Shadowing a DoctorJanuary 10, 2012
The medical school at Bart’s & the London is steeped in an almost ridiculous amount of history! It was formed by a convergence of not only what exists today as the oldest hospital in the world – St. Bartholomew’s – but also the oldest medical school – the London Hospital Medical College. The main campus is based in Whitechapel – just next to the place where Fleming discovered penicillin, and behind the Royal London Hospital. This incredible building resembles an image you may have had in your mind’s eye when reading about workhouses in Charles Dickens books as a kid, only it actually extends back far further than the Victorian era, beyond the days of Jack the Ripper – who once terrorised this area – and Joseph Merrick – aka the Elephant Man – who spent his final years here and whose skeleton remains on show in the medical school museum. Yes, more history than you could shake a stick at…
But behind all this history lies a very modern medical school. During your first couple of years you will spend a large amount of time in-and-around the Blizzard Building – a large, futuristic complex which has won a number of design awards, and which houses a fair proportion of the research done in the university. Work on cancer, stems cells, preventive medicine and public health in recent years, among other things, has given the school a reputation as one of the top 4 for research in the UK.
At the same time, a huge amount of money – over £1 billion – is being ploughed into the redevelopment of the Royal London, turning it into a huge centre for trauma and emergency care, renal and paediatric medicine. Students and staff of the school have been eagerly anticipating these new changes as the new buildings continue to grow, now towering over the helipad on top of the old building, which is home to HEMS – London’s air ambulance. And on top of all this there is also a great deal of investment going into Bart’s Hospital itself; already famed for its oncology prowess, it has also been selected to become a new centre of cardiac excellence.
The future certainly looks bright for students of Bart’s and the London, and also Queen Mary’s University – to which it is affiliated. The modern “spiral” curriculum which has been in operation for the last couple of years is already showing some good results, with strands of problem-based learning and a focus on clinical skills and early patient contact woven in alongside traditional teaching methods such as lectures and symposia. And for the clinical years you couldn’t wish for a greater education than you will receive on the wards of the hospitals that come under the Bart’s and the London training wing, including – of course – the Royal London itself, which serves arguably the most ethnic diverse community found anywhere in the world, with the various associated health problems that this brings.
Bart’s medical student intake is just over 300 annually for its 5 year MBBS course, split pretty much equally between graduates and school-leavers. They also offer a 4 year graduate-entry programme (the GEP course). Interviews are awarded on the strength of previous academic performance, UKCAT score and your UCAS application. Interviews are conducted in front of a panel of three people, including a student from the upper years.