Medicine @ Cardiff | Q&A

These questions have been answered by “Medic On The Mend (4th year), “travellinghijabimedic” (3rd year) and Cara Leighton (2nd year) medical students at Cardiff.

Medic on The Mend’s questions + answers:

Can you work in NHS England after going to Cardiff?

Yes!!! Studying in Wales does not affect where you can work in the future. Foundation training works on a points based system in order to place final year medical students in foundation year jobs all over the UK. Each individual can rank each of the deaneries in the UK in any order they choose and thus go where they feel most comfortable. 

The benefit to studying in wales and then working in wales as a foundation doctor is that in your final year of university you actually get to shadow the job you will be taking over as a junior doctor. 

How many hours a day are you expected to work?

In reality, you are not forced to work a certain amount of hours and you can put in as little or as much work as you desire. However, at Cardiff medical school they aim to make students independent learners giving you lots of time to investigate a subject yourself and thus becoming familiar with it. I would say that most students will work around 40 hours a week including their time in university. 

The university provides lectures at the beginning of the course to help provide information of the amount of work they expect you to be undertaking. 

I would say that in an average week I do around 10-15 hours of extra work outside of my usual placement time

Do you think it will be hard to commute about an hour everyday?

It can be difficult to commute to uni due to the pressure it can put on your studies however, I know it is certainly possible. There are many students who commute to Cardiff from their homes and still get involved in multiple societies and are successful. I think it important to make a decision that you feel the most comfortable in. 

Some students may find commuting hard due to the stress of the course, whilst others may be able to handle the journey. On top of this during placement there is usually a lot of time commuting to different parts of Wales so this may become less of a problem the higher in the years you go.

Are there many opportunities in Cardiff e.g. part-time jobs, recreational?

Cardiff is a student city. Many of the local retail and events companies have multiple jobs for students. Cardiff has one of the best and most active SU’s in the UK and it offers a job shop which can help you get work opportunities through your time at university. On top of this Cardiff is huge for rugby and other sporting events leading to multiple opportunities to work at big games in sports. 

Recreationally Cardiff is a city full of exciting pass times. The city is huge for sport with Cardiff city playing in the championship (and potentially the premier league), the millennium stadium and multiple other sporting events. There is a yearly varsity where cardiff goes head to head with it’s rival university, Swansea. 

Outside of sport Cardiff has a great city centre with lots of bars, restaurants and cafes. The arcades are great places to adventure to find new local businesses to eat out! 

Also, we are lucky in Cardiff to be a short distance away from amazing natural beauty. If you are a keen hiker, or interested in the outdoors in any regard, Cardiff offers easy access to the brecon beacons, the gower and tonnes of other natural sites.

Do you know if Cardiff puts more of an emphasis on UCAT for international students without GCSEs?

The Cardiff university website offers a great insight into requirements for international students. A great way to find more out about this would be to email the admissions team to try and understand more clearly about how the admissions process will work for you!

Do you have the opportunity to intercalate? Do many students do this?

Yes! Cardiff offers students the chance to intercalate between 3rd and 4th year or 4th and 5th year. 

Cardiff’s university website has a list of the intercalated degrees it offers some of which take place in bangor in north wales. The newest edition is an intercalated degree named EPIC (emergency, pre-hospital and immediate care), it is extremely popular and allows students to spend a full year in different A&E departments gaining in-depth knowledge about emergency physicians. 

There are around 114 places each year to intercalate at Cardiff medical school with the majority of these spaces being reserved for Cardiff medical students. Lots of people intercalate and there is an equal split between intercalating between 3rd and 4th year and 4th and 5th year.

What proportion of students are graduates?

There are around 300 places for undergraduates at Cardiff medical school. Usually around 3000 people apply, 1500 get interviews and around 600 get offers. In terms of graduates Cardiff only accepts graduates from cardiff approved feeder courses, this includes: 

  • BSc (Hons) Medical Pharmacology Degree School of Medicine Cardiff University (B210)
  • BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences Degree School of Biosciences Cardiff University (BC97)
  • BMedSci Degree from the University of Bangor (B100)
  • BSc (Hons) Medical Sciences Degree from the University of South Wales (B901)

Between 20-30 post graduates are accepted to study at Cardiff every year however, a small amount of undergraduate places also go to postgraduate student (6 in 2016). 

Do you have a medsoc? Is it very active?

As a member of the cardiff medsoc, I can tell you that we do have a medsoc and it is very active. Medsoc aims to put on loads of events throughout the year including balls, nights out and educational evenings. 

Just recently the medsoc has put together a clinical foundations lecture series for 4th and 5th years preparing them for clinical practice and ISCE’s post covid. We also have about 3 balls a year and year specific balls thrown in too! (One of the highlights of the first year was our first year ball!)

travellinghijabimedic’s questions + answers:

How much placement on average is there over the first 2 years?

So the first term starts with preclinical sciences (PCS) which lasts up until christmas but after that you will be on placement around once a week! As Cardiff is based around CBL sessions in the first 2 years your placement will be determined by what topic you are covering in each case! This may mean that you attend placement once a fortnight or once weekly in the first 2 years! Placement is very hands on and so much fun!

How far can clinical placements be and how do students usually travel to them?

In the first 2 years, you will be spread across 4 different placement sites which include Cardiff, Bridgend, Newport and Merthyr. Transport is provided which includes university buses and taxis! A large part of pre-clinical placement is based at GP which is a great opportunity for small group teaching. So a bus will be provided from Cardiff to each placement hub and further transport will be provided to help you travel from the hub to the GP surgery. Typically, half the day is spent in the hub carrying out clinical skills and the other half involves seeing patients at the GP surgery!

For your clinical years are you based at a particular site or do you rotate around?

We rotate! In 3rd year there are 3 rotations and in 4th year there are even more rotations. At Cardiff you can be placed anywhere in Wales and if this is more than an hour away from Cardiff accommodation is usually provided. I was placed up in North Wales for 8 weeks and I had the best time ever. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people on your course and get to know doctors in a far more quiet hospital in comparison to Cardiff! Everyone is so friendly and this really is a perk of coming to Cardiff! You also get the chance to explore the beautiful countryside landscapes whilst on placement in various areas of Wales!

Can you tell us a bit more about how dissection works at Cardiff?

Dissection is predominantly carried out in the first semester which is called preclinical sciences (PCS). We are very privileged to participate in cadaver dissection. We are placed into groups of 6 and have an allocated cadaver in which there are 2 dissection sessions twice a week which lasts around 3 hours each! From second semester onwards anatomy is taught mainly via prosections. We have a formative anatomy exam in January of 1st year but after that there are no summative exam solely based around anatomy! Overall, dissection is very hands on and we are almost thrown in the deep end as dissection is undertaken so early on. It can be quite daunting and scary at first but, dissection is an amazing way to learn anatomy and we are so privileged to have the opportunity to do it!

When do you start having OSCEs?

Our first OSCEs are undertaken at the end of 2nd year. There are 6 rotations, each lasting 15 minutes each. At this point we are not expected to know the management of conditions, so they are not too bad! However, it is important to be able to undertake common histories and examinations, clinical procedures and data interpretation! But practise this is definitely do-able!

Our finals are done at the end of 4th year, which is very different to a lot of med-schools who carry out their final OSCEs in 5th year. This can be seen as an advantage as it means finals are out the way and 5th year is solely based around consolidation and really getting a feel for what foundations years will involve. 

Would you say the atmosphere at Cardiff is competitive or more relaxed?

Cardiff is definitely a more relaxed med-school and everyone is so friendly. I feel that competition will always exist among medics but Cardiff is definitely a lot more relaxed in comparison to what I have heard about other medical schools!

What would you say makes Cardiff medical school stand out?

So many things! Firstly, it is such a nice atmosphere and the perfect student city! Cardiff really enables you to have that work-life balance and has a multitude of different societies! Everyone is so friendly and the med-school always has your best interest at heart. A lot of the teaching is based around self-study including CBL, student selected components (SSC) and clinical placements. It really is the place to be!

Also, Cardiff placements can be held anywhere in Wales which is an amazing opportunity to explore and discover the hidden gems of the welshland! The beach is so close and only 30 mins away! If you fancy an adventure, Cardiff would be a great place for you!

Is Cardiff a busy city?

Cardiff is the perfect city! For a capital city, I don’t feel that it is super busy. It is almost a town but with enough things going on to keep you busy. Everything is in close proximity and is a walking distance. There are so many parks around central Cardiff and other places to visit such as Brecon Beacons, Penarth and Snowdonia. There is always an event going on during weekends and interestingly a lot of shows have been filmed in Cardiff such as Doctor Who and Sherlock! I would highly recommend you pay a visit to Cardiff and get a feel for the city!

Cara’s questions + answers:

Do you know if taking the IELTS is mandatory for international students applying to Cardiff?

I think there are a number of different English language qualifications accepted. I have added the link to the relevant page on the Cardiff University website where you can find out more. If this doesn’t help I would recommend sending an email to the admissions team.

What is placement like at Cardiff?

In first and second year placement is 1 day a week during case weeks, from January of year 1 all the way through to the end of year 2.

Each day of placement is split in half. Half of the day will be spent at your placement hub (either in Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil or Abergavenny) doing clinical skills. The other half of the day will be spent in a range of clinical settings, such as a GP surgery, physiotherapy clinic, or in a workshop or talk, although most weeks were in the GP. I found placement really fun during first year. It was nice to get out of the classroom or lecture theatre and meet patients and learn clinical skills. It was also really nice to get to know and work with more of my course mates.

In clinical years (year 3, 4 and 5) placements are in 8 week blocks and you can go all over Wales!

How does CBL work at Cardiff? Do you think it’s an effective form of teaching?

CBL starts in January of year 1 and ends in June of year 2. In this time you will cover 17 cases (6 in year 1 and 11 in year 2). Each case is 2 weeks long and every lecture/practical/seminar/placement in those 2 weeks will relate to the case, or the system that the case is based around. During each case you have 3 seminars with your case group (a group of around 10 students and one facilitator, academic or clinician) where you read and discuss the case scenario and then come up with learning outcomes. You then take these learning outcomes away and answer them from the information given in lectures and practicals and also from your own independent learning. Throughout years 1 and 2 you will have 3 different case groups, one each term.

For me it is a very effective way of learning as I find it very interactive. There is a great variety of teaching methods, which personally I think is more interesting than just lectures. I also enjoy the independent learning aspects of it, as this allows you to go at your own pace and look into things that may interest you more.

Do you know if you have to send in transcripts and certificates after submitting the UCAS application? Do you know if international applicants have to?

I don’t remember having to send in any certificates or transcripts. However this could be different depending on what qualifications you are applying with and how you go through UCAS. I’m not sure if international applicants have to, I would recommend emailing admissions to find out.

What would you say makes PCS intense? Is it the volume of content?

I think there are a few things that make PCS quite intense. The volume of content is definitely very heavy, so that is one reason. I think the fact that you’re also trying to settle into university, including a new city, new housemates,and trying to make friends at the same time definitely contributes too.

However, PCS is supposed to be a sort of building block for the rest of the course, you’re not expected to learn it all immediately or even within first year, so it’s not as bad as it seems. I think it does take most people a while to realise this though, which can add to it feeling a bit intense.

Do you have any tips for Cardiff interviews?

  • Know the interview structure! Cardiff uses MMIs which consist of 9 8 minute stations (plus a rest station), so it is a pretty long interview.
  • Research the course at Cardiff and have a clear idea of why you chose to apply there.
  • Know the 4 pillars of medical ethics.
  • Practice! Get your parents, friends, siblings etc to ask you questions (you can find loads of free ones online) and try and get your school to run a mock MMI too.

Approximately how many students are there in a year group?

There’s around 300 students in each year.

What do you love the most about the city of Cardiff?

There are so many things I love about Cardiff, it’s too difficult to choose just one!

I like that it is such a student friendly city. There are so many students in Cardiff that a whole area of the city (Cathays) is almost exclusively a student area and it has all the shops, cafes and facilities you could possibly need.

I love that it’s not too big – pretty much everything is in walking distance, and if not there are plenty of buses.

I also like that Cardiff is close to the sea and the Brecon Beacons National Park so there are plenty of opportunities to explore the rest of South Wales!

How far is accommodation from the medical school?

This depends on the accommodation! Cardiff University has a number of halls across quite a large area of Cardiff for first years. Most people, however, stay in Talybont which is a very big accommodation and consists of 4 different halls; Talybont South, North, Court and Gate. Below I have listed how long it takes to walk to the medical school and to the students union, which is at the main university campus in Cathays (the student area of Cardiff) from a few of the different halls.

  • Talybont (aka Taly) – 20 to 25 minute walk from the medical school and 20 minute walk to the SU.
  • University Hall – 25 minute walk to the medical school and 35 to 40 minute walk to the SU. There is also a university hall bus service that runs to both campuses which is free for people who live there.
  • Senghennydd Hall and Court – 35 to 40 minute walk to the medical school and 10 minute walk to the SU.
  • Aberdare Hall – 35 minute walk to the medical school and 5 minute walk to the SU.

This is the link to the accommodation page on the university website.

Thank you for answering these questions about Cardiff! You can find out more about them all on their social media below:

Medic on The Mend



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Posted by:Life of a Medic

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