Medefine – Birmingham Medical School
by Omowumi Folaranmi

Birmingham Medical School hosts one of the largest cohorts of medical students, and hence a very diverse group, with the opportunity to meet people from varying backgrounds and cultures making the university experience all the more interesting.

Birmingham has an unfair reputation of being quite unconventional; but this is what makes it unique. It is an exciting combination of modern commerciality, but with the oasis-like calm and tradition of the campus at Selly Oak. It’s not too quiet, but also not as quite as hectic or expensive as other large cities.

The medical course is particularly engaging, with a strong focus on academics. I especially like the systems based course structure which integrates the biochemistry, anatomy, histology, pharmacology, pathology and other aspects of each system into modules. This allows the student to better appreciate each system and their peculiar functionalities. The course is supplemented by clinical cases at GP surgeries which provide very useful clinical background to the biological science theory. As provide are opportunities to develop clinical skills and observe GP consultations, as well as carry out interviews. All this helps students gain a perspective of illness and its effects from the patients’ experience and perspectives. The cases also provide useful clinical context that matches the biological sciences studied concurrently.

As far as I am fascinated with the sciences, I am also concerned about helping other people. As such, I benefit from how dynamic the medical profession is. There is freedom to explore several other things that interest me such as teaching, research – even besides the immensely rewarding aspect of being able to better people’s lives. I am particularly interested in public healthcare. I believe that making medicine and medical education more accessible is essential because it incites a multiplier effect wherein the collective health of entire communities is improved. I feel that it is vital to propagate medical knowledge, so that everyone can benefit from it.

Medefine is one such platform aiming to achieve this goal, and it has served as an inspiration for me and doubtless several other students. Getting into medical school is notoriously difficult. This is especially (and quite unnecessarily) so for international students unfamiliar with the process and with foreign systems. Without the right guidance, many miss out on the great opportunity of studying medicine. This is why I am so privileged to be a part of Medefine, one, among other programs, that works to mitigate this alienation – work I think is essential and laudable.

There is a lot of support available for international students to help with settling into university life and living in the UK. There is also an event during Welcome week at the beginning of the first semester where you have the opportunity to meet other international students, both new and returning who usually have great advice and stories to share.

Getting into medical school (especially after the purgatory that the applications process can be) is scary as well as exciting. The transition from pre-undergraduate learning to a university environment can be overwhelming, but there’s always lot of help available – all that is needed is asking.

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