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This post is written by Sarah Yasin, a 2nd year medical student at Dundee University.
Today I’ll be introducing to you to what medicine is really like at Dundee Medical School. From the start of my medical journey to now I have had a brilliant experience, which has definitely taught me a lot. Dundee’s medical school is hugely focussed on early patient contact which was one of the reasons that solidified my decision to study here. I’ll discuss more on this in the post. From my own experience I have found Dundee a brilliant place to study medicine and I am thoroughly enjoying my time here, let me give you a small insight into the world of medicine at Dundee.
- An Overview of Teaching Methods
- Typical Timetable of a 1st year Medical Student at Dundee
- The Non-Medical Stuff
- 3 Top Tips For Applying to Dundee
An Overview of How We Are Taught
The teaching style here at Dundee is a mix of lectures and tutorials and this allows for a beneficial range of small and large group teaching sessions. Lectures are done as a whole year and they allow the doctors and clinicians who double up as our lecturers to deliver and introduce new content. These lectures are often followed by tutorial sessions where smaller groups of students work through the condition that has been introduced earlier in lectures but with a more clinical outlook on how a patient may present. Tutorials also give students the opportunity to clarify any questions and apply their understanding.
At Dundee anatomy is taught through dissections, it is important when choosing which medical school, you want to start your medical journey with to evaluate their teaching style and see if it suits you. Dissection at Dundee consists of one 2-2.5-hour session weekly in the anatomy lab which is often preceded by an anatomy lecture to ensure that time spent in the lab is most beneficial. In the anatomy lab students are divided into groups of 4-5 and are given a cadaver for the year from which you can learn key anatomical knowledge. Personally, I find dissection a brilliant opportunity which allows me the chance to practically develop my understanding, you are allowed to visualise structures and anatomical placement of organs and bones. Your cadaver offers an understanding of anatomy and teaches you such valuable insights that would often be difficult to receive from textbooks.
The medical school at Dundee is attached to the local hospital and this gives us students ample opportunities to meet patients and refine our practical and communication skills. Clinical skills which teaches practical skills such as examinations and procedures such as conducting an ECG alongside communication skills (such as history taking) are all taught within the Clinical Skills Centre. The Centre is wonderfully equipped to allow students the chance to simulate hospital wards and gain the key practice on peers and simulated patients. Having this opportunity, I believe not only betters your practical and communication skills but also allows you to get that key feedback from the mock patients which is so beneficial to bettering yourself.
Alongside the various teaching methods mentioned previously, at Dundee we also have microbiology sessions in the labs and practical basic emergency care training in first year.
The teaching style at Dundee encompasses a wide range of methods, all of which allow you to understand, consolidate and apply your knowledge. Tutors and lecturers are always on hand or an email away to help you out.
A Typical Timetable of a 1st Year Medic
The Non-Medical Stuff
It is important to keep in mind that Dundee is a small city where a significant percentage of the population comes from the students. Being a small city comes with both its pros and cons, access around the city is very easy and convenient with the transport system and even on foot, with the shopping centre only a 5-minute walk from the main campus. The campus itself is always bustling with students and it sits near the centre of the city offering access to anything you may need. The ranges of food places nearby cater to all dietary needs and offer some brilliant food with great student discount.
At Dundee University we have two libraries for medical students, one is on the main campus which is open to all students until 2am and then we have the medical school library which offers a great selection of medical books and is open 24/7.
On the main campus we also have the ISE which is the student gym, which can be accessed after getting membership. The gym houses a lot of sports societies such as yoga, rugby, netball and many more which are extremely popular and it’s a brilliant place to unwind following classes.
Most student accommodation is on the main campus (Heathfield, Seabraes, Belmont Flats and Towers) which allows easy access to the main library, the student union and local shops (LIDL and TESCO Extra are both short walks from campus), some students opt to stay at West Park which sits halfway between the medical school and main campus. From my own personal experience having stayed at Heathfield, I found it to be the best accommodation option. Heathfield sits a short distance from the Union, so it prevents any noise filtering through however with it still being on campus it allows easy access all around. West Park though halfway I found was slightly isolated and requires some travelling to access the local shops.
Pros of Studying at Dundee
There is honestly a wide range of reasons why you should study medicine at Dundee but let me tell you my top reasons.
• The first of which I mentioned earlier in my introduction which is the early patient contact. With the Dundee Medical School being attached to the local hospital- Ninewells, students are allowed on wards at all times as long as permission has been sought from the nurses or doctors on the ward and the patient themselves. This is a brilliant and unique opportunity which really allows students to better their skills and more importantly receive the critical, unbiased feedback from actual patients who you will be hopefully soon treating as qualified doctors
• Another reason that makes studying at Dundee University brilliant is the huge support network that is offered both within the med school and in the university. We have our support team on hand at all times. I believe it’s important to recognise even prior to starting your medical journey that you may face some challenges along the way and having a strong support network backing you is very beneficial.
• We also a concept of medic families, so as first years you can choose to be assigned with “medic parents” and your parents will often be 2nd/3rd or BMSC (students that are taking a year out to intercalate) students. With no access to past papers in medical school, older medical students will be your best guide through early years and I am often asked how you can chat to those in senior years but it is important for me to explain that the medical school system is different to that in secondary school. There is a lot of inter-mingling between the years and joining the medical societies often offers you a more relaxed environment to meet others. Medical students of all years are happy to help and through the medic family programme it is much easier to talk to them
Cons of Studying at Dundee
In order to give you a realistic insight it is important to reflect on the other end of the spectrum on what students don’t particularly like.
• I would say it’s important to consider the fact that the medical school is attached to the hospital and is away from campus though with Dundee’s brilliant transport system there is no trouble of access. However you may soon realise that this makes it a bit isolated for medical students in the med school as you have limited interaction with people on different courses. One way to overcome this is by joining university societies as they open a huge door to meeting others and widening your university experience. You can also opt to stay in student accommodation on campus in the first year and through this I myself have made great friends on other courses and it allows you the opportunity to unwind fully.
• Dissection vs pro-section: I mentioned earlier about dissection as a form of teaching anatomy at Dundee University, I personally find it a great opportunity however it is important to consider as an applying student whether or not you feel you are better suited to dissection or pro-section teaching. An important point to consider with dissection is simply the time that it takes which is slightly longer than when learning from pro-section however I found it to be a more practical experience which allows you to stay more engaged.
3 Top Tips For Applying to Dundee
1. Applying for medical school should definitely be a strategic decision, after receiving your grades and UCAT score you should review all your choices for medical school and evaluate to see where your application can be most successful, for example Dundee has no minimum cut off for the UCAT so consider this when applying.
2. As I have mentioned before, Dundee focuses a lot on your ability to be a well-rounded doctor at the end of your 5/6 years there and so a lot of emphasis is placed on developing strong communication skills as early as first year so consider whether you as an individual would be happy to partake in early patient contact or whether you would prefer learning all the theoretical knowledge before
3. The most important piece of advice I can offer is to understand that you need to strike a balance with your medical school so you need to fulfil their requirements but also, they must offer you what you’re looking for
After you start, Dundee University has a great social life with numerous societies so make sure to get involved as medical students often forget to make time for themselves and to destress.
Thank you Sarah for providing this detailed and interesting insight into Dundee.
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