The medical profession is one of society’s most valuable assets, so it comes as no surprise that medical degrees are long, all-consuming and certainly one of the most challenging career paths possible.
For example, doctors in the UK might train for up to 16 years before they are qualified; comprising five to six years working towards the degree, two years on a postgraduate foundation course and three to eight years in specialist training. A degree in dentistry is shorter, lasting approximately five years, but no less challenging.
All medical degrees begin with a general grounding on the subject. So in medicine, this is a deep understanding of human biology, the principles of disease processes and an introduction to different medical solutions and clinical procedures. A dentistry degree, at its core, covers anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, as well as practical aptitudes like taking a medical history, doing dental examinations, orthodontics and anaesthesia.
You will then be able to pursue more specialist subjects; for dentistry, this might be in paediatric dentistry, dental prosthetics, dental radiography and radiology. Medical specialisations are very broad, such as ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynaecology or anaesthetics. Both medicine and dentistry degrees equip students with the vital practical skills to do surgical procedures, for example, as well as with the people skills necessary to interact with patients and their relatives.
Learning is through themed case discussions in groups, lectures, practical classes (which may involve anatomy dissection) and clinical experience. Assessment is a mix of written examination, reflective portfolio work, written reports and observation of personal behaviour.
Medical degrees present some of best employment rates for graduates, unsurprisingly, and also promise long-term job security and good salary. Of course, most graduates go into jobs within the health sector: in hospitals, clinics or GP practices, but there are roles for dentists and doctors in the Armed Forces, the pharmaceutical industry or within academia.