The Medical Degree has been structured in full compliance with the Bologna process. The first 3 academic years give the degree of Bachelor in Medicine and Basic Sciences. At the end of 6 years students are awarded a Master's degree, becoming eligible for access to all medical specialties available in Europe.
Some of the characteristics of the Medical Degree are:
(1) Student Centered
Curricular activities are designed to promote the active role of the student in the learning process, as opposed to more passive methods of teaching. The School of Medicine promotes the appropriate learning moments, the constant availability of tutors and teachers and learning the tools that students need. In return, the student is required to show maximum commitment, interest and self-discipline. Assessment is a tool for continuous improvement. Student’s assessment is distributed throughout the school year, which requires the students to have a continuous investment in their learning.
(2) Community oriented
The practice of medicine is a social act. Therefore, the teaching is not only within the walls of the school but also in the community in which it operates. From the 1st to 6th year, different curricular areas promote inclusion and skills development in locus. There is a high investment in primary care in the curriculum (20% of students’ time is spent in primary care centers all around the northern region of the country).
• Internship in Health Centre (1st year): day-to-day for a family doctor in the region.
• Family, Society and Health (2nd and 3rd years): monitoring for two years of the life experiences and journey of health and illness of a family under the supervision of their GP.
• Introduction to Clinical Medicine (3rd year) /
Residencies in Health Centers and Hospital Residencies (4th, 5th and 6th years): the clinical training, which begins in the 3rd year, takes place in different health centers and hospitals in the region. The rotation by the different health facilities allows the students to experience different realities (rural / urban, central hospital / district hospital, etc.).
(3) Investment in Scientific Research
Advances in medical diagnosis and therapeutics walk hand in hand with scientific development, as future medical care depends on today’s scientific research. The School promotes student engagement in research in different ways:
• In the ICVS
- The Institute for Research in Health and Life Sciences (ICVS), consists of a multidisciplinary team that conducts research on "Surgical Sciences", "Microbiology and Infection," and "Neurosciences", in collaboration with research centers worldwide, publishing several papers in international journals. Students have the opportunity to participate in projects developed in the ICVS. (www.icvs.uminho.pt
• Integrating research in the curriculum - The curriculum features lab activities designed to develop research skills. Also in the curricular units “Option Project” students can invest in this area.
• Integrated Program MD-PhD - For the first time a Portuguese university, in collaboration with Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, USA) and Columbia (New York, USA), offers students the possibility of obtaining a PhD during the degree, thereby obtaining a double degree of MD / PhD. To qualify for this program students have to engage in summer lab rotations to develop the necessary research skills.
(4) A flexible curriculum structure
The students have the opportunity to diversify their curriculum throughout the degree, exploring interests and future career paths in electives:
• Optional Residencies (5th year) - During this period each student will train in a clinical setting of his choice, exploring specific medical disciplines for the first time or deepening his experience in core medical disciplines.
• Option Projects (1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th year) -Throughout the degree students complete several Option Projects. The theme and location (national or abroad) are chosen by each student. Projects vary from research to social or clinical work
(5) Curricular integration
The first 3 years of the degree are organized in small modules of 4 weeks, where
various scientific disciplines are integrated according to specific themes (e.g. cardiovascular and respiratory system, urinary system, reproductive system). From the 4th year on, the clinical disciplines are also organized in modules according to common themes addressed in an integrated way (e.g. osteoporosis). Learning is organized into blocks of 4 to 13 week’s clinical rotations, complemented with thematic workshops and discussion of clinical cases.
(6) Arts and humanities
A humanistic conception of medicine has led to the creation of curricular areas beyond the strictly biological and clinical. Vertical Domains (1st to 5th grade) explore areas of knowledge such as philosophy, ethics, history, literature and other art forms.
(7) Clinical skills
ECS created the Clinical Skills Laboratory (LAC), an innovative space, open every day after school hours, where students can improve their clinical skills, under the supervision of a clinical tutor.
• Procedures Training - All clinical procedures, from the physical examination of the patient, to a suture, require a correct technique and lots of practice. The LAC provides students with personalized support and the latest technology in medical equipment and clinical simulation.
• Practice with standardized patients - The clinical history is often the key to diagnosis. So learning how to take it properly and manage the relationship with the patient is critical to the future doctor. The LAC uses actors trained to simulate various conditions and environments close to the real (urgency, consultation etc.).