Intercalating Degree Courses
PREVIOUS STUDENTS – REASONS WHY THEY INTERCALATED (many students cite multiple reasons)
- The course had been highly recommended by previous students
- Course has excellent reputation
- Wanted to extend my stay at university
- Did not feel sufficiently ready to start career path
- Pursuing a career academically in science is attractive to myself and felt this was an excellent course to use that opportunity
- Interested in world matters and believe diseases in the third world are something you would like to be involved with
- Opportunities in the future if you utilise your qualification, including increased opportunity to travel, massively expanding field with more professional opportunities.
- Through hearing from previous students, some of them managed to go away to exotic locations and I found this aspect very attractive.
- Gain new skills, that could be applied to medical career for instance the research module, the statistics module and lab experience may be very useful skills that could benefit you either during or after F1/F2 years.
WHAT CAN YOU GAIN?
- A broader basic science knowledge
- An understanding of lab work.
- An understanding of research work
- An excellent qualification that is broad enough to allow development in a career in any branch of tropical or infectious disease medicine, new doorways opened etc.
- New friends
- increased maturity
Benefits of Intercalation
Intercalated Degree Schemes of international academic standard will enhance your life-long learning skills, aid you in developing research-based practice and facilitate career development especially as medical researchers.
Intercalating is associated with improved performance in Years 4 and 5 of the MBChB. This improved performance will further contribute to higher academic ranking for Foundation Year posts. (BMC article – http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6920/9/24)
The General Medical Council (GMC) document “Tomorrow’s Doctors” (TDs) does not specifically mention intercalated degrees when making its recommendations on undergraduate medical education but does require that “factual information must be kept to the essential minimum that students need at this stage [undergraduate] of their medical education”. This limitation reflects the requirement that medical students’ education must be spread thinly to cover all learning required for them to practise as doctors. Intercalated degree schemes provide students with the opportunity to dig beneath this skim of knowledge and to develop the intellectual and practical tools that will allow them to become effective medical researchers. It will prepare them to be net producers rather than consumers of evidence. McManus et al (BMJ 1999, 319:542-546) concluded that “Intercalated degrees result in a greater interest in a research career and higher deep and strategic learning scores”; they provided the caveat that “these outcomes were much reduced in schools where most students intercalate a degree”.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in research and academia then a BSc/MSc is strongly recommended.
In the UK medically qualified professors and readers are more likely to have an intercalated degree.
Intercalating Medics are more likely to get honours in their medical degree, hold academic positions, and have papers published.
Before you start
- Arrange an appointment with your educational supervisor
- Be aware of the competitiveness caused by limited places for some courses
- Decide which course to undertake
- Start preparing for interviews as soon as possible
- Speak to students who undertook the degree in previous years
After you start
- Decide on your research project as early as possible
- Obtain past question papers to assess the expected standard
- Consolidate lectures by reading around the topic
- Read all essential literature
Things to consider:
BSc or Masters? You may be considering doing a postgraduate qualification in your intercalating year. If you do, make sure you clarify the funding arrangements first. Some funding bodies do not fund postgraduate intercalated years and the fees can be high.
Intercalation Abroad? This is possible but is not a popular option due the high costs involved. You are likely to pay a lot more for an overseas course and may receive no funding. Clarify funding arrangements and find out what the fees are straight away so you know what kind of figures you are looking at having to pay.
The choice of whether to undertake an intercalated degree is one of the most important decisions that medical students face. This year long, full time course gives students an opportunity to acquire a greater understanding of basic biomedical or clinical science in a chosen subject.