical and personal qualities to practise medicine competently and with confidence.
An integrated, spiral curriculum. Learning weeks are based around a clinical case, and a different topic is covered each week with lectures, seminars and practical sessions. Cases are arranged into six themes: defence, movement, behaviour, development, transport and nutrition. The course is not based on traditional ‘body systems’, but to reflect how clinicians approach patients and how they present. There are a range of clinical apprenticeships and attachments from the first year.
What are the best things about your Medical School?
Small and friendly – there are only around 70 students a year, so you get to know your colleagues, the faculty and clinical staff well. This also means you will never be on a clinical attachment with lots of students, so opportunities with patients and to practise skills on placements are plentiful from the first year onwards!
Location! Right next to the beach, not far from the hills and excellent sport facilities. There are good city facilities and transport links.
Lots of medical extra-curricular activities to get involved in – there are a few speciality interest groups such as Emergency Medicine or Cardiovascular societies, opportunities to link with research projects and the chance to undertake placements abroad, in countries such as The Gambia.
What are the hardest things about your course?
It’s a graduate-entry course, so learning weeks are intense and organised, self-directed learning is a given. But we have clinical exposure right from the first few weeks, which is great.
Short holidays – there’s so much to fit in!
Swansea accepts most undergraduate degrees – so to begin with it can be difficult to pitch your study at the right level. We have science and humanity grads and a few previous HCPs. The teaching is aimed at the expected level, so it is important you can pick out areas that you may need to ‘top up’ knowledge outside lectures. But this makes for an interesting, well-rounded cohort of students and there is plenty of support to fill in the gaps.
What’s the social side of your Medical School like?
There’s something for everyone. Boozy nights out, quiet bars and restaurants, trips to Snowdonia, conferences, medic sport teams, teaching evenings, fundraising, revision sessions and formal balls with the whole faculty! MedSoc, the Medical Student Society, make a huge deal of welcoming students (being friendly is what we are known for). Obviously most people don’t live the party-dream the whole time, but there are always things going on to suit everyone.
What tips would you give to someone applying to your Medical School?
You will be asked why you want to study medicine if you make it to interviews anywhere – REALLY think about this and demonstrate that you have attempted to get a realistic understanding of what working as a doctor entails through work experience.
Be yourself and don’t shy away from your achievements even if they seem irrelevant – non-medical experience, sports, hobbies and being a generally well-balanced person are just as important as work experience (maybe more so). Swansea actively looks for applicants who can think outside the box, are friendly and have broad experience. Try and visit the school before the interview!
Don’t give up if you are unsuccessful the first time around. Applying to medicine is incredibly competitive and unfortunately sometimes people won’t get a place, even if they have the prerequisites and have interviewed well. If you are set on becoming a doctor, acknowledge this and don’t be disheartened. Keep your goal in sight, don’t be intimidated by others you feel have better applications or exam scores (avoid internet forums!) and focus on improving your application for the next time. If you are unsuccessful, ask for feedback.