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 medical syllabus, University of Galway has implemented a more practical approach in educating its students. Apart from attending lectures on anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and professionalism, students are also required to attend lab sessions to enhance their learning experience. University of Galway offers students the chance to learn through dissection of a cadaver. The learning opportunities of students are further maximised by breaking the whole 200+ medical students attending first year to smaller groups of 10 per dissection table.
The main clinical years in Irish Medical Schools begin during third year of medical education. During the clinical phase, students are not only required to attend lectures held throughout the semester, but also to attend clinical learning along with a team of doctors: consultants, specialist registrars, senior registrar, senior house officers and interns. Students learn about bedside mannerism, investigations done in clinical settings to manage various health conditions, management of diseases based on the team’s specialty that the students are attached to and much more.
In order to maximise every student’s learning opportunity, students are broken up into small groups, some may even get be attached to one team all by themselves. Students will be assigned to a specialty for a number of weeks where they will experience patient interactions and understand each individual patient’s needs. Students will have the opportunity to learn in many other hospitals around Ireland. This allows you to learn from a variety of mentors and see regional differences in practicing medicine. Another advantage of this attachment is that some hospitals are more specialised in a certain specialty and through placement in other hospitals allow students to have better learning opportunities regarding the specialty.
Apart from hospital placements, students who are attending their General Practice module will also require to travel to various part of the country to attach to their assigned GP tutor
Being placed in a different hospital has been advantageous to University of Galway students’ learning experience as they can experience different hospital cultures, understand the different hospital guidelines and also meet different doctors throughout their medical studies as an undergraduate. It also provides students a greater learning opportunity in the specialty that they are interested in and all the relevant advancement of the field in specialised hospitals.
Unlike most tertiary education, which requires students to submit a dissertation during their final year, medicine only requires students to pass their examination to complete their degree. Despite a medical syllabus consisting of evidence-based medicine, statistical analysis and database searching techniques which could help students to find strong data to support their knowledge in their studies and future career, many students have never written a research paper throughout their education. Fortunately, in Ireland and at University of Galway, medical students are given such an opportunity to produce a research paper during their summer holidays, while some may even carry out their research paper throughout their academic year. For proactive students, they can liaise with consultants, tutors and lecturers who work in the field of interest to have them become your supervisor to support your research project. Alternatively, University of Galway provides a platform during semester 1 of each academic year to allow students to apply for a research supervisor.
Furthermore, Ireland also provides funding to students who are doing summer research. Students will only need to apply to the Health Research Board (HRB) and fill up relevant credentials and your end of year grades to apply for a sponsorship for your project. University of Galway also provides funding to students for their summer research project which you can apply via the school website.
All these precious opportunities provided by University of Galway has empowered many students in running their own research project. It also provides a great learning experience which sharpens student’s problem-solving skills and communication skills. Some excellent students may even get their written project published in the school journal or even international journals which has impact factors.
Special Study Module (SSM)
Special study module is an academic module offered by University of Galway medical school to students to learn more around certain fields of medicine outside their usual curriculum. These modules play a small role in the students’ end of year grade. It serves mainly to let you explore fields outside of your current syllabus.