GPA in Ireland

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), (Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn) is a Dublin-based private medical institution, situated on St. Stephen's Green. The college is one of the five Recognised Colleges of the National University of Ireland. The college dates back to 1784 and at present incorporates schools of medicine, physiotherapy, pharmacy and nursing, providing both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of medical education. The word Royal in RCSI came from the charter granted to it by King George III of the United Kingdom.

Among medical institutions outside of Ireland, the use of the term "Royal College" currently indicates an oversight body for postgraduate medical education: the RCSI performs such a function, but is also unique in still having its own undergraduate medical school. The RCSI is a sister institute of Royal Colleges of Surgeons in the United Kingdom (London, Glasgow and Edinburgh).


Since medieval times, the practice of surgery was licensed by the Barber-Surgeons' Guild, also known at the time as the Guild of St. Mary Magdalene. The guild chapel was in Christchurch. Guild membership at that time was obtained by a 3 year apprenticeship followed by 2 years as a master. In fact the College of Surgeons maintained a mandatory period of apprenticeship to a qualified surgeon until 1828. In 1446, the Barber-Surgeons' guild was incorporated by royal decree of Henry VI, becoming the first medical corporation in the British Isles.

In 1765, Silvester O’Halloran, a surgeon from Limerick, proposed a College of Surgeons along the lines of the College de St. Cosme in Paris, which had been regulating French surgeons since it had been created by Royal Charter by Louis IX in 1255, to train and regulate surgeons. The Dublin Society of Surgeons’ was founded in 1780 at the Elephant public house on Essex street (now Parliament street). Trinity did not teach surgery as a subject until 1851, so Ireland was entirely without a school focused on surgery.

To have a separate organisation focused on providing standardised surgical education became one of the goals of the society and they lobbied for a Royal Charter, in 1781 presenting the lord lieutenant a petition to be incorporated separately from the barbers. The awaited character was granted on 11 February 1784. The governing body, including the first President Samuel Croker-King and William Dense, first professor of surgery, met in the boardroom of the Rotunda Hospital for the first time on March 2. Most importantly, admission or employment was not discriminated against on sectarian grounds. Two of its chief founders, Silvester O’Halloran and William Dense as well as eleven out of its first 57 presidents were Catholic. The college also recognised the medical qualifications given by the Catholic university from 1856, which gave legitimacy to their diplomas.

The first candidate for examination was John Birch, in August 1784.

The current location, at the corner of York Street, was acquired in September 1805, with additional land at Glover’s Alley bought in 1809. It was previously an abandoned Quaker burial ground. The Duke of Bedford laid the first stone of the new building on St. Patrick’s Day, 1806 and building reached completion in March 1810.

A supplemental charter was granted by Queen Victoria in 1844, dividing medical graduates into Licentiates and Fellows. Initially, physicians were trained alongside with surgeons. These two disciplines were merged in 1886; and, the medical school began operation. Due to these historical reasons, graduates of medicine still receive Licentiate diplomas from the two Royal Colleges as well as now being awarded MB (Bachelor of Medicine) BCh (Bachelor of Surgery) and BAO (Bachelor of the Art of Obstetrics) degrees by the National University of Ireland.

Ever since the 1980s, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin has been the principal centre for medical training. Other affiliated hospitals include teaching hospitals such as Connolly Hospital.

Acacdmic structure

Undergraduate Faculties

  • School of Medicine (5 or 6 year program, 4 year Graduate Entry Programme)
  • School of Pharmacy
  • School of Physiotherapy

Postgraduate Faculties

  • Faculty of Dentistry
  • Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine
  • Faculty of Radiologists
  • Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery


For the medical programme, there are two main entry routes: a regular scheme for secondary school students, lasting 5 or 6 years (5 years plus 1 year of premedical basic sciences); and a graduate entry scheme lasting either 4 or 5 years. Entry requirements differ depending on the country of origin. The general Irish Leaving Certificate score requirement is around 570 points. The Irish medical students make up only 16.8% of the medical students of a given year (44 of 262 in 2006). In the case of North American applicants with bachelor's degrees applying to the medical program, MCAT scores, GPA and recommendations are used for evaluation. Similar applicants from Australia, for example, may use GAMSAT results.

For the five-year Pharmacy program, graduates are awarded BSc in Pharmacy. For the three-year Physiotherapy program, graduates are awarded BSc in Physiotherapy.

Student life

Students at RCSI are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities that promote service in the community and cultural awareness. As a side note, 80% of the student population is from outside the European Union, with a significant portion coming from North America, the Middle East and Malaysia. A complete list of current student societies and clubs can be found on the RCSI website.

International aspects and operations

As a leading international medical institution, RCSI is active in all medically related sectors of education around the globe. During the South African Apartheid, for example, RCSI provided medical education to those that were discriminated against. In 2005, RCSI Dubai was founded and currently offers a master's program in Healthcare Management.

In Malaysia, Penang Medical College became RCSI's far east "launching pad". Established in 1995, Malaysian medical students may choose to complete their pre-clinical studies at either UCD Dublin or RCSI.

The Medical University of Bahrain (MUB) is a fully owned constituent university of RCSI and already has nearly 450 registered students. The first cohort commenced medical studies in October 2004 and graduates are entitled to an M.D. degree. In 2006 the Medical University of Bahrain established a new School of Nursing which took its first cohort of students in September 2006.

For students at the home institution of RCSI, electives may be taken abroad as a result of collaborative agreements with other medical schools around the world. As of 2007, these medical schools include Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Tufts University. There are also informal agreements with other institutions such as the Johns Hopkins University and Mayo Clinic.

More than 60 countries from each continent are represented in the RCSI student body.


  • Former United States First Lady Nancy Reagan visited RCSI in 1984 and liked one of the carpets used by the college. She eventually ordered a similar one for both the American embassy in Ireland and the White House.
  • During the 1916 Rising, the main college building on Saint Stephen's Green was occupied by rebel Irish forces, led by Countess Markievicz. Bullet holes from that time are still visible in the stone facade.
  • Now defunct subjects taught include: Logic (1852-1862), Military Surgery (1851-1860), Botany (1792-1889) and Hygiene or Political Medicine (1841-1921, then united with chair of Medical Jurisprudence).
  • The RCSI motto, "Consilio Manuque", was adopted from the College de St. Cosme in Paris, which had been afforded the motto by Louis XIV. It was originally "Consiloque Manuque", his personal motto.
  • The RCSI college council has by custom, met on Thursdays, dating to the advent of the Dublin Society of Surgeons in 1780.
  • The statues on the St. Stephen's Green facade of the college are Aesclepius in the center, with Hygeia on his left and Athena on his right. These statues represent healing, health and wisdom respectively. Over the entrance on the same side is a stone carving of Hippocrates.
  • The Royal College of Surgeons is the first medical institution of learning to offer a 4-year graduate entry program for medicine in the Republic of Ireland.
  • The Biological Society (BioSoc) is the official student society of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and claims to be the oldest student medical society in the world. The Widdess Lecture is one of their main annual events, where the Society invites an expert in their field (usually from outside of medicine) to speak to students and staff.

Notable alumni

Notable Honorary fellows

See also


External links

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