On topic: a new medical school for the University of Sunderland

July 19, 2019

This summer, the University of Sunderland is preparing to open the doors to its new School of Medicine. In a watershed moment for the university, the city – and the North East – the new school welcomes its first intake of future doctors in September

It was in March last year the Government announced that Sunderland was one of five places across the country granted permission to open a new medical school. The decision fitted perfectly with the university’s ongoing commitment to improving patient care through its teaching and research across subjects including pharmacy, nursing, paramedic practice, biomedical science and now medicine.

With state-of-the-art facilities already in place and dedicated partnerships with the region’s NHS trusts, the opening of the medical school will allow the university to ultimately offer 360° healthcare via its graduating students.

As well as offering the opportunity to study medicine to students with the required talent and capability, the school will be well-placed to address the region’s chronic shortage of doctors.

When they graduate, the school’s doctors will be excellent clinicians, qualified to move into any medical speciality, although it’s anticipated that around half of the doctors who graduate will move into general practice.

This is not just a significant achievement for the university; Sunderland having its own medical school will also provide a huge boost to the region as a whole, with thousands of NHS patients set to benefit. There is also significant evidence that doctors tend to remain in the areas they train in, so hopes are high that North East-trained doctors will be caring for patients in the region for many years to come.

The school will have an initial cohort of 50 medical students joining this September, after which the university will accept 100 medical students every year.

The University of Sunderland already has strong health connections, including partnerships with four hospital trusts, two mental health trusts, community services and 63 GP practices.

Professor Scott Wilkes, head of School of Medicine and professor of general practice and primary care at Sunderland, says: “Our approach is to recruit those with the talent and capacity to become doctors. Part of the reason why we were named as one of the five new medical schools is our commitment to inclusivity when attracting medical students and training them to become doctors; we will do this by using our breadth of expertise in attracting students from all backgrounds.

“Our programme will incorporate multi-professional learning and extensive exposure to real-life clinical settings through our simulation suites located at our state-of-the-art Living Lab. This is similar to that of our partner Keele University, who we will be working with to build our experience and knowledge. Keele is ranked top in the country for their outturn into general practice.”

“Talent is everywhere, but opportunity isn’t. We are trying to break into the areas where talent exists and what more dramatic way to do it than by offering outstanding students the chance to study medicine?” – Sir David Bell, vice chancellor of the University of Sunderland

“It’s exciting. I know where these students are coming from. Here I get the chance to be involved from the beginning, to help shape and create; to give something back to the area where I came from.” – Debs Patten, professor of anatomy at the new School of Medicine

“Encouraging students from a similar background to my own and giving them an opportunity to study medicine really inspired me, I want to ensure they get the best support throughout the process.” – Dr Andy Davies, undergraduate programme lead at the new School of Medicine

University of Sunderland

The University of Sunderland welcomes all with talent into higher education and supports them in reaching their potential.
The university has 20,000 students based at campuses in Sunderland, London and Hong Kong, as well as with global learning partnerships in 14 countries.

Working to shape the city and region, the University of Sunderland is proud of its positive contribution to economic and social change; its graduates leave equipped with the knowledge, skills, confidence and connections to make a positive difference in the wider world. For more information, visit: www.sunderland.ac.uk

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