Success in medicine requires application and hard work, both while studying and when in practice. However, it brings great rewards in terms of job satisfaction, involving as it does a combination of science and human interactions, and numerous career opportunities.
At Cambridge, you study the medical sciences first, before learning to apply that knowledge to medical practice as a clinical student. The first three years (pre-clinical studies) are taught through lectures, practical classes (including dissections) and supervisions, with typically 20-25 timetabled teaching hours each week.
The emphasis during the clinical studies (Years 4, 5 and 6) in Cambridge is on learning in clinical settings: at the bedside, in outpatient clinics and in GP surgeries, which is supported by seminars, tutorials and discussion groups.
In the first year (Part IA) students attend courses in: Functional Architecture of the Body; Homeostasis, Histology, and Molecules in Molecular Science - containing core material previously taught as Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry. There are also two shorter courses covering Medical Sociology, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics. These courses are examined at the end of the Lent Term, and are a Second MB (for an explanation of this see below) requirement, but these scores do not contribute to the level of attainment in Tripos (i.e. the Class of Degree you achieve). Clinical experience starts in the first term with Preparing for Patients (PfP A), when students are allocated patients to see in an attached GP surgery, under the tutelage of an experienced Clinical Teacher.
In the second year (Part IB) students study courses in: Biology of Disease (Pathology); Neurobiology with Human Behaviour (which includes Head and Neck Anatomy and Neuroanatomy); Human Reproduction, and Mechanisms of Drug Actions (Pharmacology). Clinical teaching (Preparing for Patients) continues with students seeing patients in a hospital setting. PfP C involves visiting community-based health-related agencies in the Long Vacation between second and third years.
In the third year (Part II) students can choose from a number of Specialist Part II subjects drawn from Natural Sciences, or Medical or Biomedical specialities. PfP D (Continuity of Care) is a longitudinal study undertaken throughout the year.
Following the successful completion of their third year of the tripos (BA), students remain in Cambridge for three more years to complete their Clinical Studies (MB, BChir). More details about Clinical Medical Studies are available on the Clinical School website.
Second M.B. exemptions
In order to be registered as a Medical Practitioner candidates must satisfy the requirements laid down by the General Medical Council via the various Royal Colleges in the form of examinations for the Second M.B. The Tripos Examination will contain an element which will determine Second M.B. qualification. Students who fail to achieve exemption will be required to sit the Second M.B exams which take place towards the end of September. Students who fail to pass the 2nd M.B. at the second attempt will not be allowed to proceed to the next year.
Magdalene aims to make ten offers in Medicine each year. We offer places to applicants of all nationalities, and from all types of educational background. Around 50% of our Medical Students are female.
Magdalene has four Governing Body Fellows in Medicine and a number of other senior members (Fellows and College Lecturers) in the subject. Personal contact with senior members occurs informally through supervisions, and supervisors are generally available to answer queries. The Director of Studies is available for consultation on academic matters. Your Tutor usually deals with matters of a non-academic nature such as social, financial or psychological problems. The ethos of the College is, however, that should someone need assistance it's provided - so if you need it, don’t hesitate to ask for it.
The College Library is open 24 hours a day. There is a substantial Medical Section which contains copies of all the recommended texts for the University courses, and most departments have their own well-stocked specialist libraries which are at your disposal. The College Librarian is always willing to consider purchasing any additional texts students think desirable (with the support of their Director of Studies). Additionally there are large central libraries such as the University Library, the Clinical School Library and the Scientific Periodicals Library.
We have a family of skeletons (in fact, half skeletons) which are loaned to first year students (second years have the skull and vertebral column) in order to help them master the intricacies of Anatomy, which we think is crucial if you're going to be a member of the Medical Profession. It is the responsibility of the student to care for their skeleton, and to return them intact at the end of the year.
Magdalene cannot accept applications for the Graduate Course in Medicine or for admission to the Standard Course as an affiliated student (i.e. those wanting to study medicine as a second degree).
We welcome people with a broad range of knowledge to medicine. However, potential medical students will need to be aware that there is a considerable amount of science in medicine (bearing in mind that the course is designated the Medical Sciences Tripos), and that we must require students to have appropriate qualifications. All medicine applicants will need to be studying Mathematics, Chemistry, and at least one of Biology or Physics to A-level or equivalent.
The minimum requirements for entry into Magdalene to study Medicine are A-level Mathematics, and A-level Chemistry, plus at least one more A-level in either Biology or Physics. It is highly desirable for a third science to be taken at AS Level or higher.
For applicants studying the IB, we require either Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology at Higher Level, or Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics at Higher Level (though in this case we would advise some reading of suitable Biology texts).
Our typical offer is A*A*A in three maths and science subjects at A-level, or 42 in the IB with 7,7,6 or 7,7,7 at Higher Level.
Interviews and BMAT (Bio Medical Admissions Test)
Applicants called for interview will have two interviews, conducted (usually) by the Directors of Studies in Medicine and College Fellows specialising in Medicine. The interviews last about 30 minutes, and should be regarded more as a discussion around various topics rather than as an interrogation. It's our aim to make the interview as friendly as possible. It's difficult to learn much about people who are frightened, so we try our best to put them at ease.
All applicants for medicine at Cambridge are also asked to sit the Bio Medical Admissions Test. The aim of this is not to place an extra hurdle in the applicants' path, but to try and acquire another objective way of assessing potential students so that all colleges and tutors are working from the same baseline. We're trying to make the process as fair as possible. Details of the BMAT are available on the Admissions Testing Service web site, which also has a page allowing you to download a specimen paper.