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Life support

We're marking two significant anniversaries in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Connect Features Life support

The 2020/21 academic year marks a couple of significant milestones for our Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences – 50 years since our Medical School opened and 30 years since we welcomed our first cohort of nursing students.

To celebrate, reminisce and look forward we asked two staff, one from its illustrious past and one from its thriving present to share what it means to them to be part of the fabric of the faculty.

Robert Graham
University of Nottingham Medical School 1966-1992

I have always considered myself to be the most fortunate of men in having had the privilege of assisting in the planning, development and administration of the Medical School for nearly five years before the first medical students arrived and for twenty two years thereafter.

Unusually for 1970 the arrival of the first students created wide media interest and the TV cameras were there to record the occasion. Over the last twenty years or so medical schools seem to have popped up all over the place but Nottingham 1970 was in a league of its own.

There were 48 students in the first intake. They were very trusting to enrol for a course which was, when they arrived, five years from approval. However they must have enjoyed the best staff/student ratio ever. There were some 2/3 members of the academic staff in post for every student not to mention the technical and support staff who had been recruited in the previous three years.

Robert Graham

Everybody involved was taking part in something which was completely new and exciting and this created a wonderful feeling of camaraderie. Staff members remembered the names of all those foundation students for years afterwards and I like to think that the feeling was mutual. I cannot think of anyone then in the Faculty of Medicine who, as the years went by, did not look back at that time with anything but great fondness.

Perhaps the supreme highlight was the visit of The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on the 28th July 1977 to open and name Queen’s Medical Centre. I had the honour of organising this event on behalf of the University, the Trent Regional Health Authority and the Nottinghamshire Area Health Authority.

I am quite sure that those members of the then Medical School staff, whether academic, administrative, technical or secretarial, still with us today, together with the students of those early years, will have nothing but happy memories of a very special time in our lives. It was a wonderful experience.


John Atherton
Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean for Medicine and Health Sciences

What a moment in our history! I am hugely proud to be PVC and Dean of the Faculty as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our Medical School in the University and the 30th Anniversary of nursing training in Nottingham.

As well as having one of the largest medical student intakes in the country in Nottingham itself, we now have a prestigious graduate-entry medical course in Derby and a new medical school in Lincoln, run jointly with the University of Lincoln. Taken together, we train more medical students than any other university in the country.

John Atherton

In all our courses we are proud to be leaders in widening access; we teach future professionals from all backgrounds and ethnicities, our aims being to ensure that access to training is fair and that the make-up of the future workforce reflects the patients and public it serves.

In research we are leaders in a multitude of areas across the UK and internationally. Our Biomedical Research Centre, funded by the National Institute of Health Research through the Nottingham Universities Hospital NHS Trust is, with Manchester, the biggest in the UK outside London and Oxbridge.

We have recently opened the latest part of our Nottingham Biodiscovery Institute just across the bridge from the Medical School building; this is now the biggest purpose-built multidisciplinary science institute outside the Crick Institute in London.

Our numerous international collaborations continue apace and we are making particular efforts to build research excellence alongside our China campus in Ningbo.

Of course Covid-19 is an unwanted spanner in our works but the University has responded magnificently to its challenges. We qualified a whole year cohort of medical students many months early and sponsored them to enter the workplace as junior doctors.

We have sent our student nurses on extended placements to help the NHS. We have been involved in nearly all the major national clinical trials for Covid-19 and we are involved with much other research.

So Covid-19 has marked a strange, but in some ways life-affirming, end to our first 50 years of medicine and 30 years of nursing. Now is the time to push on in partnership with the NHS and together build a new future for healthcare regionally, nationally and internationally.

Tell us your story

We'd love to hear your memories if you are part of our Medicine and Nursing history!

Find out more about the year of celebrations and how you can take part