North of Scotland to welcome record number of medical students in 2023

North of Scotland to welcome record number of medical students in 2023

The University of Aberdeen along with NHS Grampian and NHS Highland will welcome almost 300 undergraduate medicine students in September 2023.

The University’s medical programme was voted top in the UK for student satisfaction by final year students last year, who spend their two final academic years of study in clinical practice in hospital and general practice settings across NHS Grampian and NHS Highland.

As part of an ongoing commitment by the Scottish Government to expand medical student numbers and increase the future medical workforce, the number of students coming to Aberdeen has been increasing over a five-year period. All five medical schools in Scotland have had their intake expectations increased by another 15 – 20 places for 2023. In 2018 the intake target for Aberdeen was 178, and with ongoing increases the target for 2023 is 296 new students entering Year 1 of the Aberdeen MBChB programme.

Professor Siladitya Bhattacharya, Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition at the University of Aberdeen, commented: “The excellent feedback from our final year students represents a hugely positive reflection on the clinical learning experience provided by NHS Grampian and NHS Highland. We would like to acknowledge and thank colleagues for our strong partnership as we welcome many more students onto the programme.”

During their first three years of study, medical students benefit from a wide range of clinical attachments delivered at hospitals across NHS Grampian’s Foresterhill Health Campus, which remains the largest teaching hospital campus in Europe. In year 4, all students complete at least one of seven placements in Inverness and many will select the ‘Remote and Rural’ option which allows them to spend the whole academic year in Inverness. The final year of study sees students complete at least one clinical attachment in either Inverness, Elgin or further afield in Shetland, Orkney or the Western Isles, as well as those completed in Aberdeen.

NHS Grampian Medical Director, Nick Fluck, added: “We are pleased to support the excellent student experience enjoyed by those learning in our healthcare settings. Training the next generation of doctors is a core part of our work and we look forward to welcoming many more new faces to our highly committed teams. Students share fresh perspectives and inspiration, and help us to deliver high standards of service to people in our care. We hope students become our future colleagues, and we are keen to ensure they want to stay and work in the area.”   

The University medical school also continues to develop outreach work supporting medical student applications from a wide range of backgrounds. The Gateway2Medicine is a one-year programme which has also received continued support from the Scottish Government. It is designed to encourage students, who may not have had the same learning opportunities, to meet advertised entry requirements for medicine. This includes applicants from rural or remote areas and upon successful completion of the course students have the opportunity to progress into the five-year MBChB programme.

Dr Boyd Peters, Medical Director with NHS Highland, said: “NHS Highland enjoys a longstanding relationship with the University of Aberdeen, and we are delighted to support medical students to develop their skills and knowledge as they prepare for their future roles. Our clinical teams are committed to ensuring these doctors of the future enjoy a positive experience as they complete their training, and welcome their contribution and enthusiasm as they join our colleagues on placement across NHS Highland. We hope through offering excellent training experiences, in both urban and remote and rural healthcare settings, that we can inspire them for their future careers and look forward to welcoming them back as valued colleagues in years to come.”

So, what do the students have to say?

Rafsan Chowdhury of Aberdeen is in his fifth year studying medicine at the University. As part of his studies, he has completed an intercalated Masters in Clinical Pharmacology. He said he was drawn to Aberdeen by the modern curriculum and facilities.

Rafsan said: “As part of my clinical placements I’ve worked at hospitals in Stornoway, Elgin, Inverness, Aberdeen and Fraserburgh. As I start to apply for a foundation job, I feel well-prepared and that I have had a diverse range of experiences. I was on Stornoway for two months and gained a lot of exposure to different patient issues in that time including how to deal with transfers from rural areas and how you prioritise. I felt fully integrated into the team and gained valuable multi-dimensional experience.”

Alys Dean, a third year medicine from Skye who completed the Gateway2Medicine programme, said: “I wouldn’t have had the grades to get straight into medicine from school but really liked the Aberdeen campus and city when I came to an open day. I started Gateway2Medicine in 2019 and spent half the year at NESCOL and half at the University. I was really lucky because I made lots of great friends from day one and found it much less daunting when I came to start my medical degree. The Medical School feels right in the middle of things, it’s easy to get around and I really like that we have patient contact from year 1. It feels like we are fully integrated in the medical culture and it’s a lovely place to study.”

Find out more about the training options available with the University of Aberdeen’s Institute of Education in Healthcare and Medical Sciences: