Michelle Kwok, TCD
I decided to study in Trinity College Dublin as the school has a rich history and is recognised by the Singapore Medical Council. Its location in the city centre was one of the contributing factors since I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of city life. The people of Ireland are extremely welcoming and friendly, and the country has breathtaking coastal hikes. I particularly enjoyed that Trinity factored in 3 years of clinical exposure, which is more than the other schools. The 4th year was especially structured covering OBGYN, Paediatrics, Psychiatry and GP. The emphasis on self-directed learning prepares us continued learning in the future as we progress as physicians. Although moving to a new country initially was difficult, IUMC allowed me to get to know other like-minded individuals in Singapore before leaving for Ireland. This made the move to Ireland a less intimidating experience.
Jonathan Loke, TCD
Hello! My name is Jonathan Loke, I am a final year currently studying in Trinity College! I first decided to study in Ireland as I knew friends who were applying to Ireland so they were quite familiar with the whole application process and I also knew seniors who were already studying Medicine in Ireland and had really good experiences studying there. In retrospect, I am truly glad that I did! I really enjoy the pace of life in Dublin, as well as the accessibility of everything. Dublin is a very vibrant city, with new cafes and restaurants popping up every other week. The people in Dublin, especially the patients in the hospitals are always friendly and willing to help or just chat. I found this especially helpful in Medicine, where communication forms such a big part in trying to take a proper medical history. Trinity also has a well structured curriculum with early clinical experience, which I found was particularly beneficial in slowly learning to be comfortable speaking to patients and improving my soft skills. The first two years are the pre-clinical years and generally more content focused with modules such as anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, microbiology and immunology. I also found it helpful that there were sessions in the laboratory as well as the dissection theatre to supplement the content being taught in lectures. Besides school life, studying in Ireland has offered me the unique ability to travel around country and explore various nature reserves, cliffs, waterfalls and mountains. I found weekend hiking trips or cycling expeditions to different towns particularly beneficial as a form of exercise as well as stress relief. All in all, I think that studying here in Ireland is definitely a once in a lifetime experience and a one that I will greatly treasure for a long time to come.
Ireland, a country with vibrant cities and beautiful sceneries, as well as warming and welcoming people is the reason I chose to study in Ireland.
I truly enjoyed my time here studying and living in Ireland. In Trinity College Dublin, there is a good balance of international students which makes a friendly community. Everyone is extremely friendly and welcoming and we learn about different backgrounds and cultures.
Besides, studying abroad will help you grow as a person. I learnt to become more independent by learning how to take good care of ourselves. We also learnt to adapt to new situations and become more resilient by taking on challenges and gaining life experiences from them.
The curriculum is well structured and it allows students to build knowledge gradually with a good foundation. The first two years of medical school are pre-clinical years which consists of lectures, small-group tutorials and problem-based learning. With small group learning, we not only get to know our classmates better, but we also learnt to develop better communication skills, teamwork and problem-solving skills which are key qualities to our personal development and career. In clinical years, the school ensures that students have adequate exposure to the clinical placement. This allows us to experience the healthcare system and the importance of delivering holistic care to patients.
Ireland is known for its natural beauty. From the Cliff of Moher and the Giant’s Causeway to the Ring of Kerry and the Aran Islands, there are plenty of beautiful landscapes to explore that are perfect for weekend getaways when we need a break from studying.
IUMC has always been very helpful to students, from guiding us through the application process to making sure we settle into the new country smoothly. They are very approachable and offers good support to us throughout our medical school journey.
Ireland is a beautiful country and needs no introduction for its friendly people and beautiful sceneries. The atmosphere and people in Dublin are lovely. There are many attractions nearby if you are up for a coastal walk or craving crispy fish and chips.
Trinity College Dublin is a world-class university with an excellent education and support system. The campus equipped with many facilities, and the daily necessities are within reach in the surrounding by walking distance.
The course curriculum is well structured, and the first year studying at Trinity College was the perfect transition to university. The university arranged helpful guidance such as S2S mentoring and extra classes to aid the transition process. Second-year incorporates a heavier content, but it builds an extra depth on the knowledge we gained in the first year. The preclinical years provide us with appropriate knowledge to prepare us for the clinical years in the hospital. In the third year, we spend time rotating between different specialities in hospitals under the guidance of doctors. During our clinical rotations, there is a lot of clinical teaching that is very practical and provides a deeper understanding to supplement the lectures.
IUMC has been tremendously helpful in guiding and facilitating my application process to Trinity College. Before leaving, they organised a pre-departure event with existing trinity students to brief us on the upcoming life in Dublin. I found it helpful knowing what to expect in college and Ireland, along with their experiences and tips.
My experience studying in Ireland has been incredible, and I recommend it to everyone considering studying abroad.
COVID-19 adaptations and how your university helped you excel through it
The Health Service Executive (HSE), which is the equivalent to the Ministry of Health, had indicated clinical students as frontline workers, which meant we could continue with placements regardless of the level of restrictions. What this also meant was that clinical students were given the privilege of being the first few in the country to receive COVID vaccines, too! – quoted from Fara’s document
As for clinical students at TCD,
Clubs and Societies
In every Irish university, there are more than 100 societies ranging from arts, culture, politics and debating to gaming, advocacy and music and 50 sports clubs in a range of disciplines, you’re sure to find something that interests you. You could always try a new sports, start a new hobby!
For a medical student, the must join club would be the BioSoc society in TCD. It is one of the largest and oldest in Ireland, having been established in 1874. Head on over to https://tcdbiosoc.com/ to find out more and make sure to check out their year guides for some useful tips on how to tackle each year of medical school. They also hold a yearly book sale where you can get your textbooks for dirt cheap prices, so watch out for that especially if you are a new incoming student.
If you are from south east asia (or even if you are not), another must join is the Dublin University South East Asian Society (DUSEAS) in TCD, the Malaysian Society (MSoc) in UCD, and the South East Asian Society (SEASoc) in UCC. They organise loads of events to commemorate important events for SEAs, you’re guaranteed to be reminded of home.
To join these clubs, look out for Freshers’ Week, which is when tents and booths will be set
up in every main campus in the first few weeks of each semester (or online if COVID restrictions are still practiced).
Placements and Hospitals
In TCD, we have three years of clinical experience which is more than some other universities in Ireland. This allows us to have more time to hone our clinical skills.
In Year 3 and Year 5, we are assigned to medical or surgical rotations. This is mostly done in St James’ Hospital (SJH) or Tallaght University Hospital (TUH). Other sites include Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital (RVEEH), Naas General Hospital, Blackrock Hospital, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Hermitage Medical Clinic.
In Year 3:
In Year 5:
In Year 4, we focus solely on Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Psychiatry and General Practice with about 7 to 8 weeks of each and an examination at the end of the 8 weeks as well as a final exam in each subject at the end of the academic year.
These are the research projects that is part of the curriculum but you can always engage in other research projects. Head over to Seng Lim’s post for information.
Hello! I am Wen Yan and I have recently graduated from UCC. Let me show you around and share my experiences studying in UCC. The school of medicine of University College Cork has a supportive learning environment which has helped me grow into a holistic medical graduate who is ready to work as a doctor. This is my story throughout my five years in UCC.
Applying through IUMC was a breeze. I handled the application process and sorted the accommodations and registration all by myself.
Settling into Ireland was no hassle at all. My transition into university life was as smooth as it can be with IUMC helping me book my first-year accommodations months before arriving in Cork. I was living in Castlewhite apartments, and that put me 5 minutes away from Western Gateway Building and 10 minutes away from Brookfield Health Science Complex which was where we had all our classes. The Mardyke Sports Arena is also 5 minutes away (we students get free membership to access all their facilities including the gym, swimming pool, climbing wall, and many fitness classes.
Fun fact: The skull and crossbones is the official sporting logo for all UCC Clubs. I have always found it cool that my colleagues compete with the logo. UCC Radiology uses the same logo fittingly to reflect their profession!
The orientation was a well-planned process with many activities prepared to make us feel welcomed. The first week of classes gave us all the information we need to start our journey into medicine, introducing us to the concept and guiding us through the integrated systems-based curriculum in UCC.
Medicine is a subject that covers many disciplines and fields. The integrated curriculum aims to make it easier for us students to grasp the many complicated processes. With each system, we learn the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, which we will then associate with the diseases that we would encounter later in our careers. I found this to be an easier process than to study each subject individually. It made it easier for me to connect the dots.
We have access to world-class facilities in UCC to help enhance our learning. The UCC Flame Laboratory, for example, is a state-of-the-art anatomy laboratory which I have had classes in for twice a week, every week for most of my pre-clinical education. We are taught with experienced instructors teaching with prosections (specially designed and dissected cadavers for the teaching of anatomy). The cadavers were my first patients which I had the privilege to learn from.
UCC offers a list of special studies modules during year 1 – 3 to give us an option to explore something else that is not part of the main curriculum. I designed and created a prosection under the guidance of UCC Flame Laboratory when I was in third year. You might see it in your first-year teachings if you are here!
Mixed in between the medical sciences, we receive some clinical teaching early in our education. That means we learn how to interact with patients and perform our duties as a clinician. In year 1, we learnt from experienced volunteers who act as fantastic, simulated patients. This early patient contact, albeit simulated, helped me step out of my comfort zone in a safe environment and build confidence.
In year 2, I was assigned to a monthly visit to a general practice to learn from patients. On the other hand, we were given the privilege to visit patients living with chronic diseases at their home to interview them. As an international student, these early experiences helped me prepare for my transition into clinical learning, especially in terms of communication skills with doctors and patients.
The first leap in medical school is the start when we are confronted with the wealth of knowledge that we must learn. The second leap is in year 3 when we have to put the knowledge into practice. Learning moves from lecture halls to hospitals and clinics. It was a turbulent and chaotic for medical students everywhere, but I felt it was less so for me. It was demanding at first, but UCC does a good job of slowly introducing clinical learning to us. Learning objectives are always clear, and the expectations for me as a student was always fair.
UCC is the institution covering the south-southwest hospital group. This means that students have the opportunity to learn in 10 hospitals in the south of Ireland. There are also many general practice clinics that are affiliated with UCC for us to do our attachments in. UCC does best in making our education a smooth experience by making learning in different hospitals and clinics easy, providing us with temporary accommodations when placed outside of Cork and organizing orientations to get us settled into each placement.
Research is also a big part of medicine in UCC. We are all expected to complete a research project from year 3 – 5 as part of our education. There is no shortage of amazing researchers amongst the clinicians in the hospitals. We receive plenty of guidance from the school of medicine and our supervisors throughout, so it was a fair challenge to get us familiar with the basics. Even as I struggled, I appreciate the fact that I will be prepared to participate in projects later on in my career to improve patient care.
Throughout my clinical years, I have rotated through 6 hospitals and 4 general practices. I was extremely fortunate to have met many amazing doctors working in the south and learning from a variety of mentors helped me consolidate my knowledge to allow me to perform well. As I graduate, I feel confident that with the education I have received in UCC, I will be a competent doctor who will be able to serve patients proudly.
UCC Medicine Introduction video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-whMq04x0K0
UCC International Medicine Brochure – https://www.ucc.ie/en/media/academic/schoolofmedicine/docs/internationalbrochures/UCCSchoolofMedicinebrochure2019.pdf
UCD has the largest university campus in all of Ireland, and often the first comment when people first visit is, ‘wow, it’s so big’.
All the different faculties (or schools, as referred to in UCD) are spread out across different buildings on campus, almost each having their own dedicated library and cafe. Medical students are mainly based in the Health Sciences building, including for lectures, tutorials, dissection labs, clinical skills rooms and computer labs. Occasionally, some lectures may also take place in the Science building.
Of course, if you’re ever tired of the environment in the Health Sciences buildings, or want to try a different cafe or library, there’s no restriction to hanging out in any other building. This is especially true nearing exam season, when libraries begin filling up and students rush to hunt for empty seats. The James Joyce library, which is the largest and main library in UCD, ranges up to 4 levels and sits right in front of the main lake – on lucky days, you may even be able to land a seat in James Joyce with a gorgeous view of the lake.
During sunny days, don’t be surprised to see a myriad of students unwinding all around the lake with books, food and friends. What’s even better is that this isn’t the only lake around – in fact, UCD has up to 3 lakes and many walking trails around campus. An app was even recently developed for UCD’s walking trails.
UCD also boasts a huge sports centre. Owing to the variety of facilities, Malaysian sports tournaments have always been hosted in UCD. The sports centre houses a 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, a wall-climbing range, several sports halls, 3 modern gyms, an abundance of fitness classes as well as numerous indoor and outdoor courts and fields for all sorts of sports. These aren’t only for the use of UCD students and staff, but are also open to members of the public for classes and for paid use.
The best part of all is that UCD also harbours student accommodation on campus – which means that you can live in the very same place alongside all these facilities. Campus accommodation is especially prioritised for first year students, so that freshers need fret over commuting and housing when first settling into Dublin.
Clubs & Societies
Medical students do have spare time outside academia, despite the common perception that we don’t. It’s just a matter of what we choose to do with that spare time.
UCD offers a wonderful range of extracurricular opportunities to add some spice to your university experience. There are over 80 student societies and over 60 sports clubs for you to get involved in, to meet new friends with the same interests, and to make new memories along the way. These range from career-oriented societies like Medical Society and Law Society (often abbreviated to MedSoc and LawSoc respectively), to religious groups like Islamic Society and Christian Union, to cultural societies like Malaysian Society and Japanese society, to more unique societies like SciFi, Chess and even Juggling. There
However, if you’re really into Medicine and want even more out of it, MedSoc actually branches into several smaller societies such as Emergency Medicine Society, Student Medical Journal, Paediatrics Society, Medical Students Overseas Relief and many more. These societies carry out a variety of academic and social events. For example, the Surgical Society carries out Surgical Skills Night every year, where medical students from all years can learn and practice how to suture like a surgeon and compete in doing simulated laparoscopies. MedSoc itself also hosts a range of events, such as the annual Med Ball for medical students to dress up and socialise over a three-course hotel dinner, as well as a sports tournament known as Med Cup, fundraisers, student summits, ski trips, career evenings, guest speakers and many more. In fact, MedSoc even won UCD Society of the Year 2020-2021!
Worried you’d miss home? Don’t worry, UCD has the biggest Malaysian Society (shortened to MSoc) in the whole of Ireland. It also hosts Ireland’s only Malaysian Night (MNight), which is a play run and directed by Malaysian students that all Malaysian students look forward to every year. Almost all MSocs in the UK and Ireland host an MNight each year, and it’s a common tradition for friends to buy tickets to each other’s MNights to show support and enjoy a good show!
To join these clubs, look out for Freshers’ Week, which is when tents and booths will be set up inside and outside the UCD Student Centre in the first few weeks of each semester.
COVID-19 adaptations and how your university helped you excel through it.
The COVID pandemic affected everyone in many different ways, including university students and their universities.
Programs like Medicine & Nursing, in particular, were posed the unique challenge of ensuring that students received sufficient clinical exposure to qualify professionally, while at the same time, universities also had to ensure the safety of students as well as patients.
For pre-clinical students, much of their classes were shifted online to accommodate to national guidelines and to students who were restricted from travelling. Because this early stage of the course involves mainly learning theory, the virtual classroom worked as well as a physical lecture hall but with some added flexibilities – such as now being able to re-watch recordings of previous lectures, which is handy if you needed to review a topic again or understand it better. Dissection labs were also carried out on campus when restrictions permitted.
As for clinical students at UCD, after the first wave we were lucky to be able to resume placements in hospitals without any cancellations or gaps, and with the appropriate safety measures in place. The Health Service Executive (HSE), which is the equivalent to the Ministry of Health, had indicated clinical students as frontline workers, which meant we could continue with placements regardless of the level of restrictions. What this also meant was that clinical students were given the privilege of being the first few in the country to receive COVID vaccines, too!
Lectures for clinical students also shifted online and were a mix of pre-recordings and live online lectures. So after our normal ward activities during the day with the appropriate distancing and guidelines (ward rounds, history-taking, attending clinics and theatre, bedside tutorials) we could then head home to study from the online lectures on our own accord. This is different to pre-COVID days where the lectures would be carried out in the hospital lecture theatres and we would have no access to recordings.
Some clinical specialties had even gone to the length of developing special interactive e-modules for UCD students, where we can work through different clinical scenarios while interacting with an animated patient. The medical education team also recorded videos of each physical examination, such as how to auscultate the chest with a stethoscope and find reflexes with a reflex hammer, only for UCD students to watch and refer to.
Towards the end of the academic year when COVID numbers improved and we were all fully vaccinated, we slowly transitioned back to what it was like pre-COVID but blended with all the benefits of online learning — we started having lectures and tutorials in-person again at the hospital, but we would also have access to recordings and interactive e-modules, the best of both worlds!
Medicine is a course which requires its students to study a wide amount of knowledge regarding the human body, from basic anatomy, physiology to advanced clinical skills and knowledge in order to understand the underlying pathophysiology of a disease and the management of the disease.
In order to help students become familiarised and proficient with the fundamental knowledge taught in first year, UCD offers a more hands-on approach in educating its students. Apart from attending lectures, students are also required to attend lab sessions to enhance their learning experience.
These sessions are weekly and are usually each focused on one segment of human anatomy, with several stations during each session. For example, a session on the lower limb involves stations where you would have guided teaching using an anatomy model, followed by a station with prosected lower limbs (prosections are parts of cadavers that have been already dissected by an anatomist for the purpose of teaching students), followed by a station in which students themselves can attempt to dissect the part of the body being studied in groups of 4 or less. These cadavers are real patients who had donated their bodies to science, and are hence a privilege for us UCD students to work with.