Why should I study medicine in the UK and what should I look for?
There are plenty of reasons to take up medicine – a career that changes people’s lives, excellent job prospects, interesting and varied roles – and naturally, if you’re going to spend five years studying then you want to make sure it is somewhere highly respected.
UK medical education is admired globally and medical schools in the UK have a long history of excellence and of offering training to overseas doctors.
Applying to a UK medical school is very competitive, so you need to do your research. The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) offers an MBBS (Bachelor or Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) to international students. Experts from the university give you their top tips on what you need to look for so you make the right choice.
1. Third party, official accreditation
Some students are relying heavily on university league tables for medical school credibility. This can be helpful and indeed, the Centre for World University Rankings 2016 (CWUR) has boosted UCLan’s global reputation by ranking it in the top 3.7% of all worldwide universities.
But it’s wise to look elsewhere for endorsements as league tables don’t give the full picture. Check that they are quality assured by the General Medical Council, the UK’s professional regulatory body and have a look at latest reports for the school of medicine you apply to.
What do students think of the programme? At the end of the first semester 96% of students on the MBBS course rated their learning experience as good or very good.
3. A quality education and innovative curriculum
Is the curriculum of your chosen course informed by the latest practice? At UCLan, we have co-designed the curriculum of our medical degree, the MBBS, with not only local NHS leaders, but patients as well.
The degree should integrate academic science with clinical skills.
UCLan’s Professor Cathy Jackson, Head of the School of Medicine, says: “Our MBBS programme offers a very inclusive, patient-centred approach to medical education. The programme offers students exceptional practical clinical training, early patient contact and small class sizes, all delivered in the UK’s newest medical school. We have recruited a strong academic team and thanks to the quality of the programme and our outstanding facilities, the number of high calibre applications continues to increase year on year.”
4. A high quality experience
Some universities recruit hundreds of medical students a year. This can create a lively, diverse learning environment, but some students may prefer a smaller cohort size which allows greater access to staff and students. Here at UCLan we recruit small cohorts of approximately 50 international students, so we are able to offer a warm and supportive learning environment where students are treated as individuals.
Student Saif Akhter Ansari, from India and the United Arab Emirates, says: “I chose to study medicine at UCLan because they’ve got a small cohort of international students which means better teacher to student ratio and of course, they’ve got great facilities. I haven’t seen any other medical school with such great facilities. (The UCLan MBBS) promotes holistic learning, it promotes practical skills, it promotes becoming a good doctor.”
5. How up to date are the school’s facilities and how often will you use them?
Medical students can access some outstanding facilities in medical schools in the UK. Here at UCLan, the six campus-based clinical skills laboratories have a vast range of equipment - including a number of high fidelity clinical human simulators - to help develop clinical skills in realistic hospital, home and GP surgery environments. You’ll learn about the workings of the human body in the Human Anatomy Resource and Learning Centres.
6. Staff experience
No matter how new the school may be, you should always look at the staff profiles to see who will be teaching you and what experience they have. As the UCLan School of Medicine is relatively new, we have staff who have joined us from other medical schools in the UK and globally. Those staff will have had many life experiences to share and add to their teaching.
7. Real world experience and patient involvement
When will you meet patients and how much time will you spend with them? It is very important that a medical student learns how to communicate with a patient, put them at ease and work with them to treat their condition. In some schools it may be a considerable time before you meet your first patient, but at UCLan, students meet volunteer patients in the first week of first year and take up their first clinical placement in year one, semester two.
8. Qualification with a worldwide recognition
The UCLan MBBS programme has been designed so that students are trained to the highest UK standards. In addition, the curriculum has been closely aligned to the requirements of the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE).
9. Multi-professional approach
Modern medicine is practised as part of a team. An interdisciplinary approach is important to all medical professionals
UCLan School of Medicine is part of a College of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences and students undertake interdisciplinary learning alongside pharmacists, biomedical scientist, dentists as well as students from the wider UCLan institution studying physiotherapy, nursing and midwifery.
All graduates from UK Medical Schools can apply for post-qualification training in the UK, subject to visa eligibility. This is a highly competitive process.
With multiple options for postgraduate training available to UCLan MBBS graduates, our Transitions Lead will work with students on a prospective and proactive basis, from early in training, to facilitate onward working across the globe.
We do not have a cohort of students which have completed their medical degree yet, but typically 100% of UCLan graduates from the Pharmacy and Dentistry degree programmes have gone on to professional or managerial positions within six months of graduation.