Published on: 1 October 2021

The first group of students to join the new School of Medicine at the University of Sunderland are putting their skills to the test as they start caring for patients at hospitals in South Tyneside and Sunderland.

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust closely supported the university in their bid to establish the new medical school to help train the next generation of doctors locally.

The 48 students who have already completed their first two years of study have now started their placements with the Trust.

They are the inaugural students to reach the third year of the five-year course and have already made visits to a series of clinical areas and spent an intensive week working in the Simulation Laboratory at South Tyneside District Hospital.

Between now and April they will spend four weeks at a time working in medicine, surgery, older person’s care, mental health and paediatrics before moving to specialist clinics and departments.

Dr Shaz Wahid, Medical Director and Consultant Physician in Diabetes and Endocrinology at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, was among the senior leaders on hand to welcome the students as they began their placement.

He said: "This is a milestone day and we are so proud to welcome them to the Trust and support these students as they take their first steps in learning how to treat patients with the guidance of our excellent teams.

"Our Trust has a strong history of developing students, myself included. Now, more than ever, we need our medical students to support our frontline teams and take their next important steps towards a rewarding career in medicine.

"During their time with us, the students will see the innovative and often world-leading work we are doing here and we hope they will look to join us once they have graduated, investing their studies into caring for our patients for many years to come."

Ashley Powell, the Trust’s Clinical Nurse Lecturer, said: “We are so excited to welcome our students. Everyone has been incredibly supportive.

“We have had lots of interest from different clinicians who want to help by teaching some sessions and share their experience. I want to thank all of the teaching team and clinicians who have got involved so far for their support.”

The students’ time with the Trust is backed by a team of three teaching fellows and a number of consultants led by Dr Mark Shipley, a Consultant Respiratory Physician and the Trust’s Director of Undergraduate Clinical Studies and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer.

Professor Scott Wilkes is the university’s Head of School of Medicine and Professor of General Practice and Primary Care.

He said: “This is truly a momentous time for our new medical school as we support our first cohort of medical students to experience life in a busy hospital.

“I’m truly excited that our students will be among my colleagues and role models, who will be teaching them and ultimately will be their colleagues before you know it.”

The university launched its medical school in 2019 with the support of the Trust and was one of five new medical schools to be given Government backing in 2018.

It was founded with the guidance of Keele University’s School of Medicine and is one of 33 across the UK and the second in the North East.

It was set up to tackle the region’s shortage of doctors, develop home-grown talent and raise the number of under-represented groups in the profession.

The current cohort of 99 second year medical students are working towards their third year, with similar numbers thereafter.