Swansea University Medical School

Swansea’s MBBcH graduate entry course is a four-year course that follows an integrated, spiral curriculum. The small size of Swansea’s medical school means that students will benefit from extensive contact with academic staff. Students will have clinical contact from the beginning whilst learning about the fundamental biomedical sciences in a clinical context, pathology, ethics and psycho-social issues in patient management.

Through lectures, practicals and seminars, students will spend each learning week on a different clinical case. The cases fall into six different themes: nutrition, development, transport, movement, defence and behaviour. This course does not follow the traditional ‘body systems’ structure, but instead focuses on how clinicians approach patients.

The programme is split into two phases, with phase one occurring during year one and two. During these two years, students will have learning weeks that are case based and incorporate Integrated Clinical Method. Additionally, one day of every fourth or fifth week is dedicated to community-based learning in a GP. Learning opportunities in both a clinical and research setting are also experienced too.

In phase two, over years three and four, there are clinical apprenticeships and assistantships in the Medicine, Surgery and Primary Care settings. Students also undergo speciality attachments over eight five-week placements in Medicine, Women’s Health, Mental Health, Child Health, Acute Surgery as well as sub-specialties of Medicine and Surgery and Frailty. These all include Integrated Clinical Method and simulation too. There is an opportunity for an elective in year four, which many choose to take overseas. At the end of year four and prior to FY1, students will take on a senior assistantship in which they will shadow FY1 doctors.

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Case Study

Amy Nixon
Year of Study:

What are the best things about your Medical School?

  1. 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!
  1. Location! Right next to the beach, not far from the hills and excellent sport facilities. There are good city facilities and transport links.
  1. 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?

  1. 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.
  1. Short holidays – there’s so much to fit in!
  1. 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?

  1. 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.
  1. 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!
  1. 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.

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