You have likely heard of or met a student who applied to a foreign medical school as a backup option. But what about those students who first choose to go to medical school in another country, Training abroad comes with both constraints and opportunities, and it is wise to fully weigh your options before deciding. The following three types of students should consider attending medical school abroad.
1. Students who are interested in studying tropical or global medicine:
If you plan to pursue a specialty like global medicine or tropical medicine, attending medical school abroad can expose you to pathologies and patient populations that are relevant to your interests. However, it is important to note that you can also more than adequately train for this career in abroad.
If you are considering an international school, ensure that it offers multiple benefits. For instance, there are several foreign programs that have affiliations with U.S. medical schools, as well as a curriculum specifically designed to include global health care training.
2. Competitive students who are interested in a less expensive, English-based education:
Many foreign medical schools offer English-language instruction and lower tuition than programs in the U.S., which can make them a popular choice for budget-conscious students. However, there are several items to keep in mind.
First, the patients whom you work with will most likely speak the local language. Are you fluent, or can you strengthen your language skills quickly?
Second, the match rate for graduates of foreign medical schools is often lower than abroad graduates of domestic schools. Will you be a competitive applicant during the matching process? Remember that if you do not immediately match, this may remove a year from the later, more established and more profitable years of your career.
Data for U.S. graduates of foreign medical schools likely includes those students who initially applied to domestic medical schools and were not accepted. This may skew the data slightly, but it is still critical to consider the above concerns. If you can confidently answer each question, attending medical school abroad may be right for you.
3. Students who are interested in practicing medicine in other countries:
This is one of the best reasons to attend medical school abroad. Generally speaking, practicing in any country – including the U.S – is easiest if you train in its medical schools.
If this is your reason for seeking an international education – or an outcome that you are comfortable with as a backup plan – your decision is valid. Consider, too, whether you will have a compelling reason to remain in the country through the culture shock and legal hurdles of immigration.
Perhaps you have strong family connections there, or you are engaged or married to a citizen of the country. While you can apply to abroad medical schools after beginning your training in another country, you must disclose your reasons for doing so and transferring is rarely easy.
While there are several reasons why a student might decide to go to medical school abroad, the strongest is perhaps the desire to practice medicine in that country. Whatever your reasons, before you act, ensure you weigh your potential decision with the realistic chances of achieving your career goals.