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Cardiff Medical School

By Sophie Simmonds

My name is Sophie and in September, I’m going to be starting 4th year at Cardiff Medical School.

Cardiff Medical School is a 5-year course, where you graduate at the end of it with a MBBCh (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) and can then apply for medical registration. There are many different routes into medicine, such as the traditional 5 years straight from A-Levels, however I chose the graduate entry route. As a graduate specifically for Cardiff entry requirements, you need to have studied one of the 4 approved BSc (Hons) degrees that Cardiff accept. I chose BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences from the University of South Wales. From this more non-traditional pathway, you enter straight into year 2 of the 5-year degree, so you’re only doing a 4-year course.

The medicine course is split in different phases, with Year 1 & 2 being Phase 1, Year 3 and 4 being Phase 2 and then final year being Phase 3. Phase 1 is all about core sciences and understanding the background of clinical medicine, with introduction to clinical practice through placement in hospitals and GP practices. You also will understand a human cadaveric dissection in your first year, which is an incredible opportunity. The main learning structure is through case based learning (CBL), where you are presenting with a case that you spent the next couple weeks working on and having lectures and practicals built around the learning objectives.

Year 3 and 4 is all about building on the foundations you learnt in Years 1 and 2 and applying them during full time placement. In Year 3, your placements are based on the key chronic diseases, you can encounter in a hospital setting or community setting. This could include disciplines like oncology, surgery or ‘hospital front door’, where you spend time in A&E, CDU and ITU, among other areas of the hospital. During this phase, you are able to follow the journey of an individual patient to really appreciate the care they received, and why they received it.

Placements in year 4 look further into chronic disease with a 2nd block dedicated to spending time on maternity, labour wards and paediatrics wards. You also have a split placement block for ophthalmology, neurology, and psychological medicine. Both Year 3 and 4 have a 6-week block for a student selective component (SSC), where you can choose a project of your choice in whatever specialty that interests you.

Year 5 is the final year of the course, which aims to bring everything together in what Cardiff calls a ‘Harmonisation programme’. This basically means making sure you have everything you need to transition from medical student to an F1, with ease and confidence in your abilities as a new doctor.

Below are my 5 Top Reasons for choosing to study Medicine at Cardiff.

1. Early patient contact. Within a couple months at Cardiff, you’re spending a day a week on placement talking and examining patients.

2. The opportunity to do a full human body dissection is a rare and wonderful opportunity, that a lot of medical schools can’t or don’t offer.

3. Emphasis isn’t on passing exams but becoming better doctors. Yes, there are exams but it’s more about what you have learnt on placement and ensuring you’re progressing at your own rate and not learning for the sake of an exam, that you will forget all the answers to 5 minutes later.

4. There is plenty of time for activities outside medicine, which are encouraged just as much as studying is. It is well known that the medical school care about our mental health and wellbeing, as much as passing the exams.

5. The community at Cardiff is amazing! With so many different societies to join and so many different diverse groups of students, all willing to help each other by putting on revision sessions or mock OSCEs. Cardiff has a very good student support system and it’s reflected by our medical community (especially around exam time!).

I’m originally from Cardiff and wanted to stay local for many reasons such as family, living costs and being able to keep my weekend job, but Cardiff has so much to offer to students coming here to study. Below are my Top 3 Reasons for choosing to live in Cardiff for University.

1. Cardiff has an incredible city centre that has everything you need, all within walking distance and caters to all desires and budgets.

2. Compared to other big cities across the UK, renting in Cardiff is significantly cheaper, yet you can still find lots of high-quality housing.

3. There is a massive student nightlife culture in Cardiff, with lots of clubs and pubs with student nights and deals on every night of the week: so there is always something to do!

Overall, I’m really happy with my decision to study medicine at Cardiff. I feel the teaching style suits me, as I learn best on placement being hands on with the patients and feeling part of the team. I’m grateful I got to stay close to home and family too. I think the course offers a new refreshing style of teaching medicine and I’m eager to carry on with my last couple years. I hope this article has been helpful! If you have any questions you can find me on twitter @smoph_star

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