School of Medicine at University of Sunderland welcomes its first medical students on their journey to become doctors

Doctors of the future are beginning their studies in Sunderland today as the first cohort of medical students start at the city’s new School of Medicine.

Monday, 16th September 2019, 6:00 am

The University of Sunderland welcomed 50 students to its new facility in what has been described as a watershed moment for the city and the North East.

The state-of-the-art facilities already in place and dedicated partnerships with the region’s NHS trusts will see the scholars learn all aspects of their future profession.

The university already offers paramedic training, nursing and pharmacy courses, meaning 2,000 health professionals of the future will go through its doors in 2019/20.

Sunderland's School of Medicine opens today

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It is hoped the school will help address the region’s chronic shortage of doctors.

Sir David Bell, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of the university, said: “I’m delighted to be welcoming our first cohort of students to the Sunderland School of Medicine.

“It is an exciting time for the women and men involved as they embark on the demanding journey to become a doctor.

“Offering a medical degree is further demonstration of the crucially important work done at, and by, the University of Sunderland. We now have a full suite of health-related disciplines which, this year, will be educating more than 2,000 future professionals. All of them will have a positive and powerful effect on the health of the city and the wider region.”

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners visits the School of Medicine at Sunderland University pictured with Prof Tony Alabaster, Academic Dean of the Faculty of Health and Sciences and Wellbeing, Prof Scott Wilkes, Head of the School of Medicine and Prof of Anatomy Debs Patten Picture: DAVID WOOD

In March 2018 the Government announced that Sunderland was one of five places across the country granted permission to open a new medical school.

Sir David said the decision fitted perfectly with the university’s ongoing commitment to improving patient care through its teaching and research across subjects including pharmacy, nursing, paramedic practice, biomedical science and now medicine.

Laura Giles, 19, from Sunderland, who attended sixth form at nearby Southmoor Academy, is one of those beginning her medical training today.

She said: “No one in my family has had a career in medicine, or health care for that matter, I’m the first.

Prof Scott Wilkes, Head of the School of Medicine at Sunderland University Picture: David Wood

“I’m so excited to get started I never thought that one day I would be going to medical school, so this is a dream come true.”

Professor Scott Wilkes, Head of School of Medicine and Professor of General Practice and Primary Care at Sunderland, said: “We are delighted to welcome our first medical students here today and we look forward to guiding and supporting them through the many exciting years of learning they have ahead.

“Part of the reason why we were named as one of the five new medical schools is our commitment to inclusivity when attracting medical students and training them to become doctors.

“We have achieved our target by using our breadth of expertise in attracting students from all backgrounds.

Sunderland University School of Medicine student Laura Giles Picture: DAVID WOOD

“We initially set ourselves the aim of attracting 15% of students from a widening participation background. We have actually achieved the figure of 25%.

“Our programme will incorporate inter-professional learning, early clinical exposure in Year 1 as well as lab based and clinical simulation teaching in our state-of-the-art facilities. We are extremely fortunate to be guided through this process by the team at our partner medical school at Keele University, who we will be working with to build our experience and knowledge.”.

Ken Bremner, Chief Executive of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The School gives us an opportunity to develop our own home-grown talent and provide equal opportunities for people of all backgrounds to study medicine.

“The Trust has a strong working relationship with the university and, alongside our regional NHS partners, we will do all we can to support students throughout their training and medical careers to ensure that we continue to build outstanding healthcare services for local people for years to come.

“We are proud to have been involved in the development of the medical school, I would like to congratulate everyone involved on this fantastic achievement and wish the first cohort of students the very best in their future studies.”

School of Medicine