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Sarmad tells us about the transition from ONCAMPUS to MBBS

During his Medicine Undergraduate Foundation programme at ONCAMPUS UK North, Sarmad saw how much emphasis the University of Central Lancashire puts on student wellbeing and this resonated with him as a student on a rigorous course, thousands of kilometers away from family and friends.

Before I came to UCLan and ONCAMPUS (the foundation programme) I had just stopped playing football full-time. I didn’t see myself being given the opportunity to study in a reputable medical school. Therefore, once I was given the opportunity I have tried to make the most of it as I’m really grateful for this opportunity provided.

My decision to join UCLan was solidified when I came in for my interview at the medical school and I was able to interact with some members of staff. Seeing how supportive they were made me feel like I was making the correct decision by choosing to study MBBS at UCLan.

It has brought me a lot closer to my parents (both doctors) also. The curriculum has made me able to have stimulating conversations with them about concepts I would have learnt much later in my studies if I remained in my home country. It really has been a fantastic opportunity thus far and I am excited to see what is to come and to try and maximise my potential throughout.

A big selling point for UCLan is its early access to patient care and hands on work. Being able to have these interactions with real and simulated patients very early on was something I considered extremely valuable if I want to enter the professional world feeling as ready as possible. The facilities (e.g. the clinical skills and anatomy labs, the library, the gym) are, of course, first class.

I am thoroughly impressed with the standard of education I am receiving. Every day is stimulating and pushes me further. I am very grateful that I have been given an opportunity to receive an excellent education in a field I am passionate about.

Personally, I find the most enjoyable aspect of the course is grasping a holistic understanding of the medical profession (not only the science, but all other aspects supporting the theoretical work) from year one. Being hands-on within clinical skills and communication skills workshops is always an enjoyable experience. It also provides an opportunity for us to develop the skills further and qualify as highly competent individuals.

The most challenging part, as with any other medical school, is the workload. It requires consistency and discipline. If you are not on top of your work constantly, the work will end up on top of you.

Sarmad Akram, MBBS student
Sarmad Akram, MBBS student

We were meant to go to Wales during our induction weeks but unfortunately due to COVID-19 we were unable to do so. The same can be said for our placements within GP surgeries and community healthcare settings (although an online alternative was developed to help us still learn the valuable points). If things go well, we will have another opportunity for placements after our exams.

Our professors and tutors are some of the most helpful teachers I have had. They are always happy to help and never shy away from providing support to us despite how busy they are. They are highly competent in their respective subjects, and they are still able to convey the information to a level that we can understand.

Throughout my previous education (in South Africa), it felt as if the aim was always to pass the exam and the emphasis was not placed on understanding the content.

In the UK, I feel as if the work is more in depth which can make it seem more difficult on face value but in reality it makes it much easier as we have a total understanding with much fewer gaps in our knowledge. This allows us to truly understand the content and make links between the information. At the end of the day I am able to close my books feeling confident in my understanding. This is something I never truly felt in my home country.

As well as the gym, library, the medical centre, the Harrington cafeteria and the clinical skills lab (for my course), the Students’ Union always is willing help those in need and the Atrium is a fantastic environment for students to socialise and interact with one another and grab a quick drink or snack between classes.

Early on I played a 5-a-side football tournament with a couple of classmates. Although we did not go very far into the tournament, it was an enjoyable experience all around with great camaraderie between the students.

Private (iQ Kopa) living conditions are very comfortable. The rooms are decently sized and en-suite. There is an on-site gym which, like the UCLan gym, is extremely convenient. Fortunately, my flat mates all get along extremely well and it has made the study and social life balance very convenient and easy (especially throughout lockdown). Seeing as we have become very close, often we spend our free time socialising together.

Coco’s Soul Food has to be my number one restaurant in Preston. The entire street of Friargate has great options, and at affordable prices for students.