Dundee Course Structure

So, onto the next topic I promised.

Speaking first hand, the Dundee course is pretty good. For as many of the times as I’ve complained about it in the past few years, I have actually enjoyed it.

Its a mixed bag, in terms of teaching methods: traditional in that it is lecture based, but also has some tutorials (which some people would call PBL, but I don’t think thats how it’s intended to be) and ward work, as well as clinical skills sessions. Another plus is that in first year (and also in the musculoskeletal block in Year 2, Semester 2) you get to do anatomy dissection, which is a big selling point for Dundee as its the only place left in Scotland which does dissection rather than prosection (where the bodies are cut up for you already and so you only get to look at them, as opposed to feeling around and cutting them up yourself – a helpful learning aid, and also useful if you want to be a surgeon!). Although, I’ve heard mumurs that due to budget cuts etc, dissection might not be happening anymore – might be worth checking up on before you talk about how good it is that you’ll get to do dissection at an interview!

So: the course structure.

Year 1
This is split into two semesters. Semester 1 takes you to christmas and the second takes you from the new year to summer.
Semester 1
This semester is all about basic sciences, often referred to as phase 1. So, you get anatomy, physiology (how the body works normally), pathology (what happens when things go wrong), biochemistry, Pharmacology (how drugs work) and some genetics too. This is where you learn your hard science if you didn’t do biology or chemistry at advanced higher. If you did do advanced higher, then some of this stuff will be revision for you, which is useful as it gives you a bit more time for making friends! You sit exams at the end of this semester on this stuff too. Scary shiznits.

The lectures are all on campus, as is the dissection, both of which occur in the mornings so if you’re staying in halls you can almost literally roll out of bed and into the lecture theatre. In most afternoons, you’re up at ninewells doing stuff in the integrated teaching area (ITA), clinical skills (clinsky/clinical thrills), Doctors, Patients and Communities (DPaC) and also some tutorials which can be anywhere depending on your group tutor but are usually on campus. More on these things later though.

Oh, thats another thing I should talk about. At dundee, your yeargroup gets split in 16 groups. A1-4, B1-4, C1-4 and D1-4. Your individual group e.g. D1 is usually about 10 people big and these are the faces you will see day in, day out for the next 3 years. If you’re asked to do anything in a group, it’ll be with them. Also, if you do things in a bigger group, like in ITA for example, the whole of D would be timetabled, i.e. D1, 2, 3, and 4, so you do get chances to branch out a bit. Sometimes big groups get mixed together too, which is refreshing as it can get a bit claustrophobic sometimes within groups.

I should also say that like most unis, you get a wednesday afternoon off for sports, so don’t panic if you have a tendency to kick a ball around a field – you have time set aside for this!

Semester 2
Start of systems teaching.
I could list the systems they teach this semester here, but I’m scared people might try and learn them off by heart for interviews etc. which they really wouldn’t expect you to know. As long as you know the rough outline of the course, thats all you need. What I will do is describe a bit about the sessions we do, so that if you like the sound of them, you could talk about them as a selling point for why you want to go to dundee. Aren’t I nice?

The integrated teaching area. This is where they put up stuff up on boards for an hour with questions etc and let you read them and try to answer the questions. Then for the next hour they usually have a tutor go through the answers with you and clear up any outstanding issues. I think this tend to benefit people who learn best for reading/writing, which isn’t me!

Doctors, Patients and Communities is a part of the course run by GPs and so gives some insight into life as a GP. It also teaches you how to interpret stats from studies and stuff like that. Unfortunately, I think it drew the short straw in terms of teaching content, but sometimes it can be quite interest e.g. we did a module on Stress as a student which was quite useful in the lead up to exams! They also do this thing where they video you taking a history off of an actor to see how you do, and to watch your mannerisms etc which is quite funny – right up until its time to watch your video anyway!

Clinical Skills Centre is where you learn ‘how to be a doctor’ – you learn how to take a history and practice doing that here, you also learn how to examine patients, take blood, put in venflons amongst many other things. Dundee has a sim-man which they can programme to do different things in real time depending on what you do, which is quite fun too.

Also, I should say that dundee has just updated its ward simulation area, and I can say from personal experience that it is top class. In fact, it’s the nicest ward in Ninewells. No joke. The reason they got the warrant to do it all is because of the recent flu pandemic and so if there is ever the need for an overflow ward in Ninewells, then the ward simulation area will be it – this means that its fully functional as a ward, with working oxygen and suction ports by each bed. So, instead of stating “I am now giving the patient oxygen!” and handing them a mask, you have to actually plug the port into the wall, set the right oxygen flow setting and help the patient put on the mask etc. So, it’s much more lifelike than any other ward simulation area I’ve seen, which is great.

Ward teaching
In year 1, you get given a parent ward (mine was ward 12 which is the Vascular surgery ward) and once (for 2 hours) a week get a session there with a consultant who usually lets you take a history and exam a patient. Sometimes it’s relevant to the system you’re being taught at the time, other times its not, but the practice at history taking and just getting to meet patients is important. These are usually the best sessions of the week, in my opinion.

Year 2
Semester 1 and 2 – more systems teaching, again with ITA, clinical skills, ward teaching and DPaC

Year 3
Semester 1 and 2 – More systems teaching

(Intercalated year – I’m doing mine on Anatomy which you do with the Forensic Anthropologists at Dundee under the supervision of the infamous Sue Black – check out cold case and you’ll probably see her. Other choices are Forensic Pathology, Sports Biomedicine, Genetics, Teaching in medicine, International Health, Assisted Reproduction (IVF and whatnot))

Year 4
Ward teaching
This is again split into blocks, but this really isn’t important. I’m still not entirely sure what each block consists of, and my girlfriend is starting 4th year in 2 weeks. Ha! Anyway, you’re on the wards all day every day learning stuff, observing stuff and sometimes doing stuff e.g. taking blood, putting in venflons. Also, you sit your finals at the end of 4th year. Very scary.

Elective – This is where you can go abroad for (at least) 6 weeks to do some medical training. Some places, you get to observe things much like you do in 4th and 5th year. Other places you can get days off at a time to go travel. Other places (e.g. africa) i’ve heard stories that you end up delivering (and sometimes resusciitating!) newly born babies in corridors. Quite daunting stuff!

Year 5
Ward teaching
Touching up your skills before actually becoming a doctor on the wards. At the end of the year you sit a VIVA on a bunch of patient cases you’ve accumulated over your time at uni, although I think this is kind of on the way out. We’ll see.

Anyway, you don’t need to remember any of that stuff – it was just an overview to let you know what it’s like. All you really need to know for interviews is:
Phase 1 = Basic science = Year 1, Semester 1
Phase 2 = Systems teaching = Year 1, Semester 2 – End of year 3
Phase 3 = Ward based = Year 4, Year 5

Some links which might be useful:
Dundee Medicine Homepage
Dundee Uni Prospectus Page

Also, this video’s pretty cool – there’s a bunch of tutors you’ll get to know in it. Also, the place that they’re doing the interview with the doctor looking all suave with his stethoscope around his neck is the new ward simulation place in clinical skills i was telling you about.
In order of appearance – Iain Parkin (the guy shaking his hand), Peter Davey (they guy having a huge laugh), the girl and guy who are walking into the GP practice are students I know from the medical education society and just completed an intercalated year in medical education, and the girl talking to the patient with an O2 mask is a girl in my year! And, the place it shows you called tonic is a great burger bar. The surf and turf is amazing, which I had on my birthday the first day I went to dundee as a student. Their nachos are good too. Right, I’m having too much fun with this video. I’m going to watch the rest of them to see who else I know. Hope this has helped!

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