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This post is written by a 1st year medical student at Aston.
I have just finished my first year at Aston medical school and so far, it’s been great. Just sharing some of my experiences here and I hope this gives you an insight into what its like to study Medicine at Aston.
As it’s a new medical school, there are currently only 2 year groups, so it’s a really nice small team and you get to know the staff and other student really well. Lectures are delivered by specialists in the field with guest lecturers/consultants from the local trusts who come in to deliver certain topics within the module.
- An Overview of Teaching Methods
- Typical Timetable of a 1st year Medical Student at Aston
- The Non-Medical Stuff
- 3 Top Tips For Applying to Aston
An Overview of How We Are Taught
So the course here is your traditional 2 years of pre-clinical, followed by 3 years of clinical placements.
Frist year we usually have fixed morning sessions (9-1) every day, with a few afternoon sessions scattered throughout the week.
Morning sessions (9am-1pm)
These run pretty much every single day and focus on the core topics. Typically, a one-hour lecture, followed by a 1.5-2 hour group session, followed by another one hour lecture. This is classed as one ‘session’.
This works really well, as the first lecture introduces the topic, for example it might be a lecture on anatomy of the forearm. Then in the group sessions, we are split into groups of 5-10 to discuss and answer case study questions on the morning lecture with available anatomical models and we might do ultrasounds on each other’s arms for example. There may be 3-4 groups in a room along with 2 clinical teaching fellows available to guide and answer any difficult questions. The lecturer also rotates between the rooms so you can ask questions to that specialist. The second lecture then usually rounds up the topic and clinical case studies are presented, in this case for example common fractures that can arise.
We are taught 5-6 core topics per term, making up the bulk of the content.
Afternoon sessions (2-6pm)
These are more for clinical skills they usually run twice a week. They cover a range of skills from history taking, cardiovascular exam, basic life support, ethics and law, etc.
A one week GP placement middle of term 1 and another after exams in term 2 at the same practice. This is aimed at giving students an introduction to community practice, learn the roles of the GP team, exposure to the professional standards required and to begin communicating with patients with basic history taking.
Wednesday afternoons are always off!
A Typical Timetable of a 1st Year Medic
The Non-Medical Stuff
Birmingham city centre is a great place to live as well as study. There’s lots to explore in the city centre with its museums (Think tank, art gallery, Ikon gallery), hundreds of places to eat, sea life centre and Cadbury world to name a few places.
Most things you’ll need will be within a short walking distance. Getting around is very easy, with 3 train stations within 15 mins walk, you get to most parts of the country with ease.
The university has a large number of established societies so there’s always lots to do and opportunity to meet people from other courses. And sometimes its just nice to get away from medicine.
There’s plenty of university student accommodation available on site, and private apartments throughout the city centre, perfect if you’ll be living out.
Pros of Studying at Aston
• New course, staff are highly receptive to feedback and keen to improve/adapt the course to student needs.
• Small campus – library, student union, gym everything is within a 2 minute walk with accommodation on site.
• City centre location – right in the centre of Birmingham City, next to all the main shops and so many attractions, makes exploration easy. Also from Birmingham you can travel to most of the country easily.
• Medical school is a part of the main building so you are not ‘cut off’ from students from other courses
• Interdisciplinary team lessons – a few lessons during the year we are grouped with other healthcare students, for example from pharmacy, optometry, audiology. We are given a group task such as discussing ethics in the workplace. This is great because it gives an insight into other professions, allows you to meet new people and begin learning to work in a multidisciplinary team early on.
• Having access to 2-3 teaching fellows throughout entire the group sessions is great, as you can call on them at any time to help. Their experience ranges from junior doctors to retired consultants so very spoiled !
• Access to the clinical rooms outside of scheduled lessons – great for practising things you may not have grasped the first time, or if you want to check out anatomical models in more detail.
• Very detailed exam result feedback – 3 mock exams and 2 real exams in the first year! With detailed feedback on question type, topics, student comparison charts. This allows you to know your strengths and identify your weaker areas.
• Lectures are all recorded and optional – perfect if you like to watch lectures from home and be able to speed up/pause/repeat as you go along
Cons of Studying at Aston
• Accommodation can be expensive – Birmingham city centre is quite built up and a lot of students tend to live a little further out (10 mins bus ride) from second year as its more cost effective.
• Clinical placement travel – yes there are loads of hospitals and practices in the Birmingham area, however as there are two medical schools now, sometimes we are placed in practices further out which can take a little longer to get to.
• All group work sessions are compulsory – not everyone finds them useful and the style may not suit everyone. Sometimes the work is easy and you might finish early, other times there might be too much to get through in the sessions.
• As it’s a new medical school, they have been partnered with Leicester medical school and follow their curriculum exactly. This means Aston has less control of its syllabus and content delivery for the first few cohorts.
3 Top Tips For Applying to Aston
1. Take steps to make sure you are committed. Medicine is a marathon not a sprint, with lots of hurdles along the way, so make sure you’ve gotten a good insight into life during medical school, junior doctor training and beyond.
2. Practise MMI style questions – write down common questions you’d expect and have someone listen to you, so you get used to the timing. In the real thing time seems to speed up. You can look at the website to get an idea of the course structure and know about the options/career routes after medical school.
3. Visit the medical school during an open day – see for yourself the facilities used and the explore the campus and accommodation on offer.
Thank you for providing this detailed and interesting insight into Aston.
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