Guide to AUC: Blackburn

Blackburn is located in Lancashire county in northern England. With a population of 105,000, Blackburn is about 25 miles north of Manchester, the UK’s third largest city, and 226 miles north of London.

Blackburn is right in the middle of some of England’s most gorgeous natural regions: The Lake District, Peak District, the Ribble Valley, The Pennines, and Yorkshire Dales (think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). Blackburn is also in close proximity to Scotland and Wales, and just across the water from Ireland and the Isle of Man, making these places very accessible to visit.

Blackburn is a city with a large working-class population, and it is culturally diverse, with the second largest South Asian (i.e. India, Pakistan) population in the UK.


The Royal Blackburn Hospital is a 950-bed NHS hospital located outside of downtown Blackburn. The East Lancashire Hospital NHS Trust, of which Royal Blackburn Hospital is a part, sees 456,000 outpatients and 97,000 inpatients each year and employs over 6500 people. The Royal Blackburn Hospital has new facilities, mostly built in 2006. The Learning Centre on the hospital campus has classrooms, seminar rooms, and an auditorium where we attend Problem-Based Learning sessions, lectures, and skills sessions. As AUC Students, we can do any (or all) of the five core rotations here (Psych, Peds, IM, OB/GYN, Surgery).  The Royal Blackburn Hospital also offer electives in subspecialties in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and OB/GYN.

Most of the time, you may be rotating at Royal Blackburn Hospital, but sometimes you may also be assigned to go to other locations affiliated with the hospital for part of the rotation. The hospital provides all the transportation for you, so if you are assigned to rotate at RBH’s sister hospital, Burnley Hospital, or at the annex at Daisyfield Mill, they will provide free transportation to get you there.

Royal Blackburn Hospital Map


The AUC Clinical Leads at Royal Blackburn Hospital (Dr. Sibley and Dr. Coutts) do their best to have a unique curriculum for AUC students that differs from the curriculum for the University of Manchester medical students who also rotate at the hospital. Every week, they hold Problem-based Learning (PBL) Sessions. These sessions are held exclusively for us AUC students, and we are all required to attend it, even though we may be rotating in different specialties. During the PBL session, Dr. Sibley and/or Dr. Coutts usually goes over a typical Step II-style case and we discuss how we should approach the case, what we should think of, what our differentials should be, and how to test for them or treat them. We would also go over cases that we’ve seen ourselves so far in our rotations and discuss it in the group, so we get a taste of what other students in other specialties are seeing as well.

In addition, the AUC program at Blackburn has sets up at least two Sim Man sessions exclusively for us AUC students, as well as several clinical skills sessions where we learn how to do venipuncture, cardiovascular examination, reading ECGs, reading radiographs, and more. Once every while they may also set up field trips for students, such as a visit to the Children’s Hospice. If you have any ideas of other things you want to see in medicine, the AUC leads at Blackburn are more than happy to set that up for you as well.

To see the lecture schedule for AUC students, please visit:

Sim Man at Royal Blackburn Hospital


The hospital can arrange housing for AUC students. The dorms here are single rooms, furnished with a bed, bedside table, study desk, bookshelf, drawers, wardrobe, chair, sink, and mirrors. Each room has a heater, and comes with blanket, bed sheets, pillow, towels, and clothes hangers. The pillows are a little flat though, so if you come, I would suggest either buying one here or bringing your own. All of us AUC students live together on the same end of the hallway in the dorms. We each have our own bedrooms, but we share a bathroom (2 showers, 2 toilets), as well as a kitchen and TV lounge. There are stoves, microwave, and fridge in the kitchen, there are plates, silverwear, and cups available for us to use. There is also an iron and ironing board for us to use for free, as well as coin washers and dryers. The showers and toilets are cleaned everyday, and every week, a housekeeper comes by to deliver clean bed linens and towels for free, as well as dump out your trash for you. They also come clean your room once a week. The rest of the dorms are occupied by UK medical students from Manchester, staff, and doctors. The dorms are usually not completely occupied, so there really isn’t any problem with noise. The dorm rent is £195/month, which is around US $300/month.

The student/staff dorms on the Royal Blackburn Hospital campus is just a few steps away from the hospital, along with the classrooms, medical library, cafeteria, and gym. The gym and library are open 24/7.

As of January 2012, there is no internet installed in the rooms, however, people usually receive internet from 3G via a dongle. You can purchase a Dongle from any of the telephone stores in the Mall in downtown Blackburn (i.e. T-Mobile, or the phone company called “3”).

This is the student/staff dormitory building at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, where we AUC students stay. It’s located on the older part of the hospital campus, but it’s conveniently close to the hospital gym, restaurant, convenient store, medical library, and of course, the hospital itself.


Gym — There is a gym for hospital staff and students located next to The Learning Centre. The membership for students and staff is £27 for 3 months. There is also Shadsworth Leisure Center located near the hospital (5-6 minute walk) that has a pool, gym, squash courts, basketball, aerobics, and spinning classes. The gym is government-funded for the health and well-being of the residents of Blackburn, and therefore it is free for all people who live, work, and study in Blackburn, which includes us students. There is a larger gym about 10-12 minute walk away called DW, and it costs 50 Lbs/month.

Cafeteria — There is also a restaurant in the second level of the main hospital building, which opens from 8am to 10:15pm everyday. They sell sandwiches, drinks, as well as hot meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is also a deli in the Learning Centre that is open Mon-Fri 11am-1pm for lunch.

Library — There is a medical library located in the Learning Centre, with 24 hr access for registered students. Besides medical journals, textbooks, and multimedia, the library has computers with internet, scanners, laptops for rent, copiers, and printers. Printing costs 5 pence each page.

Grocery — The closest grocery store to the hospital campus is ASDA, which is within walking distance from the hospital. There is also a shopping plaza, arena (with an ice-skating rink), bowling alley, and movie theater nearby. The mall, market, and train station, as well as many shops and pubs are located in Downtown Blackburn, which can be reached by a short bus ride from the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Getting In:

To get to Blackburn, fly into Manchester. Then, take the train. Since there are no direct trains to Blackburn from Manchester Airport, you will need to transfer somewhere, either in Preston or Bolton. Check the schedules at National Rail Enquiries before you come to get an idea of the train schedule. The train ticket should cost around £12.5 and take an hour.

After you arrive in Blackburn, you can either take a taxi or take the bus at the bus station in front of the railway station. The bus station is organized by letters — go to either bus stop O or P. Both of these bus stops also has an red “H” by them, indicating they go to the hospital. Buses 2, 2A, 12A, 12C, 17, and 244 all take you to Royal Blackburn Hospital, which is located in the outskirts of central Blackburn. You can check the bus schedule at the bus stop. The bus ride should take around 5-6 minutes, and cost around £1.30.

If you want to take a taxi, the taxis are all parked to the right of the train station, after you walk out. A taxi ride to the hospital will cost around £4. Tipping taxi drivers is not customary in the UK.

Blackburn bus station

Getting Around:

You can take the bus from the front of the hospital to the town centre (as they call “downtown” in British English). The Hospital and its accomodations are a bit out of the town centre, which is best accessible by bus. You can also always take a taxi from the hospital to get anywhere you want, but remember it will be more expensive.

Here are walking distances from the hospital dorms:

  • KFC — 2 minute walk
  • The Observatory (pub and restaurant) — 2 minute walk
  • Mega Munch (kabobs/pizza/burgers takeout, open late night) — 2 minute walk
  • Fish and Chips (takeout restaurant) — 2 minute walk
  • Convenient Store — 2 minute walk
  • Starbucks — 10 minute walk
  • Subway — 10 minute walk
  • ASDA grocery store — 20 minute walk
  • Blackburn town centre — 30 minute walk

What to Bring:

  • International Power converter. They use 230V 50 Hz, with three prongs.
230V 50Hz, the type of power cord used in the UK
  • If you are a guy, bring button-up shirts, slacks, and comfortable flat shoes. You don’t need scrubs, white coats or neckties!
  • Stethoscope
  • Passport
  • IMPORTANT!!!! Bring your letter from the school confirming that you are doing rotations at Blackburn! If not, you may not be allowed to enter the country at customs. If you plan on traveling outside of the UK during your rotation, have this letter with you at all times.

Things to do:

  • The Mall Shopping Centre — located in the city centre, above the Blackburn Market
  • Blackburn Market — located in the city centre, on the ground floor, downstairs from The Mall.
  • Ice Skating — located at the Blackburn Arena, close to the Royal Blackburn Hospital.
  • Bowling — located near the hospital.
  • Movie Theater — located near the hospital.
  • Leeds-Liverpool Canal — they’ve converted this historic canal into a series of walking trails.

View Blackburn in a larger map

Getting Out:

Not only is the UK a great place for clinical training, it is also a great place to travel and explore. During your stay in the UK, you will have time on the weekends to go travel. The great part about Blackburn’s location is that it is right in the middle of some of England’s most gorgeous natural regions: The Lake District, Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, and The Pennines. Blackburn is also in close proximity to Scotland and Wales, as well as the beautiful cities of northern England, such as York or Chester, making these places much more accessible to visit than from other places like London.

The closest major city to Blackburn is Manchester, in which you can find great night life, theatrical shows, shopping, and cultural events. Manchester is only 25 miles south of Blackburn, and is very accessible and cheap to get to by train, costing around £9 and taking less than an hour. I suggest riding into Piccadilly or Victoria Station, as these two stations are in the center of town, and a great place to visit, and also accessible to the tram system in the city.

Besides Manchester, here are some other great places close to Blackburn that may be worth visiting:

  • Darwen Tower — just outside of town is the village of Darwen. A short climb up the hill to Darwen tower gets you great views.
  • Pendle Hill — just outside of blackburn there is a fabled witch’s hill. It’s a popular place to do a short hike, and views from the top are incredible.
  • Lake District — consider a weekend day trip to the Lake District, considered one of Britain’s most scenic natural areas, and home of poet William Wordsworth. The Lake District is less than 1.5 hours away from Blackburn by train.
  • Blackpool — it’s fun, it’s tacky, and it’s wild… it’s Blackpool. Visit an amusement park, ride a roller coaster, gamble some, or just stroll along the beach. Blackpool is about a 1 hour train ride away from Blackburn.
  • Liverpool — most people probably visit Liverpool because it is the home to the Beatles. Here you can go take a Beatles tour, visit the Beatles museum, take a stroll down Penny Lane, and even Strawberry Fields! Besides the Beatles, Liverpool was also a very major port of the slave trade, and so you can go visit the International Slavery Museum, as well as the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, Albert Dock. Liverpool is less than 2 hours away from Blackburn by train.

If you decide to fly out for the weekend, you will have to go to the neareset major airport: Manchester International Airport. Here are some airfare and train fare prices:

Airfares From Manchester (Roundtrip)
City Cost Duration
Belfast $84 1 hr
Dublin $96 1 hr
London $114 1 hr
Amsterdam $121 1hr 15
Madrid $217 2 hr
Blackburn to (on National Rail, Return Fare):
City Cost Duration Distance
Manchester £9 1 hr 25 mi
Blackpool £11 1 hr 27 mi
Liverpool £15 1 hr 47 43 mi
York £20 2 hr 10 72 mi
Edinburgh £61 3 hr 24 193 mi
Llandudno £40 3 hr 106 mi
London £80 3 hr 226 mi

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