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How Do I Study Medicine Abroad?

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  • Written By: A. Reed
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Students often consider studying medicine in another country for a variety of reasons, including lower tuition offerings, opportunities for early clinical experiences, and exposure to different cultures. Planning to study medicine abroad requires a lot of research and thought, as you must make sure that the school that you attend is credible and that you have enough money to pay all of your expenses while living overseas for several years. You should also ensure that your international studies will be recognized when you go back to your home country to practice medicine.

As you prepare to study medicine abroad, the first step of the process is to thoroughly examine schools before making a commitment. Check to see that the medical schools to which you are interested in applying are listed in the International Medical Education Directory (IMED), an official database containing pertinent information on medical schools recognized as thoroughly accredited in their regions. The medical school that you attend should be in this database in order to have your education certified in your home country, which is important should you decide to return and practice medicine there. Avicenna is another reputable directory of medical schools maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO) in association with the University of Copenhagen.

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Financial planning is necessary to study medicine abroad, including consideration of costs such as housing, tuition, and school supplies, since financial assistance is generally not provided for international students. Private loan companies do extend loans to students studying abroad at certain medical schools, but interest rates tend to be very high. Assistance may be available from your home country, especially if you are enrolled in an institution that will offer you credit for work completed overseas.

For students planning to practice medicine in the United Kingdom, Canada, or the U.S., the international medical school that you attend should teach in the English language. Otherwise, it could be difficult to obtain licensing in your region or you could be required to prove English proficiency through additional assessments, if it is not your native language. All of the examinations for licensure are conducted in English, so you'll need to be able to read, write, and speak it well, especially if you want to study medicine abroad in these countries.

If it is in your plan to return to your home country to practice medicine after you finish your studies, find out how your education will measure up and what you will need to do in order to be successful at obtaining your medical license. This is particularly true for those headed to the United States, as some regions will not extend residency or a medical license to someone educated at certain foreign medical schools. Apply to obtain certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), a requirement for qualifying for residency placement in the U.S., which includes passing several examinations. For students returning to the United Kingdom, the General Medical Council determines standards for approval of international medical graduates.

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