The provision and developments in the teaching of Medicine through the medium of Welsh are geared towards attracting, training and retaining good doctors in Wales. Ensuring an awareness of the importance of the Welsh language in healthcare is a vital part of all students’ medical training as they learn about the differences between being a doctor in Wales and the rest of the UK.
According to the Welsh Government’s strategy, More than Just Words/Mwy na Geiriau (2012):
“It is important to recognise that many people can only communicate their care effectively through the medium of Welsh” (More than Just Words, Welsh Government, 2012).
Developing and extending opportunities for students to study and practice Medicine through the medium of Welsh is an intrinsic part of improving the quality of healthcare in Wales and for Welsh speakers in particular. The medical curriculum is a combination of teaching core information together with ensuring students experience a variety of clinical settings, and a range of learning methods are provided including tutorials, lectures and practical sessions.
The chief aim of a degree in Medicine is to meet patient need, and a core part of the course is the opportunity to communicate and interact with patients in clinical settings with a variety of experiences offered in hospitals, community medical centres and surgeries across Wales. Students have the opportunity to complete placements through the medium of Welsh wherever possible.
For medical students, studying Medicine through the medium of Welsh is an advantage in preparation for the workplace. In the context of the medical profession, the Welsh language is part of a wider picture, where an awareness of the linguistic needs of patients is part of the daily challenge. In light of this, the Welsh Medic – who can communicate fully with patients in both languages - is prepared for the global challenges facing the profession.
Swansea University offer a Graduate Entry Medicine course. Applications are welcomed by graduates of all subjects who have passed the GAMSAT (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test). The course has been shortened to four years instead of the usual five, and as part of the scheme students are given the opportunity to study elements of the course in rural and remote areas in Wales, in order to encourage doctors to work in those areas in future.