September 25, 2020, by School of Medicine

50 at 50: Dean’s Blog

Professor Brigitte Scammell smiling at the cameraAs we start our celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, I have been reflecting on how quickly time passes.  So much has changed in all our lives in the past six months, yet alone in the past 50 years!

Such occasions allow us to look back on the many achievements of our colleagues and students, but it also challenges us to look ahead.

I want to start by thanking those with the foresight to start a Medical School in Nottingham 50 years ago.  The first students, a class numbering 48, were in a temporary building that looked like an old-fashioned porta cabin on University Park.  Remarkably, a third of the students were women, which was ground-breaking in 1970, whereas today the gender split is the other way round.  I am looking forward to meeting many of our alumni throughout the coming year.  The first students must have had a pioneering spirit, choosing to come to a new medical school that hadn’t even been built, and that didn’t have a teaching hospital either!  The Queen’s Medical Centre was opened in 1977.

Thank you to the first Dean, Professor David Greenfield, and the first Secretary (Head of Operations), Mr Robert Graham, for their vision and wisdom.  We also owe a great debt to the first academics who helped shape the early curriculum.  To this day we take pride in offering whole body dissection to learn the anatomy of the human body, and the integrated Bachelor of Medical Science degree as part of the 5 year course.

We must also thank our NHS colleagues, in general practices and hospitals for their dedicated teaching, and our patients for allowing our students to share their illnesses when they themselves were at their most vulnerable.  In the School of Medicine, we are proud of our heritage and ambition to improve people’s health and wellbeing by outstanding education and research, in partnership with the NHS, not only in Nottinghamshire but also in Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.

We have grown and opened the University of Nottingham Medical School in Derby in 2003, and we partner the Lincoln Medical School which opened last year.  This means that we have a medical school in three counties, training around 450 students to be doctors each year.  We believe that anyone with the ability to do so, should be able to study medicine with us, so we have an innovative foundation year and an access to medicine programme, to level the playing field for applicants who have been disadvantaged during their schooling to become doctors.  And just as we did 50 years ago, we continue to attract the best and the brightest students.  View a brief summary of our first 50 years.

The School of Medicine’s mission is to improve people’s health and wellbeing by outstanding education and research.  And our vision is to be global leaders in education and research.  We embrace innovations that develop skilled and adaptable doctors, healthcare professionals and scientists, through our undergraduate and postgraduate education, our research, our partners and community.  We cultivate a culture of curiosity, ambition and inclusion in everything we do in an environment that enables each individual to develop.

Our work in the School of Medicine continues to evolve, especially this year.  The anxiety, challenges and uncertainty brought upon all of us by the COVID pandemic has been unprecedented, and innovation in teaching and learning, use of digital technology, health and safety, and communication channels have been tested.  It has also brought out the best in our community who have stepped up to work in the NHS and to volunteer.  I am proud of every one of you.  In the past 50 years, our doctors have worked across the world to improve the health and wellbeing of their patients.  Tomorrow’s doctors will do the same and will face challenges that are not even known yet.

I strongly believe that education transforms lives and societies, and that we are defined by who we are and what our values are, and not by our titles, or by outside events over which we have little control.  In our 50th anniversary year, let’s focus on our mission and our excellence.  I’m very excited about what we are going to do together in the coming years and our priorities include

  • To celebrate our 50th Anniversary
  • To continue to invest in teaching and research excellence
  • To reengage with our alumni
  • To operationalise our culture and values assessment outcomes and Equality Diversity and Inclusion strategy
  • To enhance our collaboration and engagement with NHS organisations, industry, government and the voluntary and community sector

This will take a lot of team working and hard graft, but based on what we’ve already accomplished in the past years, I know we can do it.  Every day we have the opportunity to do our best and every day I see the results of our efforts.  My thanks to each one of you.

I want you to know that it is an incredible honour to serve as your Dean.  Stay safe!

Posted in 50 Years of MedicineMedicine