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Health & Society Course (Pre-Med)

Course outline


The course is currently catered for two intakes, namely the Fall (September to December) and Spring (January to June) semesters. The Fall course duration is 12 weeks, and the Spring course duration is 16 weeks.

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Entry requirements

The course is catered for undergraduate students who at the time of application to King’s College London are registered and studying at a university outside of the United Kingdom.

A cumulative GPA of 3.3 or above (or equivalent) is required as is a strong interest in learning about the practice of Medicine. International students with English as a second language will need a minimum IELTS (International English Test Score) of 7.0 or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score 630+5.0 TWE/109 

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In-class curriculum

The in-class curriculum consists of interactive lectures and seminars addressing five broad areas: 

National Medical Health Systems
Taking a comparative perspective, we address important questions such as ‘how does public and social policy impact on health outcomes?’ and ‘what are the key strengths and weaknesses of the US, UK and other national medical systems?’ In similar related seminars we explore the relationship between the quality of health care, health systems and cost-effectiveness. 

Medical practice
This series of lectures and seminars addresses an important aspect of medical practice, namely doctor-patient communication and clinical reasoning. Here you will have the opportunity to learn about active listening skills, how to take a case history, as well as the role of deductive and inductive reasoning in diagnosis. You will also have the opportunity to apply these new skills to role playing scenarios with professional actors. Other seminars will address the management of chronic diseases and the care of common illnesses presented in family practice. 

Medicine and Ethics 
Medicine operates within a wider social, political and ethical context. In this series of seminars, a number of important ethical considerations in medical practice will be addressed. Key topics will include truth-telling and confidentiality, end of life decisions and a critical consideration of the duties of a physician. 

Medical Anthropology
In this series of seminars we explore how cultural identity influences health beliefs and illness behaviours. A range of case studies will demonstrate the importance of considering the role that culture has to play in physician-patient interactions.  An ethnographic film will also emphasise how doctors may work amongst communities with radically different beliefs about the causes of and treatments of ill health. This will underscore the message of understanding not just organic disease, but also the patient in their wider socio-cultural context. 

Medicine, Arts and the Humanities 
When patients describe events, feelings, and concerns, they set scenes using their own imagery. In turn, doctors listening to patients’ stories and descriptions form pictures in their own minds. This is ‘visual thinking’ and is an important part of communication. The inclusion of the arts and humanities facilitates exploration of both the art and science of medicine and the human condition, providing a valuable means to making sense of doctor-patient interactions, the nature of pain, suffering, illness and healing. 

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Clinical shadowing placements

In addition to ‘in-class’ activities, the Health and Society course also provides access to several clinical shadowing placement opportunities. Whilst the range and number of placements may vary on a yearly basis, the following placements feature frequently as core clinical shadowing placements. Additional placements can be organised electively upon commencement of the course, for further shadowing opportunities in other settings (e.g., neonatology, cardiology, neurology etc). 

Primary Care: General Practice
General or family practice is usually the first point of access to the National Health Service. This placement offers pre-meds the opportunity to shadow consultations and see general practitioners treating a range of patients from all walks of life and ages, presenting with chronic and/or acute conditions. 

Sexual Health Centre

The Sexual Health Centre offers both an HIV clinic and emergency service for patients with HIV. In addition a walk-in contraception and sexual health services such as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, herpes, warts, hepatitis and HIV. 

Osteopathic Centre

Osteopathy is a primary health care system, complementary to other medical practices. Osteopaths primarily work through the neuro-musculo-skeletal system, mostly on muscles and joints, using holistic and patient-centred approaches. Osteopaths treat a wide range of conditions such as acute and chronic back ache and neck pain, joint pains and lumbago, sciatica and sports injuries and tensions. 


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