For Shari, who asked about WJC

What are some other things you liked that Mona Western had to offer, that Mona didn’t? (pro/cons of both campuses).

You guys, this is my absolute favourite topic (barring Doctor Who, Jane Austen, The Bloggess, and also right now Hozier).

The Western Jamaica Campus was like a second home to me. I loved the people, the campus and the atmosphere; I am hopelessly biased. But I will try to give you some amount of objective information (don’t take my word as gospel, guys).

That time we found a starfish at the beach.

Disclaimer: This post is written based on my rose-coloured memories of life at WJC some 3+ years ago. The Todd just reminded me that life at WJC was actually not all that awesome.

We had to fight for some basic requirements (good sized classroom, proper streaming, actual anatomy specimens), and a lot of the time we were doing the best we could with what we had. What made it easier to bear was the relaxed, ready-to-help atmosphere of the western campus and the gorgeous, gorgeous surroundings.

wave goodbye

Additionally, things might have changed for better or for worse. You can get up to date information on WJC happenings from their Facebook page or on their blog, The WJC Insider.

Let’s get into that pro/con list.

WJC vs Mona

WJC Mona
Class sizes small – 20-30 people Class sizes HUGE – 200-400 people
Student:specimen and student:teacher ratio relatively good Brand new anatomy lab with lots of space and small group sessions
Tutors are (usually) readily available Lecturers have dedicated office hours, more students to compete with
Lectures are all streamed via network that might not work Lectures live or streamed depending on lecture theatre
Consultants teach anatomy Mostly residents and anatomists teach anatomy
Have to travel to Kingston for major labs No travelling required
Small, close-knit group of people Sprawling campus; easy to disappear
Breathtaking view of the Bay/beach/airport Mountains. Sometimes cold.
Hall of residence has a pool Campus pool that is currently out of service
Some clubs, some diversity of students Wide variety of clubs, wide range of nationalities etc.
The beach is RIGHT THERE. Liguanea is right there?
Less social events, almost no night life (except Hip Strip) Everything happens in Kingston. No, seriously.

WJC actually seems to come off worse in the comparison (sadface) but again I’m not exactly a valid or reliable judge (I’m actually a notoriously unreliable judge – ask anyone). If there are other specific concerns you have about either campus, feel free to post them in the comments or even call the campus of interest (I don’t have all the answers, guys, sorry) and share their response here.

Much love,


16 thoughts on “For Shari, who asked about WJC

  1. shari says:

    Hey Robyn! Lol thanks so much for posting this! Your awesome! ;) I got accepted into UWI Mona!! :)

    I love the fact that WJC has smaller class sizes and a beautiful campus, but what do you mean by “lectures are all streamed by a network that may not work at WJC?” Does that mean we don’t have any teachers that are actually present in the classroom? If so, what happens when you aren’t able to watch the online classes? How often do you have to travel to Kingston for large labs? Does WJC have teacher/tutor office hours? How was the overall teaching experience at WJC: are the teachers easily accessible and helpful? Were the consultants helpful? If you were to do it all over again, would you start your studies at WJC again instead of Mona?

    Also, thanks again for posting this! It was very helpful!! Also sorry for all the questions, I am just trying to decide which campus would be the best choice for me.

    I really appreciate it! :)


    1. Questions are always welcome.
      Lectures are streamed over a closed network, think conference calling.

      Generally, no teachers in the classroom but a few of them may travel to Mobay for ‘special classes’.

      We have tutors stationed at WJC (about 2) for Biochem/Mol Med. No dedicated anatomist.

      The network rarely goes down for an entire lecture, but the powerpoint slides are available for download.

      Travelling to Kingston for major labs about 2-3 times per semester + travelling for anatomy spotter.

      WJC tutors are available pretty much all the time, when I was there, at least.

      Overall teaching: our tutors were very patient, and the small group sessions can make it easier for everyone to keep up with the discussion.

      Our consultants are absolute treasures (though I hear one of the best is retiring soon), super helpful and knowledgeable. One thing to remember about anatomy, though, is that anatomists teach it from a purely didactic perspective (i.e. memorize this) while consultants teach it clinically (i.e. this is why this structure is important) and anatomists are the ones setting the exam.

      I would definitely start again at WJC.


  2. Shari says:

    Thank you. That was very helpful!

    If you want to speak with the teachers, can you contact them by e-mail? Are they easily accessible? How are students evaluated in the pre-clinical years (multiple choice/short answer tests, oral tests etc)? How many tests do you take in any given class during the semester? I read that med students have a gpa and take the stage II exam before graduating. Is there also a stage I exam or any other board exams during med school? Is there a white coat ceremony at the beginning? How is student housing at WJC (single rooms, apartment-style or more so communal/dorm-style)? Does WJC have wifi in their dorms? Lastly, what advice would you give in terms of studying, classes etc to a first year med student at Uwi?



    1. Teachers can be contacted by email and I found them easily accessible when I was there.
      Pre-Clin evaluation takes the form of MCQ exams and anatomy spotters (practical exam with short answer questions and MCQs)
      We don’t really get tested during the semester, it’s all at the end.
      We have a GPA but no board exams. You can do the USMLE on your own time though (and this is encouraged).
      There is a Pinning Ceremony (where we wear white coats) in the second semester of first year.
      Student housing at WJC has 2 options – Bucaneer and 600 Block. See more details at their website here:
      WJC has wifi everywhere.
      Studying and classes advice? Study hard enough to get good grades (because bad ones will drag down your GPA later). Go to all your classes and try not to fall asleep.


  3. Shari says:

    Have you taken the USMLE? If so, do you feel as though you had enough time to prepare on your own? Do you feel as though what you were learning during classes helped a lot? (I heard that the British educational system is really good and more challenging then the US educational system, so Uwi students usually do well on it) Did you find you had much time to study for it?



    1. I haven’t taken USMLEs, and I don’t really plan to. What you learn in class helps, but the exam is structured in a totally different way. British generally tends to be better than American all ’round (I’ve found) but again it depends on your own goals and career plans and what kind of doctor you want to be.


  4. Hey Robyn, when you said you don’t get tested throughout the semester, but all at the end. Do you mean you have one big cumulative exam at the very end of the semester? So you don’t have any min-tests or quizzes throughout the semester just a cumulative final exam? Is it like this for each class? In my past science classes, I usually have two exams and a comprehensive final exam. How do you recommend preparing for this type of assessment if the testing is all at the end? Thanks!


    1. Most of the classes are like that (definitely the core ones like Anatomy and Physiology and Pharmacology). Any quizzes in the semester would just be mock-exams and wouldn’t count toward your final grade.

      In terms of preparation I would say just keep studying and reading for the whole semester. Don’t underestimate the workload. Depending on your own study technique you’ll need to start exam-specific preparation some weeks before exams begin. But it’s better to have been working hard throughout the semester.


  5. Hi, I was recently accepted into the MBBS program at UWI Mona. I am a bit nervous in terms of med school, especially in Jamaica. Although Jamaican, I have more of a US educational background, so I am not as familiar with the British learning system/style. What advice can you provide for someone who is not as familiar with this learning system? Do you think it will be tough for me to transition and do well at UWI with my particular background?

    I also read that UWI is hard and you have to teach yourself a lot. Is it hard because of the amount of material you have to learn, time management etc…? By teaching yourself, does that mean that teachers are not as helpful with teaching you in the classroom or not readily available if you need extra help/questions?

    I read there is only one exam in each class? How do you prepare for classes that have one test that will determine your entire grade? Is it recommended to study more from the textbooks or class notes/slides to prepare for tests? Are they MCQ or short answer etc???

    Lastly, are the first two years more didactic learning and the last three years clinical?

    Thanks in advance for your advice! :)


    1. Hi Keni,

      I really don’t think there’s a huge difference between the British and American learning systems, at least not a difference that will disadvantage you greatly. The first two years are all about learning how to study and what works best for you to remember massive amounts of information.

      It is hard for those reasons you mentioned, and teaching yourself is more about the extra work you have to put in outside of class hours. The teachers I have encountered range from absolutely horrible to perfectly wonderful educators. Sometimes there are issues of personality etc. so you can’t depend only on what they give you if you want to do well (doing passably is another story). What the UWI wants you to do is ‘read for your degree’ which means to do your part to round out and reinforce the basics they talk about in class.

      You prepare by studying the topic as many times as you need to. Yes, cramming and swotting come into play but it’s important to read and understand which means reading as much as you can as often as you can from the get-go. Ask questions, clarify things you don’t understand, and study groups can help too.

      A combination of textbooks and class notes is recommended. Frequently the answers to MCQs can be found buried in some 50-odd slide presentation. The first two years especially are heavy on details.

      You get MCQs for all your courses for the first two years. Short answer questions show up in the anatomy spotters.

      Yes to your last question. For more info please see my post (and the comments) on UWI medical school –

      Best of luck!


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