Published on: 22 January 2020

Students from the University of Sunderland’s new school of medicine had their first taste of life as doctors when they visited South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Half of the 50-strong first cohort of students, who began their five-year journey towards a degree in medicine in September last year, met with staff and patients -  some at South Tyneside District Hospital and some at Sunderland Royal Hospital. They visited various departments, including Gastroenterology, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Rheumatology, and Ear, Nose and Throat.

Dr Mark Shipley, Consultant Respiratory Physician at South Tyneside District Hospital and Director of Undergraduate Clinical Studies for the school of medicine, and Dr Andy Davies, Consultant in Elderly Medicine at Sunderland Royal Hospital and Undergraduate Programme Lead at the University of Sunderland, gave introductory talks before the students were given tours of the hospitals. Consultants then took them to clinical areas to meet patients. 

Dr Shipley said: “This is a milestone in their degree for these students and a special moment they will probably remember all their lives. They have been learning about clinical and communication skills but this was the first time they were able to experience a little of what their job will entail and, very importantly, talk to patients like those upon whose lives they will eventually have an impact.

“Hopefully, this initial look at what we can offer in terms of career development in often world-leading services will sow the seeds for them choosing to join us at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust after their degree. Our Trust has a strong ethos of doing all we can to support students throughout their training and medical careers and I’d like to thank the consultants who volunteered to introduce the first-year students from the school of medicine to what it is like working in a hospital.” 

In March 2018, Sunderland was one of five universities given government approval to open a medical school. The institution was founded with the guidance and expertise of Keele University’s school of medicine. One of 33 in the UK, Sunderland’s is only the second to open in the North East. In opening the school of medicine, the university hopes to tackle the region's shortage of doctors, boost the number of under-represented groups in the profession and develop home-grown talent.

Professor Scott Wilkes, Head of the School of Medicine said: “This is a momentous time for the students and staff of our local hospital trust. This will be the student’s first experience of what it’s all about in one the regions premiere teaching hospital trusts and many students I’m sure will be inspired to pursue a career in the City or wider region.”