Durham University School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health was founded in 2001 as a partner with the Newcastle University Medical School to educate medical students in the first phase of their medical education (Years 1 and 2).
The School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health is located on the Queen’s Campus of the University of Durham, with students being members of one of the two colleges on this campus – John Snow and George Stephenson College.
The yearly intake quota for medical students at Durham is 102, 95 home student places and 7 Overseas places.
The current conditional offer given to a student taking A-Level examinations is AAA, to include Biology and/or Chemistry at A-Level, and whichever may be missing at AS-Level. Since October 2007 entrants must take the UKCAT prior to applying, an exam aimed at facilitating choosing between similarly high-achieving applicants, akin to the BMAT.
As with all UK medical students, successful applicants must have proof of immunity or non-infectivity against Hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Polio, Rubella, Tetanus, Varicella and Tuberculosis. Without complete immunisation, offers may be withdrawn.
At Durham, students have the traditional medical sciences taught alongside their clinical relevance. For example, just before learning the physiology of the lungs, a case was presented about a girl admitted to an Accident and Emergency department with shortness of breath and other symptoms of asthma. Once the topic has been taught, a “case round-up session” is held, where formative questions are asked, some with more clinical relevance.
The curriculum also means that while, for example, learning the physiology of the lungs, their anatomy and embryological development are also taught by other departments (anatomy and embryology respectively).
The curriculum is broadly taught in the following strands, with some departments spanning many, for example, anatomy and embryology:
- Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Renal Medicine (CVRR)
- Medicine in the Community (MiC)
- Personal and Professional Development (PPD)
- Life Cycle (LC)
- Foundation Case (CF)
- Clinical Sciences and Investigative Medicine (CSIM)
- Thoughts, Senses and Movements (TSM) (Formerly known as Neurological and Skeletomotor Systems)
- Nutrition, Metabolism and Endocrinology (NME)
- Student Selected Component (SSC)
The Foundation Case is only taught in the first three weeks of the course in the first year, and its aim is to integrate the fundamental parts of preclinical medicine. During this time, a sufferer of the disease studied, cystic fibrosis (hence the abbreviation CF), pays a visit to the medical school and students pose questions of the disease’s impact on the individual and the family.
This integrated curriculum also has implications for the students, in that they have very early patient contact, some within weeks, in the form of the Family Project, where students follow a pregnant woman through her pregnancy and into the first few months of life of the newborn in groups of two or three, and also in the form of hospital visits.
APS Hungin OBE is the Dean of Medicine & Head of the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, and JC McLachlan the Academic Director.
Each strand of the course has a strand leader, and many of those that lecture to the undergraduates are either not from the School for Health (generally Biological and Biomedical Sciences or Anthropology, both of whose courses span both campuses) or are from outside the University (e.g. clinical lecturers are practising clinicians in NHS hospitals).
Progression from Durham
After completing the two-year preclinical course at Queen’s Campus, the vast majority of students join their University of Newcastle contemporaries in one of four base units in the North East of England for their clinical teaching:
Students have the chance to assign preferences for stage 3 (phase 2) base units, with Newcastle University providing randomization and assignment based on student preference, and their place in the generated list. Options are provided to swap assigned base units with another student of the same stage if both parties are willing. It is not possible to go to the same base unit for stage 3 and stage 5 unless a case is presented to Newcastle medical school for this requirement.
There is the opportunity to intercalate a BSc after the second year, be it at the University of Durham or the University of Newcastle. The possibility also exists after the 4th year to complete a master’s degree at Newcastle University, or, if permission is given by Newcastle University, at an external institution.
After successful completion of Phase 2 (Years 3-5), the University of Newcastle confers the degrees MB BS (Medicinæ Baccalaureus and Bachelor of Surgery) upon students
UDQC (University of Durham Queen’s Campus) Medsoc (Medical Society) plays an integral role in the lives of students on Queen’s Campus, organising nights out to Durham and Newcastle, but also raising money for charities like Marrow UK. It also has many sports teams, which, despite the small size of the medical school (both in terms of numbers of years and yearly intake) are on par with many, much larger, medical schools.
MedSoc also produces an alternative welcome pack for 1st years before they arrive in October, which also gives a student’s perspective of the recommended texts.