Dentistry in English - Universidad Europea de Madrid (UEM)Watch
I’m a recently qualified dentist who just completed their studies at UEM studying dentistry in English.
With my new-found free time waiting for registration I thought I would make a thread discussing some things I wish I’d known, and also to invite questions from anyone considering studying there or having already obtained a place and bursting with questions about what it’s like.
- START SPANISH AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! - I was lucky and had a relatively good level of Spanish before starting. However I can’t tell you the number of people I know who failed to make it into the final 2 clinic years due to their insufficient level of Spanish. Please do try and throw yourself into it and make a real effort. The university do provide free Spanish courses to get you to the required level of B2.2 for clinics, so please do take advantage of them and study hard. You don’t want to be passing all your theory subjects with flying colours to be held back a year due to a failed Spanish test.
- “Dentistry 100% in English” - I know this is what is advertised on the website but it simply isn’t true. While the bulk of your classes will be taught in English you will often have laboratory instructors for example who simply don’t speak English and therefore some labs will be taught in Spanish in places. This happened to my group personally in 3rd year quite a lot. Teachers will sometimes also switch between languages in class but this is less common and depends on the teacher. Having said that this only seemed to occur from 3rd year onwards when I guess they assume your Spanish level will have progressed by then. However this wasn’t true for everyone so look again at my first point.
- The teaching units are organised in modules worth a given number of credits, with the normal credit workload being 60 credits per year, and the maximum number of credits being 72. This means that if the worst happens and you fail a subject, you can add it on to the next year (therefore having 66 credits in total that following year). This also means that if you already hold a relevant qualification, for example a biomedical science degree or if you’ve already started a dentistry/medicine degree elsewhere, that you could potentially bring the degree length down to 4 years instead of five depending on if you can convalidarte enough credits by equivalence (I know some people who did this so can ask if you’re in this situation)
- Following on from the format of modules I’ll now speak a little about assessments. The majority of the examinations during the degree were a multiple choice question format, with the occasional longer answer question exam or written case exam thrown in. As well as the theory exams there will also be several laboratory/practical assessments, and smaller tasks (e.g. presentations/group work) throughout the year. One thing to note is that EVERY ASSESSMENT COUNTS, even smaller things like group work or seminar work. This is to say that for example if for a given subject as well as the main theory exams and lab tests you also have an activity that is worth 1%, if you were to fail/miss this activity and not retake it YOU WOULD FAIL THE ENTIRE SUBJECT EVEN IF IT’S ONLY WORTH 1%. Every assessment counts. This is not usually a problem as there are usually opportunities to retake assessments of any kind, but I thought it was a good thought to have in the back of your heads when starting that every assessment counts.
- Theory exams are usually 1 or 2 times a semester. Should you fail an exam you will have another opportunity to retake it during the ‘periodo extraordinario’ in July. If you were then to fail it again you would have to retake the whole subject again the following year (possibly adding on a whole year to your degree if you already have the maximum 72 credits scheduled for that following year) and that also means paying the roughly €1800 again to retake a 6 credit module.
- Another thing that I didn’t really consider going into it is that unlike in other countries such as the United Kingdom YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR ALMOST LITERALLY ALL OF YOUR EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS! This could range from buying xrays for €8 for a pack of 20 right up to having to buy an articulator for €1200+ for prosthodontics. These materials/instruments are usually bought in dental shops or ‘dental depositories’ and occasionally online. These shops are scattered around Villaviciosa de Odón to cater to the high number of dental students but can often rip you off as they are simply the only option. Luckily for you all there have been a number of new dental shops opening up over the last few years so competitions has brought prices down somewhat.
- The facilities - the facilities at the university are generally very good. The labs are decent (I’ve seen some uk dental schools that are a lot less modern) and on the whole the campus is beautiful.
- Teaching quality - on the whole the level of teaching was okay, but varied considerably. Some teachers’ English really wasn’t good enough, but at the other end of the spectrum many were brilliant teachers who really cared about their subjects.
- Class style - unlike in the UK classes are not conducted in large lecture halls of 100+ students, but in class groups of up to roughly 40 people depending on the intake that year or the number of people retaking outside of the normal subject pathway. Classes are help in more ‘school-style’ classrooms rather than large lecture theatres.
- Student affairs - generally really helpful and always have someone on hand who speaks English should your Spanish be in its early days. Often huge queues and long wait times but this isn’t the fault of the staff on the desks. When you aren’t able to attend in person requests/complaints are handled on the unis own online system which was a bit hit and miss in the past but I’m told it’s seen improvements.
The University Clinics:
- The first thing to note is that the clinical work is considered a subject or normal module with a credit value. This means that if you were to fail your clinic year you would be able to retake it the following year depending on the credits you already have lined up (see above)
- Passing or failing clinics depends on a variety of factors. The clinic work requires 200% attendance and absences are punished severely. Their requirements of a doctors/sick note or exception are rigorous, so try not to miss a shift. Students can also fail for having a certain number of ‘falta graves’ which can be anything from forgetting a consent form to having your phone with you in clinics. You are also evaluated on your ‘competencias’ which can include things like teamwork and organisation, as well as obviously being graded on the treatments you provide as well.
- Treatment quotas - by far the thing that causes clinic students the most stress are treatment quotas. These are an arbitrary number of different treatments that the university decides each year are required to pass the subject. Other than trying to swap patients with friends THESE ARE COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR CONTROL! You get the patients you are given and there is no automated booking system that the quota needs of the students into account. So if you get a patient who needs a lot of work do everything you can to keep them. Should you fail to reach the decided number of treatments by the end of the semester you will have to retake clinics in the ‘periodo extraordinario’ in July the same as with exams. However contrary to all logic and common sense you do not return simply to perform the treatments you are lacking. YOU RETURN EVERY DAY FOR A MONTH WITH A COMPLETELY NEW SET OF QUOTAS TO FILL. And obviously if you’re unlucky with the availability of patients or whatever and fail to meet these new quotas then you have to retake the whole year of clinics again, adding on a year to your degree and several thousands of euros to your bill.
- Clinic schedule and computer system - the computer system is functional but not very modern and often slows down appointments considerably. The main grievance most of us had is that we are NOT ALLOWED ACCESS TO THE SCHEDULES. This means that save for a sneaky workaround some of us discovered YOU WILL NOT KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE UNTIL YOU ARRIVE. Sadly this means that it is often difficult to prepare for an upcoming treatment and you may be surprised by a difficult treatment you have not prepared well for that is just thrown upon you last minute.
- Obviously you provide the majority of the instruments for the clinics as with labs at the university. Luckily this time the clinic provide the ‘consumables’ such as composites and alginate etc.
General life in Madrid/Villaviciosa de Odón;
- Madrid is an incredible city and one of the things I will miss most about studying abroad. It’s cheap and ideal for students.
- Most students live in Villaviciosa de Odón for their first few years and then move to the city in 4th year to be closer to clinics (the 06:00 morning bus into Madrid for clinics isn’t fun).
- Villaviciosa de Odón - is a lovely town about 30 minute bus ride from the city itself. There are supermarkets and really good bars and restaurants. It’s a weird place and a real melting pot of cultures due to the wide variety of nationalities of students living there.
- Transport - if you don’t plan on driving out there then the public transport is your only option. Honestly the public transport in Madrid was one of the things that shocked me most when arriving there. Having been to other parts of Spain over the years and seen the horrendous public transport on offer I was surprised by how amazing the Madrid system was. If you’re under the age of 26/27 ( I can’t remember exactly which) then for only €20 a month you can get a travel card giving you access to all public transport in Madrid and the surrounding areas. It really is incredible value for money.
That’s all I could think of now off the top of my head. As I remember new things I believe to be relevant I’ll periodically come back and add new points.
Please feel free to post on here or message me personally with any questions, or if I haven’t explained myself well above and you want clarification.
Hey so are you going to be completing a foundation year in the UK and if so do you have to take any exams before practicing?
It won’t matter too much though as there are many other ways to get a performers number and it won’t really change much in the long-term.
But just to be clear we did not need to take any extra examinations such as the ORE. Other than the uk grads being given preference for DFT scheme locations, we can begin working in the UK as if we had graduated from within the uk itself.
Seeing as you studied abroad, are there any tests you have to take to work as a dentist in UK or has brexit affected you in anyway?
Simply put no I have not and will not have to take a test and personally brexit has not affected me. As to if brexit would affect things in the future after it is finalised it’s impossible to say.