How does an English person say he has had a year of medical school?

In America, we say that we majored in Math. In the UK, they say that they read Maths.

But what about medical school? How does someone British say that he had a year of post-graduate study toward an MD?

They don’t. In the UK (well, England at least - not sure about the Scottish system) you go straight into medical school as an undergraduate.

Better tell my wife then. She’s a graduate entry medic in her third year.

She tells people “I’m a third-year medic”, if that helps the OP. If she needs to specify she’ll say she’s on the fast-track graduate course to show she’s already done an undergraduate degree.

My brother went into medical school as an undergraduate, and would have said the same thing (“I’m a first-year medic”).

Of course, you can do that. I know someone who did a PhD and then started as a first-year medic. But it is not the norm, whereas in the US the norm (the only way?) is to do another degree before going into medicine.

You’re right, the assumption here is that medicine is an undergraduate degree (which is why Mrs Wallenstein has to specify it’s her second degree).

My fictional character had enough schooling to recognize a broken bone from an x-ray and then dropped out. What would he say to indicate that he has more medical knowledge than the average person, but did not stay in medical school long enough to become a doctor?

“I studied medicine for <x> years but then left/quit/transferred to another degree”

So he went to primary school…?

amarone, that sounds like what an American would say. Would my Englishman say it the same way?

I’m English and it sounds okay to me. There again, I have lived in the US for the last 13 years so some Americanisms may have rubbed off.

Thanks, guys. Some day I will finish this story.

Then I can pester you with a new set of questions for my next story.


Perhaps an even shorter version? Here, people would just say “I did a couple of years of medicine”.

“I was studying towards my MB BS for a couple of years, but left before I finished*.”

(English people wouldn’t usually say “quit” - that sounds very American to my ears.)

*Even more exciting would be “but was sent down” or even better “but was rusticated”.

Interpreting X-rays is a lot more complex that you’d think. There’s a reason why radiology is a specific discipline.

It’s hard for me to believe that somebody who studied general medicine for a year is better at recognizing a broken bone on an X-ray than just about anybody. Is reading X-Rays something that is even taught the first year?

You get to see lots of examples in books - some types of fracture are distinctive if you know what you’re looking for, but don’t leap out as an obiovusly “broken” bone at first glance.

Minor point: The only place you’ll generally hear people saying that they’re ‘reading’ a subject is on University Challenge. I think it might be more common in the Oxbridge establishments, but for the rest of us Scumbag College types a claim to be reading a subject would come across as a little pretentious and strange.

A simple “I studied ‘X’” would be much more normal in most situations I think.

When and where is your character supposed to have studied medicine?

This makes a big difference to the believability of your story.

Up until about 15 years ago most medical schools had a 5 or 6 year course that was split very definitely into pre-clinical and clinical years.

In the pre-clinical years you studied biochemistry, anatomy, medical ethics and physiology (and brushed up on whatever basic science knowledge you lacked). You did NOT have any contact with live patients, did NOT go to hospital wards and would usually NOT have looked at X-rays.

In the clinical years you studied pharmacology, pathology, microbiology and you supplemented this with going to ward-based attachments where you would learn how to take a history, examine patients, interpret the results of investigations etc.

The reasoning behind this type of educations was that you used the knowledge gained in the pre-clinical years as a foundation upon which you built the knowledge gained during the clinical years.

Realising that most people don’t actually think like this, the medical schools changed their teaching to a more integrated approach with earlier patient contact.

There are now two basic models- the “systems based” and the “problem based”.
In the system based model you learn about say, the cardiovascular system, its anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology and the drugs used to treat it, at the same time you learn how to listen to the heart sounds and take a cardiac history, then you move onto the next sytem, say respiratory.

In the “problem based” approach, as far as I understand it, you take an issue, say “heart attack” and use this problem to direct your learning so that you cover all the same information in the “systems based” method, but in a different way, based on small groups and individuals feeding back their self-directed learning to the group. Glasgow and Manchester use this method.

Now- someone who left medicine in the old days after a year might not know how to interpret an Xray- but could probably tell you the names of all the bones, the names of some common fractures and describe the deformity and what type of trauma would cause it. This is because when you learn anatomy as a total subject, you start with the bones of the arm.

A student who left after one year NOW would only be able to interpret a fracture on an Xray if he had studied the skeletal system or the problem of “fracture” yet.

My university, being a bastion of tradition, only moved to the integrated system about 4 years ago- so I’m one of the last of the dinosaurs who still did the old fashioned type of degree.

FWIW, my dad took medicine for a year in the early 1960s- and in his words “I decided to change to something where I could spend more time in the pub and less time fainting in an anatomy lab”. His residual medical knowledge is limited to vaguely remembered dirty mnemonics for the pathway of nerves.

I would say “I took a year of medicine before I changed to X” or “I studied medicine for a year”.

Yeah “quit” is very American. We also tend to “do” subjects rather than “study” them (at least us non-Oxbridge Oiks do anyway).

Stealing irishgirl’s dad’s explaination I’d go with something like:

It matters more where in the UK they are from, their background, and age.

Up in the north we’d probably say “I did medicine for a year, but dropped out.”