Medicine @ Nottingham | Q&A
These questions have been answered by Teddy (5th year) and Lorraine (1st year graduate entry medical student) at the University of Nottingham.
Teddy’s questions + answers:
The intercalation takes place over the third year, does this make it really intense?
All of the research work for your dissertation is done in the first semester of third year. It can be a pretty intense time, but you also have the most free-time in your degree then. There are barely any lectures happening, and you have plenty of time for self-study. Things usually only get intense if your experiments go wrong, or if you haven’t managed your time effectively. My best advice is for this period of time is to start working early and set yourself a timetable so you can get work done, but still have free time.
What is the third year of research like? Is there lots of support?
I found the research year really fun, though if I’m honest the support you get is based on who you get as a supervisor. My supervisor was wonderful so I got a lot of help with everything, however, I know a few people found they didn’t get the support they needed. The best thing you can do at this time is keen! Your supervisor is much more likely to want to help you if you show interest. In a situation where your supervisor isn’t very helpful, the only thing I can advise is to contact someone in the university to let them know and perhaps receive support elsewhere.
What options are there for the BMedSci? Is it too much for 6 months? Can you still intercalate?
In Nottingham, there are about 20 different topic areas and you can rank your top 10 choices. You might not get the topic you rank first, but you can also pick topics you definitely don’t want to do. I put that I definitely didn’t want to do an Anatomy project. I managed to get my third choice – Cancer Research. Within the topic, there were 10 project titles you could choose from and rank, and I got my first choice.
In Nottingham, because of the hybrid third year, you still get the extra BMedSci degree without taking a year out. You do have the choice to pause your degree apply elsewhere for intercalation – I believe it’s called a “voluntary interruption of study” – but very few people choose to do that.
How is it that everything is a bit more spaced out in the later years and not all close together?
I would argue that everything is much closer together in clinical years! The longest break you will get once you start clinical years is 4 weeks! Everything is full speed ahead from when clinical years start till you graduate.
If you mean in terms of locations clinical placements happen, putting you in a variety of different hospitals gives you a chance to see how different hospitals are run. But I will admit the commutes can be annoying at times.
What’s a competitive score in the UCAT for Nottingham?
Nottingham has a point-based selection for ranking students. They never set a specific cut off for those points as they change year to year depending on the cohort. You can find more information about the specifics of the points system they use here.
Overall though, the best you can do is try and get as high a score as possible.
Is there PBL in the undergraduate course?
There is a PBL project in second year of the undergraduate course, where you can choose your own group and work through case studies together. Plus, none of the things in PBL are tested in the exams, so it’s a stress-free learning experience!
Is there any group work involved in the course?
There is a lot of group work in the course. Whether it’s in seminars, dissections or projects, you’ll always find yourself working with other people throughout the course, which I think is great!
Lorraine’s questions + answers:
Would you say the Nottingham course is more focussed on PBLs or lectures since it is an integrated course?
The 5 year course does not have PBL as a part of their curriculum, however on the 4 year course, PBL is the centre of all that we do. We have 3 PBL sessions a week, with lectures and tutorials to supplement the case that we are on. For exams, we can be tested on anything, but PBL learning objectives take precedence. This is not to say we don’t have a lot of lectures! While PBL is timetabled 4.5 hours a week (with additional self-directed study of course), it is typical for us to have anything from 4-7 lectures a week.
How hard is it to get on to the foundation course?
While it isn’t an exam, there is the PPD (Personal Professional The entry requirements for the foundation course this year are BBC at A Level, which should include Biology (or Human Biology) and Chemistry. From what I have seen, the cohort size is quite small. While the university is not explicit with the number of places on their website, they are very helpful at being transparent when asked for information. Have a look at this page to get in touch with them to find out more.
Do you do full body dissections?
The 5 and 6 year courses do have full body dissections, whereas the 4 year graduate entry course does not. On the GEM course, we have cadaveric prosections – what this means, is that the body parts have already been dissected for you, with anatomical landmarks intact. This can be beneficial, as we do not run the risk of destroying or misidentifying important structures. The anatomy suite is open throughout the week, to allow you to have as much experience with the cadavers as you’d like. Members of staff are also around to give you a hand.
The blog says that UoN likes clinical experience but I can’t get any with the pandemic. Can you suggest any alternatives?
UoN, as with every other university at the moment, is aware of the difficulties that come with gaining clinical experience at this current time. For this reason, you will not be disadvantaged for a lack of clinical experience, and your application for 2021 entry will not be negatively affected. With that being said, there are a number of virtual experience platforms available at the moment. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has a platform for UK based students called ObserveGP, and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School also has launched virtual work experience. Taking part in both and making reflective accounts of your experience would be a good idea to give you an insight into medicine, as well as prepare you for interview.
You have a GP placement every module in first year, but do you get any hospital visits? If not, when do you get those?
On GEM, for the first 18 months you do not take part in clinical placements (including hospital visits). As stated above, you get a GP placement for each module. Once you complete the first 18 months, the remainder of your time on the course (2.5 years) will be the ‘clinical phase’, rotating through specialties within hospitals and other establishments.
How far can GP placements be and do you stay at the same GP or go to different ones?
GP placements can be anywhere from 10 minutes away from the Royal Derby Hospital, to the Peak District and Chesterfield. The majority are within an hour radius of the hospital. Personal circumstances, as well as whether or not you have a car are all taken into consideration when you are being matched with a GP practice. You will remain at the same GP practice for each of your ~9 visits (one per module, for the first 18 months of the course).
Any advice to gap year students applying to Nottingham (2021 entry)?
My advice would be to try and get a job in the healthcare sector, somewhere that you can gain experience as well as earning money to save for tuition, maintenance or anything else. I worked as a HCA in sexual health, and learned venepuncture as well as history taking as a part of my role, so I found that quite handy. Also, it’s a good opportunity to learn more. If you have the chance, you can take up extra studies in something you’re passionate about. I used the time to also do my MSc, which is in a field I’d love to someday specialise in. Finally, the most important thing to do in your gap year is to have fun! Medicine is a manageable but intense course, and it may be a long time before you get a lot of time off. If you can, travel, take up some hobbies, or use the time to do anything that brings you joy.
Thank you to Teddy and Lorraine for for answering these questions! You can find out more about them both on Instagram!
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