For as long as I’ve been wanting to practice medicine, there has been a stigma of International medical schools being “bad” or “sub-par.” With some schools, this can be the case, but for anyone considering the option of attending any international medical school, I have some advice for you.
DO YOUR RESEARCH! I cannot stress this enough. Attend open houses, talk with an advisor, talk with current students, visit the campus and the country you’re interested in…Be curious and ask hundreds of questions. I was skeptical myself in applying to international schools, but after attending an open house and educating myself, I felt confident in my decision and haven’t regretted it since. Check residency match requirements for the school, average USMLE scores, etc. Don’t be afraid to be annoying with the questions – I sure was! Make sure your research is legitimate, however. I see too many blogs and forums of people complaining about international schools when they don’t have any experience. These are not all legitimate sources. Keep an open mind and talk with students or get in touch with alumni to get a first-person opinion. Know the facts and statistics from someone first-hand. I had spoke with over 10 students at the time, asking all sorts of questions. The nice thing was that they had been in my position before, so they were more than happy to help clarify anything for me.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying ALL international schools are all going to be perfect and nice. It’s just recommended to do your research beforehand so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Although there are an equal number of cons to international schools, there are a lot of pros as well…It can be more cost-effective. You gain experience to a whole new culture and lifestyle. Some international schools have headquarters in the US and even organize clinical rotation experience in the states, but still give you an opportunity to shadow physicians or assist in the local hospital/clinics abroad. You may also even be exposed to different types of diseases or scenarios that may not be seen often in the US. I had a friend who was working on research data collection regarding diet in a very rural mountainous area, and she told me that a lot of patients didn’t know how to write a signature, or didn’t even know what yogurt was. You experience so much being abroad and it really opens your eyes to what’s out there.
I don’t regret my decision in going international for school. Everyone may have their own personal reasons or opinions, but for me it was a huge life change, but one of the best things I could have ever done. I understand I have to work hard to achieve my goal – this is medical school we are talking about here – but it’s worth every bit of the experience I’ve had here!