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To All North Americans in Irish Schools

Discussion in 'UK & Ireland' started by bigchoader, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. bigchoader

    bigchoader Guest

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    To consolidate the most important questions of all pertaining to those North Americans (NAans) who are attending a medical college in Ireland please answer the following wuestions and any that may follow:

    Why Ireland? Why did American Allo. not work for you? (If you are Canadian, I know how hard your schools are to get in to but your answers as to why not USA are just as welcome.)

    Speaking about money: Like I said I have no huge trust fund to dip into but my family will be paying for all of schooling. Which schools did the NAns consider most affordabe I(education for your buck)? Which ones were worth the extra penny? Which ones are not worth the money that they charge?

    And finally, does anyone have any differentiating facts about schools in Ireland? At this point I am almost clueless as to differences between schools in Ireland)? Teaching strategy, experience, and otherwise.

    Please advise.
    All advice is invited.
     
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  3. leorl

    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    I spent an erasmus year at Trinity and knew that US school wouldn't be for me. I liked the culture in Ireland, the type of people here, the fact that you could have a life and study medicine as well. I'm happy with my choice. Medicine is a humbling experience everywhere and it is what you make of it. The type of people who go to med school in the US didn't really create an environment that I wanted to be a part of. Also, the medical education system seems to really bring people down and might not have facilitated the best learning environment for me. So essentially, based on my junior year abroad at Trinity where I probably had more fun and made more friends than in my entire college life, I decided to go back for med school.

    That doesn't mean that I don't have my regrets, but I am happy with my decision. Having said that, I'm not the best student and haven't spent oodles of time studying, but I'm gettin by alright.

    Money..basically, all but RCSI were affordable. I don't know how it is now since inflation and the exchange rate have made it less money-saving to come here, but RCSI is like 10 grand more than the other schools. However, I have heard that they are quite organized and technology seems to be very good/modern (especially in their 4 yr. grad entry program). I'm not sure it justitfies a 10 grand hike though. someone else could probably elucidate.

    Teaching strategy...i don't know. Each school probably has a myriad things they could do better. However, I think nearly every school in the US would too. The Irish aren't as efficient as Americans, it's a location thing. So it's something you'll have to get used to....it can have quite frustrating results. Some courses seem like you teaching yourself the whole thing....but since learning has to come from yourself anyway, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
     
  4. docolive

    docolive DOColive

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    This is a good thread. Thank you for the questions posed, and thanks to Leori for the feedback. I guess that studying abroad at Trinity brought more solidity to your decision to study medicine abroad.

    For some of us, it still seems like a leap of faith. What about family, Leori??? Did you miss your parents; did they come visit you during your first years at Trinity???
    My father is supportive of studying medicine in Ireland for many reasons, one of which is his hope to retire within the next 5 years in Europe...

    Anyhow, life is complicated, and I believe that whatever is meant for us will eventually work itself out, with maximum effort on our part of course.
     
  5. Yeah, I'm a bit worried about the family issue too. My parents are supportive, although they'd rather have me here (obviously). My sister lived in Ireland and England for a while, so she's very excited for me to go. My girlfriend is the only person I'm worried about. She supports my decision to go (assuming I get accepted :luck: ), but she is very worried about us breaking up while I'm over there, which makes me worried. :p

    I totally agree with the last section of your post, DOColive:

    :thumbup: Well said.
     
  6. leorl

    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    i'm a little different in that familial support isn't exactly forthcoming. They are supportive in the fact that they wanted me to be a doctor so I think they're happy that they'll have a doctor in the family. And financially, they have been supportive. But if you're asking whether I miss them or whether I miss home in general...no. My relationship with them isn't close, and by the end of finishing college I was dying to escape. I know that sounds really negative, but I didn't attend a college which I wanted to attend :), and part of the reason I love Trinity so much is that nearly everyone at Trinity loves it (although the enthusiasm might wane by final year). How I explained the Ireland thing was I just basically said I was going and that was the end of that. I didn't really ask for an opinion - If they wanted to have a doctor in the family, they were going to have to let me go to a place I would be happy.
    Same with my sister....she's now in Australia (not doing medicine though)

    Although I can't say anything about your relationship, there have been several long-distance relationships in medical students here. I always wonder how they do it, but it has been done before. And several sets of students are getting married to their long-timers :).
     
  7. leorl

    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    oh yeah doc olive, good attitude. That's the kind of attitude that works over here. But maximal effort...will be maximal ;).
     
  8. bigchoader

    bigchoader Guest

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    A number of very smart, successful individuals have given me this exact advice when talking about my indecisivness. Often times I have found I put way to much energy into making a decision, so much so that I actually miss what is going on around me. I have been told that if I have these options, all of which will work fine, just choose one and leave it at that. It's very liberating to just make a decision and leave it at that. Stop worrying about who I may offend, who I may make happy, and every little nit picky problem I may find in either choice, because perfection is impossible. It's to bad I don't take this advice in this situation as I have been grappling with this idea of Irish Medical colleges for well over a half a year.
     
  9. Unch

    Unch Member

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    Once I had an acceptance, I had scarcely any time to wrestle with the decision to matriculate (like many, I threw in applications without really entertaining the reality at first). But now that I'm here (finishing second year), I don't think we're questioning our decision at all. (I have my family here with me...my wife and children). It's not like everything's obvious and we all have crises of faith (mine are finally tailing off now) but the only ones I've met in Ireland with regrets are those with pessimistic attitudes in general. It's great if you make it great and if you really have a passion for pursuing medicine.

    As for the severing of ties and being far from family, well... it's an amazing opportunity to push your boundaries and experience a different culture by actually living there. What's not to like (if you like that sort of thing)? And as for home, it'll still be there in five years, believe it or not. And you can be back in NAmerica every summer etc and the time goes fast anyway. The overseas thing isn't for everyone but it's not as risky and radical as some make it out to be. Scary at first? Sure but what that's worthwhile isn't?
     
  10. docolive

    docolive DOColive

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    thanks to leori, mcduck and bigchoader for the commentary. It is a tough decision regardless--but eventually you have to jump into the pool. As NA's, I think we like to hammer out the details to the point of insanity....we were built that way. Sometimes I wish my family dynamic would have been different---like having a sibling to weed off the excess attention placed on an only child. Anyhow, I am certain that many students in Ireland or even the Carib schools are going through the same thing..
     
  11. docolive

    docolive DOColive

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    And as for home, it'll still be there in five years, believe it or not. And you can be back in NAmerica every summer etc and the time goes fast anyway. The overseas thing isn't for everyone but it's not as risky and radical as some make it out to be. Scary at first? Sure but what that's worthwhile isn't?[/QUOTE]

    True, true, true. that's fantastic that you are with your loved ones. For those of us who MIGHT be coming solo, I wonder what sorts of clubs (at UCD, UCC, RCSI and Trinity) students can join?? I am thinking that getting involved in EC's is very beneficial to the newbies.
     
  12. UCD has a ton of clubs. If you go to their website and look under sports and societies, there is a giant list. They have a snowsports club that takes a trip to the Alps every year. :thumbup: They also have a med soc club that has a few events every year.
     
  13. docolive

    docolive DOColive

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    Good to know...will make sure to look.
     
  14. bigchoader

    bigchoader Guest

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    Some issues that have been somewhat unspiken of as of yet in this thread are money and teaching strategies.

    Could someone (probably Leorl) give any insight as to what schools offer what kinds of teaching. I am not that knowledgable about the entire array of offerings, but I think that in NA you have Problem based learning, and lecture/text(?) based learing. The former being a very independant learning and the latter being more similar to undergrad learning. Does anyone know about how things are done in over in Ireland.

    Also, is there some schools there any schools you would say are not worth the money. Are there any schools you would say are a big bang for your buck?

    Keep it coming.
     
  15. LavenderLoraine

    LavenderLoraine Admiring the flowers

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    I am a 2nd med at the RCSI, from the US. I post once in a great while but I felt compelled to answer some of your questions because I had the same ones at your stage and couldn't get much info. The reason I first became interested in the school was because an assistant dean at a medical school (where I worked in a laboratory) in my state went to medical school in Ireland. Otherwise I would never have thought of it to be honest! Anyway, we were talking one day and he told me to consider an Irish school because the clinical and diagnostic skills training is excellent (and better in his opinion than most US schools including the one he where he was dean). The thought of developing my own clinical skills to diagnose, rather than relying on technology as the US system often does, appealed to me very much. I applied to the RCSI at his suggestion but did not apply to any of the other Irish med schools. So far I can say with a straight face that I don't regret my decision to attend in the least.

    Now, on to teaching style. Let me first say that they have restructured the curriculum for our year, so we are the proverbial guinea pigs. Also, I am a college grad but in the 5 year program (they didn't start offering the graduate entry until the year after I began) so keep in mind this is how it is for my program. Anyway teaching is a combination of lecture with some infused PBL in the form of cases that correlate with the system you are learning about. In addition, they have changed the course to begin clinical skills teaching from Day 1. So you begin learning right away how to take a history, and also how to do examinations for the different systems. You will need a stethoscope for the 2nd semester of your first year because that is when you learn to take blood pressure, ausculate the heart, breath, bowel sounds, do cardiac/respiratory exam, etc. And it is all sort of introductory so that by the time you get to the 2nd semester of your 2nd year, you don't feel too overwhelmed (more on this later!). Your first OSCE is at the end of your first year and you basically take a history at one station, do some sort of systems exam at the second station, and the other station is patient communication where you basically talk to the person about their concerns, anxieties, etc. These are all simulated patients by the way. Clinical skills teaching is about once a week every week.

    As far as the other classes go, there are some strengths and weaknesses depending on the subject. In general I would say that the biochemistry and embryology teaching are lacking, and if you plan to go back to the US you will have to supplement these subjects on your own for Step I study. The anatomy is excellent and unsurpassed. It consists of both prosection and dissection and your teachers are mostly former and current surgeons but also PhDs. As an aside, the RCSI is responsible for the training of Ireland's surgeons. So there are some perks in attending the school if you are interested in surgery. The surgical society here is very active and they plan special sessions students can attend to learn suturing and hand-knotting skills (taught by surgeons), as well as spend a little bit of time in the laproscopy teaching area (which is a multi-million euro teaching lab and usually reserved for the surgeons-in-training here).
     
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  17. LavenderLoraine

    LavenderLoraine Admiring the flowers

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    I had to send that or was I was afraid I'd lose all that typing! So we spent the first semester of our 2nd med year still at the college and learning neuroscience and neuroanatomy. It was the same sort of thing as the first year as far as having lecture with a bit of PBL, and time in the anatomy room. The clinical skills teaching was stepped-up a bit, and they started to video-tape us taking histories so we could see ourselves and understand better the things we needed to work on and the things we were doing well. Learning the neuro examinations was pretty cool. We had another OSCE at the end of this semester as well but it covered all of the clinical skills material learned since 1st semester of 1st med.

    So now I am in my 2nd semester of 2nd med. At this point, all of our classes are now out at Beaumont Hospital. The microbiology and pathology lectures are taught by both clinicians and non-clinicians. Same goes for the labs, tutorials, and cases for these classes. The best part about being at Beaumont now is the clinical medicine and clinical skills teaching because of its relevance. The clinical medicine lectures are taught by physicians at Beaumont. The professor of surgery lectures to us about once a week or so, and these are very enjoyable lectures (except when he calls on you to answer a question, can be intimidating) because he always brings down a patient from the wards for us to see and ask questions of. For example, we had a lecture on incisional hernias and he brought down a patient to show us what one looks like. Another time we saw a patient who had just had an appendectomy and another who was an amputee. Seeing these patients is very motivating and interesting because this is why we became doctors in the first place! The rest of the clinical skills teaching consists of ward tutorials (groups of about 12 with one physican and a simulated patient where you auscultate more heart and valve sounds, etc.), clinical skills tutorials, and clinical investigations (where you learn what tests are out there and what they are used for). You have each of these once a week. And then finally you have clinical observations, where you are assigned to a different part of the hospital (for instance dialysis unit, surgery, ECHO lab, etc.) and you observe for a couple hours. So as you can see, we are totally submerged in clinical skills learning at this stage. It's definitely something to look forward to after the 1st year and half! And as I was saying earlier, they started introducing basic history taking and exam skills from the very beginning. Now that things are more intense here at the hospital (and you start to realise how much you have to learn to be considered competent) it is less overwhelming than I'd imagine it would be if you hadn't been exposed at all. And for the years above mine, I've been told that they would've just begun to learn how to take a history at this point. That's part of the curriculum change.
     
  18. LavenderLoraine

    LavenderLoraine Admiring the flowers

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    Last part, I really gotta do some micro and path study today!

    So now I'd like to touch on the value-for-money question. School in Ireland is expensive, no doubt about it. I believe that the RCSI is more expensive than the rest. I've been told by classmates that the RCSI is considered private and so it gets less funding from the government than the other med schools, therefore they charge more. Don't know if this is definitely the case because I've never read anything about it, so take it with a grain of salt.

    Having said I don't know why it costs more than the others, I can say that I see where some of the money goes. Construction has begun on the new building next to the college that will house more research labs, a new gym, student area, and I don't know what else. The college has spent loads of money on the virtual learning environment, an online program that houses forums, our class notes, lecture videos, housing info, etc. Technology investment seems to be number one at this college. Everything is wireless. The surgical training office is housed in the new pharmacy building containing state-of-the-art surgical training instrumentation. I forgot to mention that at Beaumont, we attended surgical grand rounds one Thursday, and all of the RCSI teaching hospitals participated linked by video conference. Our laptops are also wrapped-up in the extra cost I'm sure. The bathrooms in the college were also recently renovated (and they were in a very outdated state). So long story short, I see these things happening around me and I can figure that my money goes to upgrades and maintenance.

    At this point, I am very pleased with the environment and the manner in which my education is being delivered. I do have my complaints, especially pertaining to some of the group projects we are made to do every semester. I think there are better, more useful ways to teach people to work in teams rather than writing papers. That aside, I am getting an excellent education.

    Best of luck to all the applicants!
     
  19. leorl

    Physician Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    wow, thanks lavender. BigChoader, sorry I can't really elaborate. My year was the last year in which "traditional" teaching at Trinity was done, and the curriculum has changed quite dramatically since. They have instituted some PBL, and courses such as molecular medicine. It is also 5 years for everyone, so the first couple of years aren't as relaxed as it was in my day. Once you get into clinical years, much of it is the same...one month clinical, then the next month lectures and so forth. Once you get into your core clinical rotations, then you'll combine lectures and hospital time together (i.e. if you're doing psychiatry, you'll have psych lectures within your psych rotation as well as clinical time every day). In final year, your paeds and obgyn examinations are in november, then after that you do medicine and surgery. You aren't linked to a specific team, but have tutorials in medicine and surgery at specific times during the day. Time in between is meant for study or seeing patients.
     
  20. bigchoader

    bigchoader Guest

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    Thanks Lavender and Leorl for all the info.
     

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