Viewing archives for Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Introduction

Hi, I’m Annie and I’m a first-year Medicine student from London.

It sounds cheesy but my favourite thing about Medicine is the people studying it. Everyone is so lovely and there’s a strong community spirit amongst the medical students, whether we are organising bar crawls or sharing revision tips. I think it’s one of closest-knit courses at Oxford. Our course has three pre-clinical years, where you are essentially doing Biomedicine, so be prepared to study things which seem very distant from patient care, such as the genomic structure of bacteria! You then have three clinical years based at the JR hospital.

If you are thinking of applying, I’d say follow any opportunities you have that vaguely relate to medicine/health, whether it’s work experience, volunteering, or extracurricular projects. However, not everything you do has to revolve around getting into Medicine. It’s also ok to keep up hobbies just because you enjoy them! When I was at school I loved rock-climbing and it has been great to continue with this at Uni.

College experience

What really surprised me about coming to Oxford was the volume of independent work and research you have to do –  you’ll be given an essay title, sometimes a list of textbooks, and you’ll be expected to teach yourself the topic to a fairly high level. At the same time, I think most people surprise themselves by adapting to this pretty quickly, as the tutors have full confidence that you’ll suit this kind of work.

As well as occasional climbing, I volunteer with Jacari, a charity which provides free tuition for local kids who speak English as an additional language and need some help. People sometimes talk about the ‘town vs gown’ culture but there are lots of ways to get involved with Oxford as a city if you’d like to, and I think it’s nice to get to know people who live in the city where you spend three or more years of your life. I’m also on the MedSoc Committee as an Entz (Oxford jargon for entertainment) rep, and this has been a great way to get to know other Medical students outside of College better.

One of the best things about Queen’s is the lunches. After returning from a gruelling morning of four back-to-back lectures, there’s nothing I want more than a big plate of spaghetti bolognese with three kinds of potato to accompany it (seeing friends is, of course, an additional bonus!). I’m also a big fan of the Saturday formal halls, which are slightly pricier (around £8-9 at the time of writing), but it feels very luxurious to get dressed up and go to a three-course dinner.

As part of the JCR committee I’m one of the Webmasters. I applied in part because I heard it was the least stressful role, but also because of the cool name! Though the main chunk of the job is to keep the website up-to-date, it has also been interesting to take on more responsibility with other projects, and learn about the inner workings of the College, such as by collating a list of the financial support resources available to students.

I think it’s great that Oxford has a collegiate system as it is much easier to get to know people in a smaller group like a college – you don’t feel like another face in a crowd. Plus, I love having friends from a variety of subjects, which I think is harder at other unis where you might mainly socialise with others on your course.

Introduction

I’m Bethan and I am currently a first-year medic at Queen’s. I’m from Ingleton, which is a small village in the Yorkshire Dales, and I went to a state school nearby.

Medicine at Oxford is quite different to many other universities. Being a traditional course means that our first three years are pre-clinical, and so are very focussed on the science underpinning medicine. In the first year, the content is divided into physiology and pharmacology, organisation of the body, biochemistry, and medical genetics. We study these in a variety of ways, including lectures, tutorials, and seminars. Much of our learning is reinforced by practicals. Anatomy is supported by sessions in the demonstration room, where we have access to prosected specimens, and we have histology practicals where we use microscopy to look at the cellular organisation of tissues.

Tutorials are a brilliant opportunity to discuss topics you have learnt/will learn about in lectures in much greater detail with tutors who are knowledgeable about the subjects covered. They’ve definitely been one of my favourite aspects of the course, particularly because the tutors at Queen’s are so friendly and patient. Our organisation of the body tutorials in the first year are run by practicing doctors, which means that we’re able to discuss anatomy, embryology, and endocrinology in a very clinically relevant way. Our tutorials vary in size – for biochemistry and physiology & pharmacology tutorials, we go in pairs, while our organisation of the body tutorials are either in threes or with all six of us together.

Another part of the course that I’ve found very rewarding is the patient/doctor course. This involves us going in pairs to meet patients with diseases we’re learning about at the time (e.g. diabetes or a heart problem) in their homes, where we get to talk to the patient and start practicing history-taking. After each meeting with the patients, we then meet as a group at a local surgery with our GP tutor, and discuss the patients we’ve seen.

College experience

While the workload in Oxford is pretty full-on, there’s still lots of time for doing other things, both in and out of College. I took up rowing this year – while I’m very much lacking in ability, I’ve really enjoyed the social aspect of it, with tug of warpids (the off-water replacement for Torpids, which was cancelled because of the river levels) being a particular highlight. There have also been a number of Medic bar crawls and crewdates throughout the year which have been fun ways of getting to know the other students doing the course and making friends outside of College.

My favourite thing about Queen’s is the people – everyone is so friendly – and it is lovely to have the opportunity to get to know people from such a wide range of backgrounds, and with such varied interests. The Beer Cellar is a social hub, where I have spent many a happy evening chatting with friends, as well as attending the ‘bops’ (parties) that take place there. The library at Queen’s is also a wonderful resource: with three floors, each with a distinct atmosphere, there’s a desk for every occasion (mainly frantic essay-writing after a period of procrastination).

One of the aspects of life at Queen’s that I have found most reassuring is the College family system. Each Fresher is given college parents, who are there to be asked stupid questions, to give advice about your course and student life, and as friendly faces to look out for around College. Evensong in the chapel is another thing I’ve found very relaxing, and you definitely don’t need to be religious to appreciate it. I’m an atheist, but I love listening to the choir singing so beautifully, and it’s the perfect opportunity to take some time out from the busy Oxford life.

It would also be criminal for me to talk about life at Queen’s without discussing Hall. College lunch is the highlight of every day, and is what keeps me going through long mornings of lectures. The roast dinners also deserve a mention – I have been known on several occasions to have one for both Sunday lunch and Sunday dinner, which speaks volumes about how delicious they are.

Course

  • BM BCh Medicine
  • BA Medical Sciences
  • MBiomedSci Biomedical Sciences

Queen’s enjoys a strong tradition in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Lord Florey, the Nobel Laureate who introduced penicillin as an antibiotic, was a Provost of Queen’s, and Sir Edward Abraham, who discovered the cephalosporin class of antibiotics, was a student here, and later became an honorary fellow of the College. The College Medical Society arranges guest speaker events and dinners, providing a lively forum for the discussion of medical and biomedical matters.

In addition to the current tutors listed, Professor Peter Robbins (former Head of the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics) is also a Fellow of the College, as is Professor Simon Leedham (Professor of Molecular and Population Genetics); we are in the process of appointing a further Professorial Fellow in Immunology.

Admissions

Queen’s welcomes applications for the six-year undergraduate Medicine course, for which we have a fixed quota of six places per year, and for the course in Biomedical Sciences, for which we offer up to two additional places. We do not currently accept applications for the accelerated (graduate entry) Medicine course.

The admissions process includes a rigorous, centralised shortlisting procedure, based in part on the biomedical admissions test (BMAT); shortlisted candidates are distributed between colleges in proportion to the number of places available and are each interviewed at two colleges. One of these will be the college of first choice (if a college was specified by the applicant) and the other will be assigned essentially at random. Offers are made after careful consideration of all aspects of the application except college preference. As a consequence, it is quite common for an applicant to be offered a place at a college that was not their first choice.

The courses

The three pre-clinical years of the Medicine course include the first two parts of the Bachelor of Medicine degree, which are examined at the end of the third term and the beginning of the sixth, respectively. Medical students then complete a BA degree in Medical Sciences, from the sixth term until mid-way through the ninth (the ‘Final Honours School’). The objective of the BA course is for the student to develop a critical understanding of research work in specialist areas of their own choosing. After the BA exams, a three-week course in Principles of Clinical Anatomy provides a useful bridge to the three clinical years.

Pre-clinical students remain in Oxford for the three years of clinical training (based at the John Radcliffe Hospital) provided they have completed the pre-clinical course, though they may change college at this stage if they so wish.

The Biomedical Sciences course provides a broad foundation in the first year, with courses covering cells, molecules, genes, brain, body, behaviour, mathematics and statistics. In the second year, students choose from a wide variety of options, covering aspects of psychology, neuroscience, physiology, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, cellular pathology and immunology. Students can choose to graduate after three years with a BA degree, which depending on the options chosen in the second and third years is either in Cell and Systems Biology, or in Neuroscience. The research-intensive fourth year leads to the award of a Master’s degree (MBiomedSci).

Teaching

At Queen’s, undergraduates have two or three tutorials per week during the courses for the first BM (medical students) and Part I exam (Biomedical Sciences students). The tutorial teaching provided by the College covers a wide range of disciplines. During the Final Honour School courses, undergraduates often have tutorials outside the College with specialist tutors who are in many cases leaders in their respective fields of biomedical research. Lectures and practical classes operate in parallel with the tutorials and are organised at the University level through the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre on South Parks Road.

During the clinical course students receive both tutorial and bedside teaching from the Clinical Tutors and Lecturers and from other clinicians with relevant expertise. This teaching runs in parallel with the extensive teaching programme provided by the clinical school.

Interviews

Shortlisted candidates are interviewed at two colleges, usually within a 24-hour period in early December. While the precise format varies, each interview will normally involve two or more interviewers and will address a published set of criteria (see Medicine selection criteria and Biomedical Sciences selection criteria). We consider tutorial teaching to be an essential part of the learning experience at Oxford, so during the interview we often aim to recreate the feel of one of these small-group teaching sessions. Ability to engage in a discussion of medical or scientific issues, to appreciate different points of view and to process new information effectively will be more highly valued than simple factual knowledge at this stage of the selection process.

Introduction

I was an undergraduate and clinical student at Queen’s and then worked in a number of London hospitals including Guy’s, Lewisham, St Thomas’, Hammersmith and the Royal Brompton hospital. I returned to Oxford for my doctoral studies as a Medical Research Council Training Fellow. Following further clinical training I took up a Medical Research Council Clinician Scientist Fellowship and then spent a number of years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco and subsequently at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). I returned to Oxford in 2002, taking up a Medical Research Council Senior Fellowship in 2004, becoming a Reader in 2006 and Professor in 2011. I head a research group in the Nuffield Department of Medicine, practice clinical medicine as a consultant in general medicine and nephrology at the John Radcliffe and Churchill hospitals and teach clinical medical students. I completed a five-year term of office as Dean of the College in 2019 and I am Senior Treasurer of the Junior Common Room (JCR).

Teaching

At Queen’s I teach clinical medicine through a combination of bedside teaching in the hospital and tutorial teaching in the quieter atmosphere of college. I am a great believer in the value of the tutorial approach in the teaching of clinical medicine. I also supervise MSc and DPhil students in my research group.

Research

My research interest is in the role of the immune system in human disease. I am interested in understanding the recognition of diseased cells and using this knowledge to design new therapies. I am also interested in understanding chronic atherosclerotic vascular disease and chronic kidney disease and their genetic basis in order to improve their treatment. My laboratory uses a wide range of research approaches including structural, molecular and cellular biology, as well as studies involving patients.

Publications

For a full listing of my publications, please visit www.ccmp.ox.ac.uk/publications-3.