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Behind the Scrubs, Part 2: Student’s views of Undergraduate Medical Courses in NSW – Joint Medical Program, University of Newcastle

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The University of Newcastle (UoN) has taken a unique teamwork approach within their Bachelor of Medicine course, collaborating with the University of New England to create the Joint Medical Program.
Although this joint effort represents a new modelling of the course, UoN has offered an undergraduate Medicine course for almost forty years, and has gained an unofficial reputation for creating doctors with superior clinical skills. Their use of ‘Problem-Based Learning’ to train students to think critically and integrate concepts has been extensively harnessed by other medical schools.
In this article, 4th year medical student Emma gives us further insight into the course.


Evie: You’ll be finishing Medicine at UoN at the end of next year - could you give us a brief outline of how these years of study are spent?

Emma: The Bachelor of Medicine course is a 5-year program. The first three years are mainly University-based and focus on commonly encountered issues in General Practice. The course incorporates clinical time right from the beginning, particularly during the big blocks of GP placement in Year 3!
Being a Joint Program, a small number of the year group studies at the University of New England in Armidale over the first three years.
Years 4 and 5 are entirely clinical, with all teaching occurring at our chosen hospital and each semester focussing on different specialties. We can either choose to study in an urban environment in Newcastle or Gosford, or in a rural school in Armidale, Tamworth, or Taree.

Evie: That must have been quite a change from the school environment! Did you find there were any particularly helpful year 12 subjects to prepare you for your first year of Medicine?

Emma: I didn’t do Biology in Year 12, but though that meant a bit of extra reading in the first few weeks, it wasn’t too much of a disadvantage. What I did find extremely helpful was Chemistry - we move pretty fast through biochemistry, so the concepts would have been a lot harder if I didn’t already have a basic level of knowledge from HSC Chemistry!

Evie: That must seem like quite a while ago now! Is there any insight you could give to those who’ll soon be going through the UoN admission interviews?

Emma: I’d say the thing to remember is that it’s more your thought process and logic that they’re looking at during the stations, rather than any particular opinions. And your ability to cope with pressure, of course! But as they rotate you through 8 or 10 minute stations, you do have a good chance to show off your best side.

Evie: Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us, Emma!

If you’d like to find out more about the University of Newcastle’s Medical course, check out their official website, at https://www.newcastle.edu.au/joint-medical-program.

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