by Ivet Tagareva

Which medical school to apply to is one of the most difficult as well as important choices a prospective student will make. It is, of course, just the beginning of a long journey full of experiences, provoking contradictory feelings, but invariably leading to a final goal that is worth its while!

So, the first step along the road of becoming a medical doctor is choosing the best place for you to study! Some of the main points defining what could be the best choice include the type of teaching the medical school provides, the curriculum itself, the practical lessons, and of course the prospects which a graduate-to-be has.

Bari English Medical Curriculum (BEMC) is degree in Medicine and Surgery provided in the English language, that awards 360 academic units, distributed over six years. The founder and coordinator of the program is Prof. Piero Portincasa. The aim of the program is to provide a high quality medical education through rigorous theoretical training, as well as practical knowledge, in thè international environment of our small but incredibly diverse classes! According to the university, “the Medical School is developing a network of excellence for offering the best teaching facilities to BEMC students. Contacts are in progress with several universities involved in Erasmus+ mobility programs of students/teachers and extra-EC universities with exceptional teaching facilities.[…] Universities joining the network so far include Harvard Medical School – Boston, Saint Louis University (USA), Ludwig Maximilians-Universität Munich,” and many others. More on the subject can be found in the official brochure of BEMC.

The first year is composed of subjects that provide the basics for deeper and further understanding of medical practice and its application in the everyday activities of a physician. Semester one of year one includes the following subjects: Biology and Genetics, Chemistry, and Introductory Biochemistry, Cytology, Human sciences (General Psychology, History of Medicine, Bioethics and the Doctor-patient Relationship), Medical Physics, and Computer Science, all of which contribute to a deeper understanding of subsequent matters, and indispensable knowledge on main subjects concerning the ways organisms function.

One interesting aspect of our studies during semester one is also the focus on how technology aids diagnostics, how biology explains various phenomena occurring in the smallest unit of structure and function — the cell, that in turn influences the body as a whole — and the relationship between the medical profession and the ethical code governing it. I cannot fail to mention the importance of us being introduced to the basics of how to approach a patient and their condition in a respectable, humane, and professional manner at the same time. This is something that we have been allowed to see and experience in practice!

Yes, PRACTICAL knowledge apart from a strong theoretical background is an integral part of what BEMC can offer. Even in the first days of our studies, we were equipped with white coats and infinite enthusiasm as young doctors-to-be in the Policlinico di Bari! One example of the intriguing encounters with the practical aspect of medicine, on invitation by professor Vincenzo Palmieri as well as professor Piero Portincasa, was our visit to the internal medicine ward where we could observe echography being performed. This was, of course, accompanied by an extensive explanation on the condition of the patient, which is something we were encouraged to write down as a part of future knowledge to be added to the subject. We were also encouraged to try to repeat the procedure once it was explained!!!

Another valuable thing would be the seminars we can and actually should attend, where different issues concerning disease and new medical practices are discussed. What is more, there are always interesting models, for example, a tool with which you can practice stitching, like the one in the picture. Simple but clever!

One intriguing aspect of being a student in BEMC is the small class, and thus the possibility of attending various extracurricular activities. To give an example, recently we attended a clinical ward to play with child patients by invitation of one of our professors, Vito Lavolpe! The words to describe it are “a rewarding, wonderful experience!

Why Bari? Because BEMC provides its students with the opportunity to receive high-quality medical education, blending theory and practice, in an international environment to yield intriguing results!

In my next article I will discuss my experiences attending the surgical ward of thè Policlinico di Bari. Thank you for reading!