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Medicine placements

Clinical placements are a key part of your learning on the MBChB Medicine degree, with patient and community-related activity starting early in your first year.

In SiP (Systems in Practice), you’ll have several full-day sessions in primary care at general practices, and may include experiences with community and mental health providers, as well as weekly half-day sessions in secondary care in the Essex Acute Trusts.

In PiP (Preparation in Practice), your clinical placements become your dominant learning environment, where you’ll have patient contact in a variety of settings, including primary care, mental health and acute care. You’ll develop a wealth of clinical experience of patients and their problems and learn to look at the patient as a whole, enabling you to pursue a career in medicine where patients’ concerns and problems are central to your practice.

Clinical placements are an exciting opportunity for you to experience the real world of medicine and apply your learning in the practice environment.

During your first three years you’ll attend a combination of hospital and general practice placements alongside activities involving community care, mental health and working in an inter-professional environment.

In each of the first three years, you’ll attend five full-day placements in one GP surgery or a small group of local practices. All of your placements will be Essex-based using Colchester, Basildon, Harlow, Southend and Broomfield hospitals, as well as Essex-based GP practices and community and mental health locations. Some of these hospitals have specialised areas, such as the Burns and Plastics Unit at Broomfield and the Cardiothoracic Centre at Basildon.

At the end of each year you’ll also complete a block placement of several weeks. This may be partly in GP practices or community settings as well as spending more time in the hospitals. You’ll be supported by a lead clinical educator, but working in a multi-professional environment which will give you an opportunity to learn about all aspects of our NHS service.

For some placements you’ll be expected to make your own travel arrangements, at your own cost.

In your first year you’ll be allocated to a single hospital trust for your placements and will attend as part of a small group for one afternoon each week for five weeks in the Respiratory Block, the Cardiovascular Block and the Gastrointestinal Block. The main purpose of the placements is for you to develop the basic clinical skills acquired during your campus-based teaching.

You’ll practice general history taking, patient examination and basic procedures such as respiratory function tests and perform and interpret a 12- lead electrocardiogram (ECG).

You’ll also have five full days in a GP practice where there will be the opportunity to interact with patients. These may be unsorted surgery attenders or ‘expert’ patients who the practice ask to attend for the purpose of student education.

We also expect you to experience all aspects of the Practice which may include working with nurses, observing clinics, minor surgery, pharmacy, administration, reception and attending house calls with a GP.

At the end of the year there will be an integration block of hospital placements which will include general surgery and general medicine. These environments may be anything from wards, admissions and observation units, clinics, acute and emergency departments, or operating theatres.

You’ll be encouraged to have close interaction with clinical teams and patients so that the knowledge and skills you have acquired over the year can be applied in greater depth.

In the second year you will have five full days in a GP practice, where possible returning to the same practice with similar opportunities to Year 1 but, based on the spiral curriculum, further developing your skills.

The block placements at the end of the year may offer opportunities to work within GP practices or with the mental health Trust in Essex. Again, it will consolidate the skills you have been taught during year 2, with greater patient exposure.

There will also be arranged sessions to support your block learning with patient exposure and planned learning opportunities

In Year 3 you’ll attend block hospital placements to continue your focused clinical practice. Similar to other block placements the sessions may not align directly with the system blocks, but will offer a greater depth of exposure in the specialties.

By this stage of your learning you’ll be expected to be highly self-directed on your clinical placement in preparation for years 4 and 5.

Once again you’ll have 5 full days in a GP practice, where possible returning to the same practice and being given opportunities to deal with patients directly, whilst under supervision.

You’ll spend virtually your whole time in the clinical environment, either in hospitals or in general practice. Simulation-based teaching in the medical school on campus will supplement your learning.

The hospital placements are specialty-focussed, with all students experiencing the core specialties of medicine and its sub-specialties, surgery and its sub-specialties, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, acute care and emergency medicine.

There will also be an opportunity to choose from various Student Selected Components to deepen learning in specialty areas of interest.

Year 5 will refine all the clinical skills learned over the preceding years as you shadow Foundation doctors in preparation for your own transition into the role of a qualified doctor.