Clinical placements

Students participating in a clinical placement.

We offer placements for all of our students from Year 1 of our MBChB course. From Community Based Medicine placements based in GP surgeries, which start from your first year and continue throughout your degree, to your final year of five hospital placements, you gain a depth and variety of experience on a Birmingham Medicine degree. All your placements are designed to both test and enhance your knowledge of medicine and surgery in a clinical setting.

Being on placement is similar to being a qualified employee of the surgery, hospital or hospice you are placed in. You will be held to the same standards and expectations as current employees and will experience a true reflection of working life in a large healthcare region with a diverse population. Each placement also comes with a co-ordinator who is your key contact there in case of incident or emergency.

Birmingham Medical School currently has arrangements in place for placements at:

Frequently asked questions

Where are my placements likely to be?

Hospital settings

Birmingham is in a unique position being within easy travelling distance of 15 different hospitals that provide a wide range of speciality services. If you study medicine at Birmingham you can expect to be placed at the hospitals below. To ensure that you are treated equitably everyone will be allocated placements in all three of the groups:

Group 1: Close placements (less than 10 miles from the University)

Group 2: Middle distance placements (between 10-20 miles from the University)

Group 3: Distant placements (more than 20 miles from the University)

Community Based Medicine placements

Community Based Medicine placements utilise around 131 practices across the West Midlands where students usually attend in groups of 4 to 6. The teaching based placements involve all years of the MBChB and GEC course and you will be placed at a different GP practice each year.

Map of placements within the West Midlands

Map of placements within the West Midlands

When do placements start?

Community Based Medicine placements start in week two of year one and continue throughout the five years of the course. You have a hospital orientation day in year one and a two-day placement in year two, which is usually at the hospital you will be allocated to in year three which is when your first full-time clinical placement occurs.

How many placements should I expect in each year?

Number of placements
YearNumber of GP PlacementsNumber of hospital placementsNumber of hospice days
 Year 1  1 GP Placement 1 hospital placement   –
 Year 2  1 GP Placement 1 hospital placement   –
 Year 3  1 GP Placement 2 hospital placements   –
 Year 4  1 GP Placement 5 hospital placements   3 hospice days
 Year 5  1 GP Placement 5 hospital placements   –

How will I be supervised and assessed?

You will be allocated a Senior Academy Tutor for each of your placements in groups of 5 or 6 students but this may vary between Trusts. Regular meetings are scheduled to discuss progress and identify learning opportunities. Each hospital has a small number of Teaching Fellows who are available to help and advise you on academic issues in addition to their teaching duties. Direct supervision is undertaken by a range of junior and senior doctors and by other qualified clinicians e.g. physiotherapists, nurses, ECG technicians.

At the end of each rotation you will have a 1-2-1 appointment with your Senior Academy Tutor who will complete and submit an End of Placement Review Form to the Medical School. There are also a number of clinical skills that must be completed each year; these are practised in simulation and also by observed and clinical practice.

A similar Tutor System is in place at GP practices.

Can I change a placement?

You are not normally allowed to change or swap placements with another student.

Special provision is made for students who have special circumstances and are unable to travel to all the hospitals used for clinical placements. The College acknowledges that in some cases students may need to have particular placements due to personal circumstance or to change their placement due to illness or unforeseen circumstances.

Before the start of each academic year students who wish to request special placements are asked to complete a special placements request form (supported by evidence) for consideration by the Extenuating Circumstances Committee – Placements. Each application is graded in accordance with University guidance and students are notified of the outcome well before the start of term. Students with ongoing difficulties or known disabilities need to reapply each academic year. 

What hours will I work?

Medicine is a full-time course and you are expected to attend every day. During years one and two the majority of the teaching is delivered at the Medical School with a normal day starting at 9am and finishing at 5 or 6pm. Wednesday afternoons have traditionally been set aside for sport.

During the clinical years (3-5) you may be required to be at placement at 8.00am-8.30am dependent upon the teaching that has been organised and you are expected to be at placement between 5-6 hours each day (not including lunchtime). In the later years of the course you will be required to work a late shift or cover an evening, night or weekend shift.

How will I get to my placements?

Most of the placements, both hospital and GP, are easily accessible by public transport (bus and train) or by car. Students quite often car share. The University also benefits from its own train station on Birmingham's Cross-City Line with regular trains running to Birmingham New Street, for onward connections, every 10 minutes at peak times.

What should I expect from my placements?

We are committed to delivering the MBChB curriculum in line with learning outcomes and standards for undergraduate medical education as defined by the General Medical Council (GMC) in Outcomes for Graduates (2018).

High quality education and training is delivered by NHS Trusts, GPs and other organisations. Students who graduate from Birmingham will be professionals with all the essential knowledge, skills and attitudes to and be well equipped for life in medical practice.

Every Trust is different, so each student’s experience will vary slightly throughout the duration of the course but you will have experienced a broad range of placements. The breadth of placements each student undertakes will ensure that students will have had an equitable experience to have met all of the course requirements by the end of the course. 

How are placements allocated?

Allocations are made carefully to ensure each student experiences a broad range of placements. The breadth of placements each student undertakes will ensure that everyone has an equitable experience and is able to meet all of the course requirements by the end of the course. You should expect to be placed at a mixture of near/middle or distant hospitals and distance travelled will be monitored to ensure travel costs are equitable for all students.

What if I am ill or have an emergency?

Students who have or develop ongoing illness are fully supported to achieve their academic potential. Reasonable adjustments can be made and a leave of absence can be taken if needed. 

We understand that some students may have to deal with emergencies during their period of study and that they may need to be with their family, have obligations to fulfil or take a take day off at short notice. Our Student Services Team are able to advise and support students in these situations. 

How will I make up the hours if I am absent?

Wellbeing and academic staff will support students to ensure that they can meet the course’s learning outcomes.

Are my travel expenses paid for?

The College of Medical and Dental Sciences provides third, fourth and fifth year students with a weekly financial contribution to assist with the cost of travelling to clinical placements. Hospitals are zoned in groups and any student that is placed at a hospital 10 miles or more from the Medical School currently receives a payment of £8.46 per week and £16.92 per week for hospitals that are outside the West Midlands travel zone. Payments are made at the end of the placement. 

There is no contribution for travel to placements that are less than 10 miles from the Medical School. As the majority of students live close to the University it is used as the starting point when measuring the distance travelled to placement. The funding detailed above does not apply to GP placements during years 1 to 4.

An NHS Bursary is available for Home/EU medical students in their 5th or 6th year of study (or year 2 onwards for those on the GEC course). The NHS Bursary Scheme is run by the Department of Health and provides maintenance support and tuition fees for students on an NHS funded course such as the MBChB. Students who are in receipt of bursary funding and normally live in England are eligible to be reimbursed by the NHS Bursary Scheme for the extra cost of getting to their clinical placements. Students who receive a bursary from the NHS are not entitled to claim additional funds from the College travel scheme. The NHS Bursary website will give further details regarding eligibility and how to apply.   



With thanks to the Ron Grimley Undergraduate Centre, Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust for allowing the reproduction of the header photograph.

Lydia Wilson (5 year MBChB programme) recently completed her placement at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

Lydia Wilson

  Take a look at Lydia's placement diary