What are the Educational Requirements to Becoming a Doctor in the US and Abroad?

Article Details
  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Machine learning can identify a person's risk of psychosis with 93% accuracy by analyzing language use variations.  more...

December 12 ,  1901 :  The first transatlantic radio signal was sent and received.  more...

The education to become a doctor varies in different countries. The most important considerations when evaluating schools is whether learning at that specific school will allow one licensure in the country in which one chooses to work. In some cases, it is quite easy to study abroad and then practice as a doctor in the US. At other times, the requirements for being considered a doctor may not be rigorous enough when measured by either standards in the US, or standards abroad.

In the UK, for example, studies in medicine begin directly after passing high school, or the baccalaureate, the high school equivalent. Students must generally have very good grades and must also take a test similar to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) taken in the US. This tests general knowledge of science to help select the students most apt to be successful doctors.


The UK program lasts between five to eight years, and further specialization may result in yet a longer amount of time spent in school. The program is considered comparable to a program in the US, and there are very few requirements to a UK medical doctor obtaining licensure in the US. Some may prefer studying in the UK, because if they wish only to become a general practitioner, this can be accomplished in a short amount of time, as compared to the seven-year minimum education for most medical schools in the US. However, UK medical schools are highly competitive and it is very difficult to gain entry to one without outstanding efforts at the high school level.

Most European medical schools follow the same program as does the UK, but not all schools are considered equally acceptable if one wants licensure in the US. If one wishes to attend a medical school abroad, the school should be certified by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). If a school one is considering lacks this certification, then one may have a very difficult time obtaining licensure in the US.

Schools in the Caribbean, and in Mexico tend to operate under the same system as that of the US system. They require a four-year undergraduate degree prior to admission. In Mexico, some schools for a doctor do not require one to speak Spanish. However, Spanish can be a useful acquirement for a doctor.

If one plans to practice in a country that speaks a different language, fluency in that language is a requirement in most cases. This may not always be the case in countries where there are few doctors, and where there are no medical schools to train doctors. A doctor who works in developing countries is usually in such high demand, that fluency in the country’s language or languages may not be required.

As well, if one has gone to medical school in a country abroad and plans to practice in an English speaking country, there may be language requirements prior to becoming a doctor. Being a doctor requires full familiarity with medical terms, and if these terms are lost in translation, mistakes can be made. Thus it is prudent to know the language of the country in which one plans to practice.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 12

@anon339692: I am not a medical student, but I am almost sure you will have to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and you will need to complete a residency program in the USA before being licensed to practice.

Post 11

I am an Indian student studying mbbs in Russia. I want to work in the USA after my completion. Should I take any exams in the USA?

Post 10

My brother is studying medicine in India. Where would he need to work as a doctor in Mexico once he completes his studies in India?

Post 9

What are the needed requirements, e.g., academically?

Post 8

I am a general practitioner from Mexico. I would like to know which steps do I need to take to work in Germany.

Post 7

I am in my third year of secondary school in the UK. I have chosen to do triple science, child development and maths. are these the right options to be a surgeon? how long will I be studying for? Is it true that the training involves corpses?

Post 6

I am a US citizen that pass USMLE 1,2 and CS with US

certificate. Can I practice medicine in UK or no?

Post 5

I'm a student studying as a doctor in india but after all my studies I'm confused. i want to know what exams i have to take in order to work in u.s.

Post 4

I have a cousin who is a doctor in Mexico. What are the requirements for him to practice in the United States. jmonro3

Post 3

As a UK citizen, studying at medical school, I would like to add to this article, to clear up the confusion between the US and UK educational system.

In the UK, you attend high school between the ages of 11-16, where you complete your GCSE examinations (high school is compulsory). After this you can choose to attend College/'Sixth Form' for 2 years, until 18. At college you spend 2 years doing 'A-Levels' usually in 3, 4 or 5 subjects.

If you go straight to University after college, you will start Medical School at age 18. The standard Medicine course is 5 years. However, there are a small number of 4 year programs for graduates (those who already have a 3 year degree in a different subject) and a very small number of 6 year courses that have a 'pre-medical' year in addition to the standard 5 year course for those who may not have the required Chemistry and Biology A-Levels.

Post 2

i am U.S citizen practicing medicine (anesthesiologist) in United States, can i practice medicine in Mexico? any requirement to do so? thank you.

Post 1

I have a friend who was a doctor in Poland. He lives in the United States now. He was wondering if he could practice medicine in Mexico. Any advice?

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?