Medical school

From Academic Kids

Medical school generally refers to a tertiary educational institution (or part of such an institution) which is involved in the education of future medical practitioners (medical doctors). Faculty of medicine is a term used in many parts of the world (such as in Australia and the United Kingdom) to describe the division of a tertiary instituion involved in such teaching.

The entry criteria, structure, teaching methodology and nature of medical programs offered at medical schools vary considerably around the world.


Medical students

A person accepted into a medical school and undertaking an educational program in medicine towards becoming a medical doctor is referred to as a medical student. Medical students are generally considered to be at the earliest stage of the medical career pathway.

Medical students typically undertake both theoretical studies and practical experience during their course, with the earlier years devoted more to the former, and the later year more focused on the latter.


Various models of medical education exist in Australia. Undergraduate-entry program typically last 5-6 years, and permit entry from secondary school matriculation. Graduate medical programs typically last 4-4.5 years, and require the entrant to have attained a previous bachelor degree qualification at a certain level of achievement, in addition to aptitude tests and interviews.

In early years, theoretical domains of study predominate, with increasing clinical focus during the program. However, early clinical exposure--in which students commence clinical skills from very early in the course, concurrently with theoretical study--is a component of many degrees, most notably the graduate medical programs.

Depending on the program undertaken, students graduate as Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery (MB BS), or similar appellation, in addition to other degrees attained during study.

United Kingdom

See main article: UK Medical School

United States & Canada

In the United States and Canada, a medical school is most often a four year institution with the purpose of educating doctors in the fields of allopathic or osteopathic medicine. Medical students begin study after receiving a bachelor's degree in another field of study. Most commonly, the bachelor's degree is in one of the biological sciences, but this is not necessarily so; in 2003, nearly 40% of medical school matriculants had received bachelor's degrees in fields other than biology or specialized health sciences [1] ( Medical students are referred to as M1, M2, M3, and M4, according to their year of study in a standard four-year curriculum. These years are divided generally into preclinical study in the M1 and M2 years and clinical study in the M3 and M4 years. Following satisfactory completion of medical school, most graduates are awarded either a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.).

The Netherlands & Belgium

In the Netherlands and Belgium, medical students receive respectively a 6 and 7 years of university education prior to their graduation.

In the Netherlands students receive four years of the preclinical training, followed by two years of clinical training in hospitals of their own choice. After 6 years students graduate as basisarts (comparable with Doctor of Medicine), which in accordance with the Bologna process is comparable with a master's degree qualification. All medical students are permit entry from the highest level of secondary school: VWO, the entrant is not required to have a previous bachelor's degrees qualification.

The Belgian medical education is much more based on theoretical knowledge, whereas in the Netherlands medical education is focused more on skill than theoretical knowledge. In Belgium the first three years of education lead up to a bachelor's degree, followed by a four year master's program.

Hong Kong

The medical education in Hong Kong follows that of the British system. There are currently two medical schools/faculties in Hong Kong, namely, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong. Together, these 2 universities produce 280 medical graduates a year (after a recent cut down). Medical eduation takes five years with an additional internship year. At the end of five years, the dual degree "Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB - CUHK / MBBS - HKU) will be awarded. Graduates are then required to fullfill a year of internship training before registrating with the Mecical Council of Hong Kong (

The University of Hong Kong has adopted the new "Problem Based Learning" (PBL) curriculum in 1997. The Chinese University has started a radical reform of its curriculum in 2000 and the transistion has been completed in 2005 when the last bench of the old curriculum has graduated. Both Universities' curriculum emphasise early clinical contact, evidence based medicine and life-long learning ability. Students in the Chinese University of Hong Kong can embark on an optional intercalated degree in Medical Science - after two years of study. While those in the University of Hong Kong can undertake a Intercalated Master of Research degree, which also takes an additional year of study.


In Germany, admission to medical schools is organized by a central organization. Most important criterion for admission is the GPA of the Abitur (diploma of the secondary school). After 2 years of preclinical studies and 4 years of clinical studies, the students graduate as general practitioners. Writing a thesis to obtain a MD degree is facultative.

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