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The University of Southampton
Medical Education

BM(EU) Programme

Introduction

In October 2011 an agreement was signed between the University of Southampton and a German healthcare provider, Gesundheit Nordhessen Holdings (GNH), to develop an innovative new Bachelor of Medicine programme for up to 24 European students a year. The result was the BM(EU) - the first of its kind within the European Union - which started in 2013.

The BM(EU) is modelled closely on the University's long-established five year programme, BM5. Students on the BM(EU) study alongside BM5 students in Southampton for the first two years before returning to Kassel in Germany for the majority of their final three years. Examinations take place in Southampton and the Foundation Programme is undertaken in Kassel.

The overall aims and learning outcomes for all BM programmes are identical and all students take the same final examination, ensuring equivalence at completion. The BM(EU) is run by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Southampton and is delivered in collaboration with the Kassel School of Medicine, a wholly owned subsidiary of GNH.

Kassel School of Medicine (Deutsch)Kassel School of Medicine (English)
BM(EU) Programme Leader

Key facts

Background

Medicine was first approached by GNH in 2009 to explore the possibility of setting up a joint medical undergraduate degree programme.

GNH is a publicly held healthcare trust with six hospitals, two homes for the care of the elderly and additional community based services (rehabilitation facilities, physiotherapy, occupational therapy) in the greater Kassel region in central Germany. Altogether 67,000 inpatients and 200,000 outpatients are treated within the trust per annum.

The flagship hospital is the Klinikum Kassel, a modern 1,300 bed facility with a full spectrum of clinical specialties necessary for the clinical part of medical training. Most of the heads of departments are not only clinically trained but are also academically experienced professors and have teaching appointments at either Marburg University Medical School or one of the other Medical Schools in Germany.

With the free movement of doctors throughout Europe it is important to understand the challenges for practising and learning medicine in different countries. The aim of this agreement was therefore to develop a programme which provided the opportunity for students bilingual in English and German to experience and learn about the health care systems in two European countries.

Development process

Although the idea for the BM(EU) was first mooted in 2009, because of its ground-breaking nature, a great deal of negotiation was required between the University and GNH, between GNH and its stakeholders and between the University and the GMC. The detailed design process began after the agreement was signed in 2011. The BM(EU) curriculum was developed alongside the periodic review of the three existing BM programmes and so was able to both benefit from and contribute to the wider process.

Led by the Programme Leader, Dr Clare Polack, the core team worked closely with Professor Val Wass, Former Head of Keele Medical School, who acted as External Advisor, and also with the GMC. The programme was formally approved on 1st November 2012 by a panel which included Professor Wass and representatives from the University, the NHS and the GMC. The GMC visited both Southampton and Kassel every year until 2018 to ensure that the new programme met the required standards.

Student involvement was also key, both in the design of the programme, and in the lead up to the first year of recruitment. A number of fluent German speakers from the existing body of medical students volunteered to be ‘Kassel Ambassadors' and attended Open Days in both the UK and Germany, and also the first Selection Day in Kassel.

Design considerations

Certain aspects of the BM(EU) programme are designed to facilitate students maintaining links with both Southampton and Kassel throughout the programme.

Students complete an induction in Kassel before starting their first year in Southampton. Throughout their early years they have a personal tutor in Southampton and a mentor in Kassel with whom they can keep in touch remotely. They return to Kassel before Year 2 to meet their mentors and project supervisors and to talk to the next cohort of BM(EU) students. During Year 2 they liaise with their project supervisor as they begin their literature review and preparation for the Research Project in Year 3.

During the years in Kassel some elements of the course are delivered from Southampton via videoconferencing and lecture capture. Students are invited to take part in discussions over Skype and have access to tutors in Southampton.

Completing the programme

Students on the BM(EU) programme take their final examinations alongside their UK counterparts in Southampton.  They are then able to go anywhere in the world to complete an elective module before returning to Kassel for their Assistantship, which is designed to ensure that they have the specific knowledge and skills necessary to work as a Foundation Year Doctor in Germany.

On graduation, students receive provisional registration from the GMC which entitles them to apply for a licence to work in Germany. They then complete a Foundation Year in Kassel which is quality assured by the Wessex deanery. Successful completion of this FY1 year leads to full registration with the GMC which allows them to work in Europe.

The first cohort of BM(EU) students graduated in 2018 and it is hoped this programme will give some useful insights into differences between health care systems in Europe as well as highlight what the issues are for doctors coming to work in the UK. Research and experience in this area could help inform a more focused induction for European doctors into the UK.

Kassel School of Medicine

Kassel is a city located at the Fulda river in northern Hesse, Germany.

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