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Interview with Cathy Jackson, Head of UCLan's Medical School

Cathy Jackson tells us about the University of Central Lancashire's new medical programme for international students


Tell us about UCLan’s new MBBS programme for international students


The new medical school at UCLan is a very exciting initiative. It’s been set up to provide some linkage between all the other biomedical schools we have here at UCLan already and also to recognise that there is a need to provide UK high standard medical education for students from overseas.


It is different from other UK medical schools, our medical school is only open to international non-EU students and that’s a good thing because if you are an international student you have more opportunity, more possibility to join the course. Unlike other medical schools in the UK who have only 7.5 % of places that they are able to offer to international students, UCLan and its medical school is able to offer 100% of all its places to international medical students.


That said, we aim to stay a small medical school, we think it’s very important that the quality of education that you get here at UCLan is the highest possible quality you can receive. So we aim to provide the best possible medical education that’s available, and we have phenomenal state of the art facilities to do that.

What do you look for in a prospective MBBS student?


We’re looking for really high calibre students. The qualifications that you need are published on our website each year, they are different for every country so I would advise potential students to visit our website.

Academic qualifications are one thing but what we’re also looking for is students who are going to make good doctors. So we want to know that you know something about what it is like to be a doctor, because entering on a five year course is a big commitment so ideally you would have some work shadowing, you would spend some time with some doctors to see what they do.

If you aren’t able to get that kind of experience we would ask that you do some volunteering experience, that you spend some time with people, so that you at least know what it’s like to be with people in underprivileged groups. So you might work in a rest home, or with the elderly, or with handicapped children, or you might join a youth club, anything like that.


We are extremely fortunate here at UCLan we have managed to gather a team that have come from a wide range of backgrounds. I myself have come to UCLan from St Andrew’s University, we have staff who have come from Imperial, Sheffield, from all kinds of other universities here in the UK. So we’re drawing on a wide breadth of experience in terms of teaching students, in terms of research, in terms of teaching medical students and developing courses.


We also have existing staff here at the university who have large experience of teaching health professionals. Together we form a fantastic team and the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom said they were impressed with our team and have mentioned the enthusiasm of our team in their report. So I’m happy to be working with the team and I know that together we can produce a really good course and experience for our students.


What work experience will students gain on the course?


Here at UCLan Medical School, we are very fortunate in that we have a number of NHS (National Health Service) partners, so students on our course will spend time in some of the busiest hospitals in the UK. They will have a wide experience of clinical practice in the UK and that will start in the first term of year one. They will go out to clinical settings initially in primary care in years one and two and then in years three, four and five, they will be spending the majority of their time learning and experiencing hospital care.


You will get a wide experience of hospital and primary care practice here at UCLan, you will have no shortage of opportunities to see and examine patients, to watch procedures, to watch operations – you’re going to be very busy! You will be limited, only by how many opportunities you choose to take up.


What support is there for international students at UCLan?


Here at UCLan we have won prizes for the way that our international students are looked after. We have an international week just to help the international students settle in. We have international societies, whichever country you may come from, you will probably find students here from the same country. We have vast numbers of international students and we have a great melting pot of countries here at UCLan.


Here at the Medical school, because it’s a wholly international programme, we have a lead who looks after the international requirements of our students. We also have pastoral support, so we have one lead who is just looking after your needs. He will have no part to play in whether you get a good mark or a bad mark, or whether you progress from one year to the next. He’s just there to look after you, your concerns and how they can be met.


The students themselves will also help. You’ll find within a week or two of settling into the community at UCLan, the students who have been here before and know the pathway will help you every step of the way. It’s a very family, friendly community here at UCLan and international students play a very large part in that.


What job opportunities are available for MBBS graduates?

Any graduate in medicine has lots of opportunities. Having graduated in the UK, with a GMC-registered degree opens windows to all kinds of opportunities throughout the world. You can become a doctor in just about any speciality you choose to, providing of course you work hard. We give you taster sessions in a lot of different career options and run a series called “a day in the life of”. This will give the opportunity to see what it’s like to be an anaesthetist, a surgeon, a physician or a radiologist.


We also give you a large period of time between fourth year and fifth year when you get an opportunity to try it out. You have an elective period when you can decide what you want to do and where you want to do it. You might decide you want to try out surgery in your own country and we can help to arrange that.


If you decide that medicine isn’t what your want to pursue a career in, an MBBS degree is also a passport to doing many other things. You may decide that you want to do a further degree, a masters in medicine for business, a medical leadership, journalism, or go into the pharmaceutical industry and use it in that way. With a UK MBBS degree, there will be no shortage of opportunities for a successful career.


To watch the full video interview with Prof Cathy Jackson, click here

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About Author

Katie Duncan is Editor of Hotcourses Abroad and is an NCTJ-qualified journalist and University of Exeter graduate. Having worked at an English language school in the UK, as an educational consultant in Spain and as a reporter in the international education sector, she is well placed to guide you through your study abroad journey. Katie grew up in Australia, which perhaps explains her unusual reptile collection, comprising of a bearded dragon (Bill) and tortoise (Matilda).


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