My name is Davin McLoughlin, and I am a Scottish medical student currently in my second year on the BEMC course at the University of Bari “Aldo Moro”. In this article, I will provide an insight into our course, especially since there does not seem to be much information available for students on the Internet at this moment in time.
I have been studying here for around one and a half years now, and I can safely say that I am rather content with my decision to enrol here. In regards to course structure, it more or less mirrors the traditional and lecture-based Italian medical course. I actually really appreciate this structure, since from what I know, graduates of the Italian course here in Bari usually end their degree with an exceptional theoretical knowledge base to work with throughout their entire careers. I do feel this is something which is starting to lack in medical courses back in the UK, but luckily, here this knowledge is still heavily valued and is given great importance.
Although, as a result of a high emphasis on theory, the practical aspect usually suffers on the Italian course, this is where being on the BEMC course has an advantage. Due to the fact we are a small group (around 20 students), it is a lot easier to organise ourselves in order to have hands-on experience in the hospital. For example, we recently finished a “Practical Skills” course with an internist, in which we were taught the basic aspects of a clinical examination. He then invited us to follow him on his ward round in order to to have a bit of practise, as well as to see the process of a standard clinical examination in a hospital setting. Furthermore, there are lots of student associations which run courses to help you with practical skills. I also find it very convenient that the medical school is actually located within the Bari Policlinico hospital, which is something that will prove very useful when it comes to internships during the clinical years.
Most of the professors teaching us have had some research experience abroad, so the level of English is usually quite good. In addition, the professors are usually experts in their field and it only usually takes a quick glance at their CV to realise that. For example, a part of our virology course was taught by a professor who had previously specialised at Harvard University, and then went on to make a discovery related to liver cancer which even made the Italian national news. Since the lecturers usually have an interest in research, we are also sometimes made to study research papers for our exams in certain subjects. Although this may be frustrating due to the extra load on top of studying the book, it is very beneficial in terms of being up to date with our medical knowledge.
A lot of exams are oral, with a few written exams here and there. This was a strange concept for me at first, since it was not something I had really encountered during my school years in Scotland. However, I do find that the dreaded oral exam at the end of the course pushes you to study the content harder, resulting in an overall better understanding of the subject, rather than if it was just a standardised multiple choice paper.
Of course, even as a medical student, it is necessary to have a social life of some sort. Luckily, there always seems to be something going on in the city of Bari, as well as the surrounding cities within the region of Apulia. I find the people of Apulia very sociable, with numerous festivals providing an opportunity go out and chat with friends while guzzling a Peroni beer with a delicious “panino con polpo arrosto”.
That is something I most certainly cannot take away from Bari…the lifestyle. The fact I can walk out of the Policlinico after a hard day of studying and take a 15 minute train ride to some of the best beaches in Italy really does amaze me. The food is also sublime, with a wide variety of dishes ranging from braciole (which are like meat rolls) to orecchiette pasta. The people here are also very hospitable and will never hesitate to invite you over for a meal cooked by “La Mamma”.
Overall, despite the fact there are still rooms for improvement in terms of organisation (which seems to be a common theme among some Italian universities), it seems that things have certainly improved since the BEMC course first started. This is taking into account the current situation and after having spoken with a few of the students who were among the first to enrol on the programme more than 3 years ago. I would definitely recommend Bari to anyone, both for the medical school and the lifestyle.
If you have any questions about the medical school, or admissions, etc., please feel free to email me at [email protected] . Alternatively, you can get in touch with our student representative, Nicolangelo Diomede, via email at [email protected] .
Erik Campano is a consultant to the English medical school of the University of Turin and doing a Master's degree studying artificial intelligence applications in global health at the University of Umeå, Sweden. He completed his Bachelor’s of science in Symbolic Systems at Stanford University, and then he worked for about eight years as a radio news anchor, before moving to biomedical scientific study and research at the University of Paris and Columbia University. His goal is to develop AI technologies for international emergency humanitarian aid organizations like Doctors without Borders, and to combine medicine and journalism. Erik grew up in Connecticut, and is a citizen of the United States and Germany.
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