The Birmingham Medicine and Surgery course is an integrated modular based programme designed to give you the essential knowledge and background to begin to work towards your own career goals.
Outcome of the course
Postgraduate foundation training and beyond
At the end of the undergraduate programme you will receive your MBBS (or equivalent) degree, which is a primary medical qualification (PMQ). Holding a PMQ entitles you to provisional registration with the General Medical Council, subject only to its acceptance that there are no Fitness to Practise concerns that need consideration. Provisional registration is time limited to a maximum of three years and 30 days (1125 days in total). After this time period your provisional registration will normally expire.
Provisionally registered doctors can only practise in approved Foundation Year 1 posts: the law does not allow provisionally registered doctors to undertake any other type of work. To obtain a Foundation Year 1 post you will need to apply during the final year of your undergraduate programme through the UK Foundation Programme Office selection scheme, which allocates these posts to graduates on a competitive basis. All suitably qualified UK graduates have found a place on the Foundation Year 1 programme, but this cannot be guaranteed, for instance if there were to be an increased number of competitive applications from non-UK graduates.
Successful completion of the Foundation Year 1 programme is normally achieved within 12 months and is marked by the award of a Certificate of Experience. You will then be eligible to apply for full registration with the General Medical Council. You need full registration with a licence to practise for unsupervised medical practice in the NHS or private practice in the UK.
Although this information is currently correct, students need to be aware that regulations in this area may change from time to time.
There is some discussion about whether to remove provisional registration for newly qualified doctors. If this happens then UK graduates will receive full registration as soon as they have successfully completed an MBBS (or equivalent) degree. It should be noted that it is very likely that UK graduates will still need to apply for a training programme similar to the current Foundation Programme and that places on this programme may not be guaranteed for every UK graduate.
The GMC is currently considering the introduction of a formal assessment that UK medical graduates would need to pass in order to be granted registration with a licence to practise. Although no final decision has been taken as to whether or when such an exam will be introduced applicants should be aware that the GMC envisages that future cohorts of medical students may need to pass parts of a medical licensing assessment before the GMC will grant them registration with a licence to practise.
First and second years
Your first two years are largely taken up with modules on the structure and function of the human body. You will learn how each system is controlled and is able to respond to the demands of everyday life and how they are affected by disease and medical treatments. Much of the anatomy is learned in small-group sessions, including substantial experience of prosection.
You will learn about the psychology and sociology of health and illness and how the health of whole populations, as well as of individual patients, is assessed. You will also be introduced to some of the key issues in biomedical ethics, for example genetic engineering.
In each year, you will spend ten days in the community with GPs and patients, linking biological and behavioural theoretical learning to clinical situations with real patients. Plus, you will have the opportunity to select areas of study for yourself so that you can pursue topics that interest you.
You will be based in our partner Teaching Hospital Trusts to further develop your basic clinical skills in taking a good clinical history and examining patients, as well as studying the communication skills needed for effective patient-doctor relations. You'll also learn about common diseases and how to diagnose and manage them, and continue your theoretical work on pathology, pharmacology, public health and epidemiology. Our excellent Community-Based Medicine strand continues and you will increase your understanding of how patients are managed in General Practice.
Fourth and fifth years
You will now move onto clinical attachments in medical, surgical and other specialities such as Cardiology, Neurology, Psychiatry, Bone and Joint Disease, Oncology, Ear, Nose and Throat and Peri-Operative Care. You will also do further attachments in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Paediatrics and General Practice. During the Final year, you will be able to bring all of your learning and skills together through the Acutely Ill Patient attachment, as you prepare to become a medical practitioner.
Elective studies: Two months in the spring of the fourth year are allotted to full-time studies of your own choice, either in a department of the Medical School or at another centre in Britain or, as the majority of students choose to do, abroad. You may choose to consolidate your knowledge in a subject you’ve already studied, gain further experience of clinical practice or perhaps undertake your own clinical research project.
These are a selection of the various locations that our students have visited as part of their electives.
Training in Research
As a doctor you will be expected to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in medicine but we need clinicians to take a lead role in bringing these about. This course gives you the opportunity to learn research skills that you can use in your career to enhance and develop clinical practice. You can develop these skills in substantial depth during an intercalated programme.
If you attain a good standard in examinations you may wish to take advantage of the excellent breadth of internationally competitive research within the Medical School through an in-depth study of chosen topics for one year. Several different intercalating programmes provide the opportunity for engaging in novel research work in either basic or applied medical research. This can happen after your second, third or fourth year of study. Programmes available involve either laboratory- or community-based research. You will learn to analyse and interpret medical research data and, importantly, undertake your own novel and substantial research project. The skills that you will acquire will allow you to contribute to the development of evidence-based clinical practice. You then return to complete the MBChB programme.
View information about the intercalating programmes.
Preparing to Apply for Medicine
When we are deciding whom to invite for interview, academic excellence is not our only criterion. Therefore it is important for you to demonstrate your motivation towards a career in medicine and are able to show evidence that you will be able to acquire the values of the NHS (including: working together for patients; respect and dignity; compassion; commitment to quality of care; resilience), through people-focused work experience or volunteering.
It is essential that you provide evidence of an understanding of working in a healthcare environment and an on-going commitment to medicine. For UK nationals and for international applicants living or studying in the UK for more than one year this evidence will relate to the National Health Service (NHS). The types of experience that we value include voluntary work in a nursing home, care home, hospice or hospital volunteer. We do not rank applications on the amount of experience that has been obtained, though we do expect that the time spent is stated. We are more likely to be reassured of your commitment if you offer a combination of around two full weeks of experiences. We will consider the difficulties in obtaining healthcare experience if these are stated. Shadowing of doctors is not required and, though it has its benefits, we prefer active involvement in a healthcare setting
We recognise that extracurricular activity in areas outside of healthcare can supplement the development of the broader qualities required of a potential doctor. Therefore, you must offer significant and substantial involvement. We especially appreciate non-academic experiences that take place outside of school (such as a job in a customer-focused role). A voluntary role giving you responsibility for a group of individuals is also valued (such as a leader for one of the youth organisations like the scouts or guides or a sports coaching role). In general, relevant activities should have commenced at least one year before application, be on-going and involve significant interactions with a broad range of people in a responsible capacity.
We will consider all of these non-academic aspects as described in the personal statement and take account of your total involvement. Thus, for example, we will be concerned if there is little evidence of the use of relevant skills (leadership, effective team-working, problem-solving, coping with significant responsibility) even if there is a great deal of evidence of attending healthcare placements.
The Medical Schools Council has produced guidance on work experience and the development of attitudes and behaviours: http://www.medschools.ac.uk/Publications/Pages/Work-experience-guidelines-for-applicants-to-medicine.aspx
If invited for interview, candidates may be asked to provide details of their work experience placements.
Preparation for interview and indeed for study on a medicine programme is aided by engaging in frequent discussions with friends and family about medical issues appearing in the news and media. You should also use your time on work experience effectively by gaining insight into the demands placed on staff, the problems they encounter and the strategies that they employ to handle difficult situations as well as the benefits they obtain from caring for people and working in teams. Again, opportunities to engage in discussion of these issues must be taken.
Core Values and Attributes
The Medical Schools Council has produced a statement on the core values and attributes needed to study medicine: http://www.medschools.ac.uk/Publications/Pages/Statement-on-the-core-values-and-attributes-needed-to-study-medicine.aspx
Some of these are assessed in the mechanisms used to identify applicants for interview (described below). Our interview process will address many more of these, including: self-insight, reflection, problem-solving, dealing with uncertainty, communication, teamwork, resilience, empathy and honesty. In common with all organisations selecting people to work in the NHS, our recruitment is values-based.
The Medical Schools Council Selecting for Excellence report (http://www.medschools.ac.uk/AboutUs/Projects/Widening-Participation/Selecting-for-Excellence/Pages/Selecting-for-Excellence.aspx) identified the need for Medical Schools to introduce and enhance schemes to improve social mobility into the medical profession. In fact, two activities run by the University of Birmingham and aimed at addressing this issue are featured in this report as examples of good practice. We recruit medicine students via the following programmes (the first two are for students from the Greater West Midlands area):
From those who apply, approximately 1000 candidates are invited to attend for interview. This selection is based on the information provided on the UCAS application as well as results from UKCAT. The mechanism we will use for selection is described below. Interviews take place between November and March.
Interviews are organised in a multiple mini-interview format. You will participate in six separate, short interviews, lasting 6 minutes each. There will be an additional interview station at which you will be asked to undertake some basic calculations but no interviewer will be present while you complete this task. The format allows you to start afresh at each mini-interview. A range of your personal attributes relevant to studying medicine will be assessed by means of different tasks. Interview stations are designed to assess aspects such as: motivation for medicine; communication; self-insight; ethical reasoning; data interpretation; ability to evaluate information and identify relevant aspects.
To find out more about each stage of the interview process, download our MBChB interview information document.
Outcome of Interview
We make offers based, mostly, on your interview performance:
- The scores from each interview station are used to calculate an overall interview score (the arithmetic mean, which is converted to a percentage), which is used to rank all applicants.
- We expect to make about 650 offers and these applicants will be identified, initially, according to the rank order of the overall interview score.
- If your interview score is within 5% of the cut-off score, we will review your Band score for the Situational Judgement Test (SJT) component of the UKCAT. You will receive an offer if you achieve a Band score above 4 (minimum) as well as an interview score above the cut-off.
- It is likely that we will continue to set a minimum performance standard for each station (which is well below the threshold overall interview score for receiving an offer). An applicant who does not reach this standard for one station and who achieves a SJT Band score of 4 may not receive an offer irrespective of the overall interview score.
- If you achieve an overall interview score 5% or more above the cut-off and no station score below the minimum, we will not consider your UKCAT SJT Banding.
- We will not look again at your academic information in making the decision unless absolutely necessary (e.g. if there are a number of applicants on the same interview score).
Please note that there is no advantage to attending an interview early. We will analyse the interview scores soon after the first set of interviews in the autumn term. Applicants with a mean score in the top 50% (approximately) will receive an offer. Those with mean scores in the bottom 20% (approximately) will be advised that their applications are unsuccessful. The remainder of the interview candidates will be informed of our decision in mid to late March following analysis of all interview data when the precise threshold overall score can be defined.
Visiting the Medical School
Candidates who are interviewed are offered a conducted tour of the Medical School by current medical students. If you can, it is a good idea to visit the University prior to application on one of the University Open Days held each June, September and October. Details are given in the University prospectus. Please note that we can not make arrangements to meet with prospective applicants on an individual basis.
Review of Admissions Decisions
If you wish to question the decision that has been made, please refer to Section 6 of the Code of Practice for Admission of Students to the University of Birmingham.