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The Medical University of Silesia (SUM) is located in Katowice, an emerging metropolitan city in the southern region of Poland. The university has been running its English Division programme since 1996 and educates international students through the graduate entry led 4-year American MD structure. Studying in Poland provides the opportunity to save on living costs whilst also allowing you to travel and explore Poland. As the degree is recognised by the GMC, you will be eligible for applying to the UK Foundation Programme should you wish to do so.
Year 1: First year medical students experience a varied and diverse timetable with each week comprising of lectures, seminars and small group-work teaching to help tackle their learning from every perspective. Students have the opportunity to learn anatomy, physiology, histology and biochemistry in great depth as dissection rooms and teaching labs have extensive opening hours. There are introductory clinical classes whereby students are exposed to patients and are able to appreciate the basics of clinical management. Polish classes are also provided to students to enable them to learn the basics of the language and aid them in settling into the country. The first year allows students to become accustomed with Poland and the foundations of medicine, whilst keeping them on their toes with frequent assessments.
Year 2: Year two strengthens student’s understanding of pre-clinical medical sciences whilst aiding the transition to clinical sciences. Modules such as Pathology, Pharmacology and Pathophysiology allow students to apply their knowledge from basic sciences to understanding key clinical concepts and in great depth. More time is spent in hospital in the second year as students begin to grasp key clinical skills during their Physical Examination and Clinical Analysis modules. By the end of the second year, should students wish to sit the USMLE exam for hospital rotations in the US they can then apply for this.
Rotations, or placements, can be carried out in Poland or with an international hospital which is officially affiliated with the university, including several hospitals in the US.
Year 3: From third year onwards students are exposed to full clinical placement 5 days a week. Placements are carried out in internal medicine, surgery, paediatrics and obstetrics and gynaecology covering the vast array of specialties. Each module is concluded by an examination allowing students to be periodically tested. The focus of theoretical learning switches from primarily lecture-based to self-directed learning. Although there are lectures almost everyday, the amount of learning students are expected to do on their own does increase from the second year.
Year 4: The final year builds upon the knowledge and skill base acquired from third year as students gain experience in psychiatry, family practice, paediatrics and electives. Students who remained in Poland have the option to carry out electives in any other hospital - of which many students decide to carry out in the UK. It is at this point, for students transitioning back to the UK, undergo the application process for the UK Foundation programme and begin to sit exams such as the SJT.
The entrance exam - an oral examination with set discussion topics from biology, chemistry and physics as well as a discussion of the students’ motives. Presenting oneself as determined but also friendly and empathetic will enable you to succeed in the examination.
Polish medical universities - before applying, be sure to compare with other universities to make an informed decision as to which university best suits you. It can be fair to assume that universities have a one-size-fits-all approach, however be sure to research student satisfaction rates and to visit the universities if possible to best decide which programmes, campuses and cities are akin to your preferences, budget and style of learning.
-by Faraaz Ahmed, currently a medical student at MUS in Katowice, Poland