Swansea University becomes latest body to award UK medical degrees

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Swansea’ University’s medical school, established to increase recruitment and retention of doctors in Wales, has joined the General Medical Council’s (GMC) distinguished list of UK medical schools entitled to award UK primary medical qualifications (PMQs).

Students studying on the University’s four-year, full-time Graduate Entry Medicine (MB BCh) programme will now receive their medical degrees from Swansea University and have the opportunity to recite the doctor’s oath in both English and Welsh as part of their graduation. 

From 2004, the Swansea Graduate Entry Programme in Medicine (GEP) was funded by the Welsh Assembly Government as part of a collaboration between Swansea and Cardiff universities.  Students on the GEP programme undertook two years of study at Swansea before joining the final two years of the Cardiff undergraduate programme.   From 2007, the College of Medicine worked closely with the Welsh Government, the Wales Deanery, local Health Boards, hospitals, community organisations, students and the GMC to develop an innovative Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programme to help meet Wales' needs for more doctors and serve local and regional community needs. The new, four-year GEM programme has been offered since September 2010, with its first cohort of students graduating in the 2014 Summer Degree and Award Congregations at Swansea’s prestigious Brangwyn Hall. 

Professor Keith Lloyd, Dean and Head of the College of Medicine, said: “Since our last GMC review, we have worked closely with the GMC, our academic colleagues and student body to strengthen and further develop the GEM programme to meet the standards and outcomes in Tomorrow’s Doctors

“We are delighted to be recognised for achieving the GMC’s stringent standards in medical education and training with the entitlement to award PMQs and we look forward to celebrating the graduation of our first cohort of students this July, especially in this, our tenth anniversary year.”

The role of the GMC is to protect, promote and maintain the health and safety of the public by ensuring that doctors follow proper standards of medical practice, through keeping up-to-date registers of qualified doctors; fostering good medical practice; promoting high standards of medical education and training and dealing firmly and fairly with doctors whose fitness to practise is in doubt. 

To promote high standards in medical education and training, the GMC sets requirements on what it expects of new graduates and defines the standards that medical schools must achieve in teaching and assessing medical students. Tomorrow’s Doctors (2009) outlines the requirements of a doctor under three themes: doctor as scientist and a scholar, practitioner and professional. 

The stand alone Graduate Entry Medicine programme at Swansea University is unique in Wales, and one of a small group of similar programmes of medical study in the UK.  It is an innovative, accelerated medical degree open to graduates of any discipline who have achieved, or expect to achieve, a first or upper second class honours degree or a lower second class plus a masters or other higher degree. The GEM programme has one of the smallest year cohorts in the UK, enabling an individualised, tailored approach to learning and student support, particularly on clinical practice. 

Professor Judy McKimm, Dean of Medical Education at the College of Medicine, said: “In common with best medical education practice internationally and in line with Tomorrow’s Doctors, the Swansea GEM programme incorporates case-based learning; clinical contact from the second week of the course; eleven weeks of community based learning; a high level of patient involvement and a large number of self-selected clinical and research experiences to develop lifelong learning. 

“The GMC visiting team has highlighted some of the programme's unique features including the Rural and Remote Health in Medical Education (RRHIME) track, embedded Welsh language, health and culture, Integrated Clinical Method and the Swansea-Gambia link aimed at developing students' understanding, experience and capability of working in underserved areas of Wales and beyond”. 

Professor Richard B Davies, Swansea University’s Vice-Chancellor, said: “Swansea University’s College of Medicine is one of the UK’s fastest growing medical schools, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. We warmly welcome the GMC’s decision to allow it to award its own medical degrees.

"Competition is fierce for the 70 or so places available each year on this programme, attracting excellent candidates. This GMC validation boosts our upward trajectory, and our ambition to become one of the world's top 200 universities by 2020.”

 For more information on the GMC, visit http://www.gmc-uk.org/education/undergraduate/awarding_bodies.asp and for more information of Swansea University’s Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programme visit http://www.swansea.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/medicine/mbbchgraduateentrymedicine/.