Hospital Front Door

An Acute Medicine Block in Year 3

of the MBBCh Programme


One of the many reasons to study medicine at Cardiff University is the opportunity to be immersed in the emergency and acute medicine content of its undergraduate curricula. One of these opportunities is the ‘Hospital Front Door’ (HFD) module which is a 10-week block within year 3 of the MBBCh degree programme. All lecture, tutorials, symposia, simulation and clinical skills sessions take place either on site at the Heath Campus or online. Hospital clinical placements take place in acute units of the hospital (such as the emergency department, anaesthetic department, intensive care, short-stay wards and relevant speciality wards) across 12 sites in both North and South Wales.

Purpose and Learning Outcomes

The HFD block in the MBBCh degree programme provides students with a solid grounding in acute care. This 10-week clinical block in year 3 is taken in rotation with the two other clinical modules (Chronic Disease 1 and Oncology and Surgical Practice). Central University teaching takes place in the lecture theatres, tutorial rooms, simulation suites and clinical skills laboratories at the Heath Campus, with hospital clinical placements across 12 sites in both North and South Wales. There are a broad range of learning outcomes for HFD. At the end of the block students should be able to:

  • Perform an appropriate consultation and physical examination of patients presenting with acute illness
  • Evaluate the presenting symptoms and signs of diseases which commonly present as emergencies
  • Formulate a comprehensive management plan for a patient presenting acutely as an emergency either to secondary or tertiary care
  • Explain the scientific basis of common emergency presentations
  • Select and interpret appropriate emergency investigations
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the pharmacokinetics, side effects and interactions of drugs used in emergencies
  • Demonstrate professional behaviour towards patients and colleagues
  • Demonstrate a patient centred approach to care
  • Analyse from a global perspective the determinants of health and disease and variations in health care delivery and medical practice


The focus in HFD is on the ways in which patients with acute disease/injury present to health services and how they are subsequently investigated and managed. Clinical placements are mainly in areas where patients initially present. This may be the Emergency Department (ED), the Medical Admissions Unit (MAU), Surgical Admissions Unit (SAU) and/or the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). It is within these areas students learn about the management of patients with severe, possibly life-threatening injury or illness. An important component of learning in Phase 2 consists of following patients as they enter and move through the healthcare system. Therefore, HFD students are encouraged to follow patients through these high care settings and, where possible take opportunities to accompany patients when having investigations.

Structure and Learning Events

The overall structure of the HFD block includes an introduction week, 8 clinical placement weeks followed by a consolidation week  is displayed below:

Introduction week
Cardiff University 
Clinical placement (8 weeks)
ED / MAU / SAU / ICU (varies by site)
Consolidation week
Cardiff University 

Teaching events during the introduction and consolidation weeks include lectures, tutorials, virtual symposia, simulation sessions and clinical skills sessions. All teaching sessions are delivered by wither central university staff or honorary lectures from a variety of healthcare institutions (including various NHS UHBs, the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, Public Health Wales, Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) Cymru and the UK National Poisons Information Service).

  • Pathophysiology of Acute Disease (Cardiovascular)
  • Lessons from the Pandemic Front Line (lecture series):
    • Pre-hospital
    • Emergency Departments
    • Intensive Care
    • Public Health Wales / Welsh Assembly Government
  • Data Interpretation
All lectures are delivered via video conference or face-to-face.
  • Acute Kidney Injury (Parts A and B)
  • Patient Journey (Parts A, B C, and D)
Tutorials are delivered via video conference.
  • Toxicology
    • Toxidromes
    • Specific Poisonings
  • Public Health at the Front Door
    • Infection Control
    • The Returning Traveller
  • Major Trauma
    • Head & Neck Trauma
    • Thorax Trauma
    • Abdominal Trauma
    • Pelvic Trauma
    • Limb Trauma
    • Major Burns
  • Critical Care (1)
    • Airway
    • Ventilation
  • Critical Care (2)
    • Hypovolaemic Shock
    • Obstructive Shock
    • Distributive Shock
    • Cardiogenic Shock
Students are expected to (1) review all pre-recorded content for each topic in each symposium, (2) meet in their assigned groups over ether 8-week clinical placement to discuss, (3) submit their group’s top 3 questions per topic area to ask the experts and (4) then attend virtual symposia during the consolidation week.
  • Faculty (demo) Scenario
  • Student Scenarios:
    • Patient with Chest Pain
    • Major Haemorrhage Patients
    • Septic  Patient
All simulation sessions are delivered in the Cochrane Building, Heath Park Campus, University Hospital fo Wales, Cardiff. 
  • Oxygen Therapy / Airway Devices / Ventilation
  • IV Fluid Setup
  • Wound management
  • Catheter management
  • Point of Care Testing
  • Communication Skills
  • Working with Interpreters
All clinical skills sessions are delivered in the Cochrane Building, Heath Park Campus, University Hospital fo Wales, Cardiff. 

The timetabling of clinical placements is determined by the local undergraduate teams and usually involve spending time in various acute units of the hospital (such as the emergency department, anaesthetic department, intensive care unit, short-stay wards and relevant speciality wards, e.g. trauma and orthopaedics).

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