Getting the most out of SSMs
Special study modules are the most tantalising, intriguing, and occasionally disappointing part of a medical school's curriculum. As Peter Cross discovers, you can expect totally different placements in different schools
What are special study modules (SSMs) and how can you get the best out of this part of the medical student timetable? In 1992, the UK General Medical Council produced a historic document called Tomorrow's Doctors.1 It recommended that students should be allowed to follow their own interests beyond the core curriculum, and so SSMs were born. Since then they have become part of the furniture of the medical course and have really taken hold.
Nationwide, the range of courses is mouthwatering. But how, for example, do you decide between a placement with a maxillofacial surgery team or a specialist infectious diseases unit? And would you get either if you applied? Eleven medical students from around the United Kingdom filled me in.
SSMs offered include courses on health care for refugees, medicine and the police, medicine in the classical world, dermatology in Denmark, sports medicine, and autopsy and histopathological correlation.