The Cambridge pre-clinical medical school accepts about 300 students annually; when these numbers are divided among the colleges, Fitzwilliam is allowed to take around ten to twelve medical students per year. These are normally chosen from five to six times this number of applicants.
Medicine at Cambridge
The Cambridge pre-clinical school has many advantages, particularly when compared with the short pre-clinical courses offered by many other medical schools:
- The high scientific standard of the courses in the pre-clinical subjects; they are taught as sciences in their own right, with the result that students obtain a scientific training at the same time as they acquire the essential preliminary qualifications for the clinical course.
- The enormous scope for variation in the subjects studied in the third year including the opportunity to study a single subject in great depth when doing the Part II courses. Many Part II courses also offer the opportunity to become involved in cutting edge research which for many students can lead to presentations to scientific societies and in some cases to the publication of research papers.
- Supervision sessions provide excellent opportunities for regular contact with members of the teaching staff and discussion of an individual student's work and academic difficulties. This system is one of the main reasons that most people choose to come to Cambridge.
- The extra-curricular activities in music, drama, sport and hobbies generally are excellent and of a very high standard. Since students are not segregated into subject groups within their college, there is every opportunity to establish friendships with non-medical contemporaries. The opportunity to mix with students in other disciplines is extremely valuable for medical students since it allows them to learn more about society (and their future patients). The University accommodation is of a high standard and the "tutorial" system provides excellent pastoral support for students who have any problems.
Medicine at Fitzwilliam
Choosing a college is influenced in part by social and environmental factors such as accommodation, friendliness, preference for architectural styles or not living in the centre of town surrounded by tourists. It should also be influenced by the teaching offered within a college and at Fitzwilliam we pride ourselves on the quality of the supervisions provided in medical and veterinary subjects. In the recent past, Fitzwilliam medics and vets have performed consistently well. Medical students at Fitzwilliam are well served through having 24-hour access to the Evelyn Suite. This contains resources such as skeletons, models, computers, microscopes and textbooks that aid medical learning. In addition to having access to the excellent resources within the Evelyn Suite, all pre-clinical students are provided with personal copies of the core textbooks for each of the subjects studied in the first two years.
Medical students need to meet the University's pre-medical requirements.
Candidates who satisfy the above minimum requirements and impress at interview can expect to receive a conditional offer. The typical A Level offer for Medicine is A*A*A in three science or maths subjects. The typical IB offer is 40-42 points with 776 at Higher Level. A Level (or equivalent) Chemistry is required, and it is usual for Fitzwilliam College to specify that one A* grade should be in Chemistry.
Depending on individual circumstances, candidates with two science or maths subjects may be considered if one of those subjects is Chemistry.
It should be noted that as part of the admissions procedure for Medicine there will be a written test, the Bio-Medical Admissions Test (BMAT). The BMAT will normally be taken in the candidate's school, and is administered by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).
During the first year everyone takes anatomy, biochemistry and physiology and sits an examination (Part 1A of the Medical and Veterinary Science Tripos, MVST) in these subjects at the end of the academic year. In addition to these courses, medical students take a course in Medical Sociology which is the subject of short examination at the end of the Lent (spring) term.
In the second year medical students study reproductive biology, neuro-biology, pathology and pharmacology. These courses end two thirds of the way through the second year. For the remaining period of second year, the medics have a wide range of optional courses in specific subjects. The optional courses will allow students to prepare themselves for the third year Part II courses which give students the chance to pursue their own intellectual interests in a wide range of subjects, an opportunity that is not open to students at most medical schools.
In the third year a wide variety of courses are available from the Part II Natural Science Tripos including anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, plant sciences, pharmacology, physiology and zoology.
The lectures and practicals in all subjects are organised by the University departments and held in the Faculty buildings in the centre of Cambridge. The university teaching sessions are supplemented by weekly 'supervisions' in each of the major subjects. Supervisions will involve groups of three to four students. The supervisions are usually provided by a Fellow or Bye-Fellow of Fitzwilliam.
Medical students in their third pre-clinical year have to re-apply for a place at a clinical medical school. They are guaranteed a place somewhere but whether they get into their first choice depends on their academic record in the first two years at Cambridge. Most apply for a place at Cambridge, Oxford or one of the London teaching hospitals through a scheme administered by the School of Clinical Medicine in Cambridge. Over 80% of students with a satisfactory record, including passes in all Second MB subjects secure a place in the school which is their first choice. Students who stay at Cambridge will embark on course that is taught in three stages: Stage 1: Clinical Method, Stage 2: The Life Course, Stage 3: Preparation for Practice.
More information on the clinical course can be found at the School of Clinical Medicine.
Directors of Studies
Dr Robert Abayasekara, Director of Studies in Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, Supervisor in Physiology.