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Medical school

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 with a Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery (MB BS), or similar appellation, in addition to other degrees attained during study.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, medical students receive 2-3 years of degree-level preclinical training, followed by clinical experience at a teaching hospital for an additional 2-3 years. After successful completion of clinical training they graduate as Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery, usually abbreviated as 'MB BS', 'BM BCh' or 'MB ChB'.

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

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Last updated: 02-05-2005 17:10:06
Last updated: 02-28-2005 11:21:10