Come and experience life as a student in the UK, where you will have the chance to experience clinical medicine or research in the National Health Service (NHS), meet lots of enthusiastic students, and explore all the UK has to offer!
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Exchanges are a challenge to set up in the UK, due to the quite high price of living and strict regulations that universities have in accepting incoming students. However, all the NEOs and NOREs are working really hard to run successful exchanges and increase capacity. We love being part of the IFMSA and meeting so many people from across the world. Exchanges are amazing as they open up opportunities for our students to experience the same.
Your students are so welcome here and we'd love to meet them. We really hope exchanges continue to grow here and people really enjoy their time in the UK!
The National Health Service - a publicly-funded service through taxation, that is free at the point of access to everyone. It is widely considered one of the best healthcare systems in the world and is an aspect of national pride.
"The NHS was launched in 1948.
It was born out of a long-held ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth – a principle that remains at its core. With the exception of some charges, such as prescriptions and optical and dental services, the NHS in England remains free at the point of use for anyone who is a UK resident. That is currently more than 64.1 million people in the UK and 53.9 million people in England alone."
To know more about how the NHS in England works, watch this video.
UK medical schools typically run a 5 year training program consisting of two years pre-clinical and three years clinical. Some universities have a compulsory year called 'intercalation', usually the 3rd or 4th year of study, where students undertake research or a particular specialty in more depth. Intercalation is optional in most medical schools. However, many students consider it to explore special interests and/or to receive an extra degree qualification.
After successfully completing finals, students graduate with a temporary registration with the General Medical Council (GMC). They then join the two-year Foundation Programme, working as junior doctors in hospitals in an area of England called a 'Deanery'. After the first year of this programme, FY1, they get full registration with the GMC as a fully certified doctor.
Driving in the UK is also very safe, with regular maintenance of roads and mostly polite drivers that follow the highway code strictly.
- Explore the big cities of the UK such as London, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield, Bristol (England), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen (Scotland), Cardiff (Wales) and Belfast (Northern Ireland).
- Go on a night out in one of the above cities! Nightlife is huge in the UK with a vast range of pubs, bars, open-mic nights and nightclubs. The drinks are pretty cheap, although not as much in London.
- Go hiking! There are acres of beautiful countryside to explore. There are many National Parks such as the Peak District, Lake District, Northumberland and Scottish Highlands which aren't far from major cities.
- Explore the never-ending coastline. Obviously as the UK is made up of a couple of islands, you're never too far from a beach. The sea will never be particularly warm but it's still a lovely place to feel the sea breeze, get some fish and chips and often there's rides or arcades.
- Get cultured! Most museums and art galleries are free. The UK has a very rich and interesting history hence has many landmarks such as Stonehenge, Alnwick Castle (used as Hogwarts and in Downton Abbey), Hadrian's Wall etc. Durham and York are very quintessentially English cities, with cathedrals, cobbled streets and the perfect place to have classic English 'afternoon tea'.
- There's also the Tate, National History Museum and Shakespeare Globe Theatre and even Harry Potter Studios in London. The theatre is very popular throughout the UK but you get some world-class performances in the West End for reasonable prices.
- Go see some professional football, rugby and cricket matches!
- Theme parks - the largest and best theme park in the UK is Alton Towers. There's also Lightwater Valley and Flamingo Land in the North and Thorpe Park in the South.
- You'll hear 'please', 'thank you' and 'sorry' constantly.
- You'll find strangers calling you 'mate', 'love', 'sunshine', 'pet'. 'Cheers' also just means thank you, they're not toasting anything.
Do not dare push in a queue! You will be hated by everyone, although you might not get shouted at because most of us prefer to be passive and avoid confrontation.
- In London, over 50% of the population are not native English. The UK is very multicultural so expect to see people from many different cultures.
- Driving is on the left side of the road and the vast majority of cars are manual.
- When you make friends with British people, you'll find most enjoy having a laugh. The general humour involves making fun of everything, including themselves and possibly even you. It is also generally dry and sarcastic but at the same time, deadpan, so you may not realise it's a joke. The vast majority of people are actually nice, so if you think someone has insulted you it's probably just a joke and means they feel comfortable with you. Don't take anything to heart! However, if you still feel uncomfortable please feel free to raise your concern.
Some LCs have very specific Exchange Conditions so please check LC pages for detailed information