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When you think of Italy, three things may first come to mind: football, fashion and food.

Yet Italy is more than that. Bloomberg has consistently recognised the Italian healthcare system as one of the top three healthcare systems worldwide, which suggests there could be no better place to study medicine and surgery.

Elena Shimizu, a fifth-year Medicine and Surgery student of Italian and Japanese descent at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, agrees. “I’ve always loved the warmth and energy here. It is a very beautiful country with much to offer, from natural sights to cultural ones,” she says.

Why study medicine at Italy’s Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore?

Italy is fast becoming a popular destination to study medicine in English. Many Italian universities, however, are public institutions with unfriendly application procedures for international applicants. This makes finding the right university with an English-taught programme challenging.

That’s not the case at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.

It is the largest private university in Europe with five campuses around Italy in Milan, Brescia, Cremona, Piacenza and Rome and it ranks within the top 150 in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021

The School of Medicine, located in Rome – Italy’s capital – has its own hospital just next door: the Policlinico Gemelli Hospital.

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore’s Rome Campus. Source: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

This provides students enrolled in the Medicine and Surgery programme with the opportunity to observe, train and learn from doctors, researchers and administrators how to provide daily innovative and quality healthcare to the patients.

Incidentally, the Policlinico Gemelli Hospital was ranked first in Italy and in the top 50 worldwide for overall excellence, nursing care and the latest technology according to Newsweek’s 2021 World’s Best Hospital List of 2,000 hospitals.

“One of the biggest strengths of this university is the quality of practical training in the hospital,” Shimizu shares.

An unparalleled learning environment

Medical students at Università Cattolica enjoy an unparalleled learning experience, both inside and outside the classroom. Students undergoing clinical studies — or those in Years Four, Five and Six — must acquire specific knowledge in internal medicine, general surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as in medical-surgical specialities.

This is done by ensuring students undergo professional training by participating in an internship in healthcare operational units designated by the Degree Programme Committee.

To ensure the best learning outcomes, Università Cattolica is home to state-of-the-art facilities and laboratories at the Gemelli Training Center, and IPSE (Interactive Patient Simulation Experience) Centre, which offers cutting-edge training for emergencies and clinical cases via technology that mirrors diagnostic and therapeutic simulation paths.

This serves as a valuable platform for medical students to easily obtain training on the university grounds for real-life medical work.

Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Source: Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Learn from a highly knowledgeable faculty

Quality facilities aside, the Policlinico Gemelli Hospital and the School of Medicine staff was at the epicentre of Italy’s COVID-19 pandemic management.

Former Programme Director Professor Luca Richeldi, President of the Italian Society of Pneumology, was part of the Italian government’s Technical-Scientific Committee that provided critical advice to the prime minister during the first lockdown.

A total of 43 of the university faculty members are also among Italy’s top scientists, which means students have the opportunity to meet and learn from internationally renowned professors at their doorstep.

“At the hospital, we have a mix of very dedicated people who are very focussed on the goal of providing the best health care to our patients. Università Cattolica is linked to one of the largest, if not the best, hospitals in Italy with a wide spectrum of medical and surgical activities,” Professor Richeldi says.

Springboard for future success

Learning is intimate at Università Cattolica. Classes are intentionally kept small, with a maximum of 80 students on the programme, something not offered elsewhere in Italy. Students attend lectures along with in-class or laboratory exercises, and supplementary professional training in small seminar groups with faculty staff or tutors.

The professors at Università Cattolica have also designed the curriculum to be highly international and interactive with the aim of combining the traditional Italian education practices with hands-on problem-based learning and teaching methods. This approach is more common in the US but rare in Italy where oral examinations and rote learning are usual in higher education institutions.

The Medicine and Surgery programme is taught entirely in English — an added bonus for international students that come from 15 different countries every year.

The degree is also valid and recognised across the EU and in many other countries for residency study or professional activity. At the end of the programme, students will be able to start a career in both basic and clinical scientific research.

Ultimately, with its world-class facilities and expert academics, pursuing a Medicine and Surgery degree at Università Cattolica will prove to be a worthwhile investment.

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