This year, for the first time in its history, the University will be offering a complete programme of medical education to all its medical students. Successful applicants accepted to study Medicine starting in October 2014 will be admitted to a co-ordinated six year programme in which the Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos will be followed by the clinical programme leading to the MB BChir degree. These 2014 entrants will be the first cohort in the new educational programme. Transfers out for clinical studies will no longer occur after 2016 and the clinical student numbers will increase in 2017.
This change will end the system in which students admitted to the Cambridge pre-clinical Medical and Veterinary Sciences Tripos progress to seven different Universities for their clinical studies. Because of this, our current students face a significant extra hurdle in their academic careers, having to undergo a highly competitive application process in the middle of the third year when they should be focused on their Part II studies.
A fully developed, coherent six-year programme provides us with exciting opportunities to create innovative educational themes stretching across two Schools of the University, emphasising the interdependence of core and clinical sciences and their equal importance for future clinical practice, translational medicine and research. The Clinical School and the School of Biological Sciences are working jointly to develop these themes. The scientific content of the course will not be diluted in any way – we believe that a strong scientific training is invaluable for the future careers of our students, in whatever medical speciality they ultimately choose.
The first major difference will be the introduction of a new clinical curriculum in 2015, in advance of the increase in numbers to ensure a smooth transition. In this curriculum, clinical teaching will be distributed more evenly across the year, allowing us to take up currently unused teaching capacity both in CUHT and across the East of England region.
Nationally, the context in which medical education is delivered has been transformed in the last decade, including the need for us to meet the changing requirements of our regulators and external stakeholders, particularly the General Medical Council, the Department of Health and NHS employers. In addition to the academic content of the course, these bodies require a formal education programme in medical professionalism and governance structures to ensure medical student Fitness to Practice from the very first day of the first year of the course. These present serious challenges in our divided curriculum and should be addressed more successfully in future as part of our students’ personal and professional development throughout the six-year long coordinated course.
Says Dr Diana Wood, Director of Medical Education, “We are looking forward to these exciting new developments which will promote interdisciplinary learning, respond to the changing healthcare landscape and allow us to develop excellent “Tomorrow’s Doctors” for the 21st century.”