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Today Ulster University makes history by opening the doors of a newly refurbished building to welcome the first 70 students to the new School of Medicine at its Magee Campus, Derry.
The first cohort to enter the first graduate-entry medical school in Northern Ireland is comprised of students with a wide range of related and non-scientific/healthcare backgrounds from politics to investment banking, radiography, management consultancy, optometry, forensic science, nursing and even a previous lecturer in Irish at Magee.
Over the past 12 months, Ulster University’s Estates Services team has worked alongside its design team led by architects McAdam Design and contractors, P & K McKaigue Ltd to bring this important project to fruition.
As part of the plan for the expansion of the Magee campus, a permanent home for the School of Medicine will be located on the riverfront, on the Strand Road, in the years to come. It will act as a catalyst for an innovation corridor stretching out to Fort George.
Prof Louise Dubras, Foundation Dean at the School of Medicine, Ulster University, said: “I’m so excited to greet our new students on this momentous day which I have looked forward to for years. I hope that the school, the university and the city itself will encourage a sense of belonging and pride in our region’s future doctors.
“I am very proud of our new School of Medicine which in itself marks the continued transformation of the Magee campus into a hub for health and innovation, as a pre-emptive part of the Derry and Strabane City Deal. Medical schools are sometimes located in a hospital setting but I want our students to learn near the city’s GPs and the population they will go on to care for. The School of Medicine will act as their home, a welcoming place, for the future doctors who are embarking on a challenging yet hugely rewarding journey with us.”
Dr Tom Black, BMA NI Council Chair, commented: “It is fantastic to see the years of lobbying and hard work come to fruition today with the opening of the new School of Medicine at Ulster University.
“BMA had for years said we needed to have another medical school as we need to train more doctors locally with the anticipated result being that they will chose to stay and work in Northern Ireland thereby increasing our workforce at a critical time.
“I am sure all of the students who start their medical career today will be warmly welcomed by colleagues across the health service once they begin their placements. I wish them every success in their studies. “
Western Health and Social Care Trust Medical Director, Dr Catherine McDonnell, added: “Today represents a hugely significant milestone for the Western Trust and for the wider north-west region as we welcome the first students to the new Medical School at Ulster University’s Magee Campus.
“The medical school will play a truly transformation role in the region and will complement and support the existing positive work being carried out by the Clinical Translational Research and Innovation Centre (CTRIC) and Cognitive Analytics Research Laboratory (CARL).
“The students beginning their studies here today will hopefully go on to become the Doctors and GPs of the future, not only serving the north-west region but playing an important part in the future development of medical provision across the region and on behalf of the Western Trust I would like to extend our support and well wishes to them all.”
The opening of the school has also been welcomed by a number of senior politicians in the North.