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Where Should I Study Medicine? UK, Australia, USA, Other?

Updated: Jul 25, 2021

Note: this post is brought to you in collaboration with Thinking Med School. As we migrated the site here, the link to the original post and Thinking Med School's website was not accessible so we have published it again here instead of linking to the original post.


Disclaimer: this information provided is from the experiences collected by the writers. You must make sure to confirm any information with official sources such as official university websites and prospectuses yourself!


Follow Thinking Med School on Instagram @thinkingmedschool and do check out their blog created for current and aspiring medics! We are also available on Instagram @international.medics!

#MedicineAustralia #MedicineUK #MedicineUS


Why Medicine in the UK?


Hi there! We are Thinzar and Jean, two international students now studying Medicine in the UK. We will be second-year medics in October and now run a blog and Instagram page @international.medics to help aspiring medics who want to study in the UK and to share some of our own experiences!


When we first decided that we wanted to do Medicine, the big question was where? As international students, we could go abroad or stay in our own country to pursue a medical degree.


Going to another country to study Medicine was not a light decision to make. After taking many factors into consideration and hours of research, we narrowed it down to 4 main locations that we thought would be suitable for us.


The main locations that we considered were:

1. The UK

2. Australia

3. The US

4. Our home countries (Myanmar & Malaysia)


The factors we considered before applying to each country were:

Application process - What grades and additional tests do we need?

Accessibility of information - Are universities clear about how students can apply, secure an interview, and a place? Is there sufficient information for international applicants?

Duration - How long is the course?

Chances of getting in - How many international students get accepted? Is this very limited?

Postgraduate training - Can international students do postgraduate medical training in that location, register with the Medical Council and work there?

Cost - How expensive is it? How do prices compare to other locations?

Distance from home - How far is it from our home countries?


In this blog post, we’ll be discussing why we ultimately decided to go with the UK over other countries and how each factor we outlined above came into play.


The UK

Application Process

● International students can enter Medicine in the UK through Standard Entry Medicine (what we went through), Graduate Entry Medicine, and Medicine with a Foundation Year. For more info on these pathways, click this to read our blog post on this topic!

● Applicants still in high school/college apply with predicted exam results while applicants who already took A-levels/IB apply with their achieved exam results.

● A personal statement of 4000 characters (around 500 words) on why you want to study Medicine is needed.

● An aptitude test (UCAT/BMAT depending on which medical school you apply to) also has to be completed as well as an English proficiency test (usually the IELTS) and an interview (MMI/panel).

● Applications are made through the UCAS portal.


-Although the application process was lengthy, the requirements were clear and we knew what we had to do while applying. This made us feel more at ease during the process.


Accessibility of Information

● There is a wealth of information available about applying to Medicine in the UK. Medical schools are very clear about the number of places available for international students, what the application process involves, what scores you need for the UCAT/BMAT to secure an interview, etc.

● Information on the application process is widely shared on Instagram and Youtube, with support available for free personal statement checks, interview support, etc so we felt very supported throughout the whole process.


Duration

● Through standard entry Medicine, courses are usually 5-6 years long depending on which medical school you study at.


Chances of Getting In

● The Medical Schools Council has a document that shows competition ratios for international applicants which can be used as a reference to decide which medical schools you want to apply to. You can apply strategically by looking at medical schools which may accept more international students.

● Almost all of the medical schools in the UK also accept a number of international students into their standard entry Medicine course so we had a lot of universities to choose from.


Postgraduate Training

● After graduating from a UK medical school, you will be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) and can now work in the UK as a Foundation Year doctor. Foundation jobs are guaranteed for UK medical graduates.


Cost

● The exact cost for each university is different in the UK for international students. Compared to Australia, we would say it’s about the same and cheaper compared to the US.


Distance from Home

● Out of the three foreign countries that we considered, the UK is further from home than Australia, but closer than the US.


Why the UK?

We ultimately decided to go to the UK as there was more clarity to the application process, more flexibility with future job prospects and it wasn’t too far away from home.


Australia


Application Process

● Some universities allow applicants to directly enter into medicine from high school/college (UNSW, Monash, etc) while others only offer graduate entry Medicine.

● Applicants from high school/college apply results from A-levels, IB or equivalent. (You should check with the universities themselves to see if whether they require achieved results)

● ISAT is an admission test used for Medicine in Australia, some universities use the UCAT as well. English Tests are required for international applicants.

● Application submissions are done mostly directly through the university website for international applicants.

● Interviews can be panel, MMI, and are also offered via Skype or Zoom by some universities for international students.


Accessibility of Information

● During our research, Australian university websites were harder to navigate than UK universities.

● Although there is clear information on what grades we needed to get from high school such as A-levels/IB, information on what score we needed for the ISAT/UCAT to secure an interview at each university was not available. This made us feel unsure about what we needed to secure an interview and ultimately get a place.


Duration

● Courses are typically 5-6 years long for Direct Entry Medicine


Chances of Getting In


● Most universities do not have information widely available on how many international students they accept for Medicine each year. The selection processes for interviews and places were not as transparent compared to UK universities.

● This made us feel really unsure about whether we should be applying to Australia.


Postgraduate Training

● Universities only guarantee postgraduate medical training for residents and citizens in Australia regardless of whether you graduated from an Australian university. This means that jobs and registration with the Australian medical council is not guaranteed for international students. This was a big factor that turned us away from applying to Australia because it means that after we graduate, we would have to do postgraduate training elsewhere. We weren’t also sure whether other countries would allow us to do training there.


Cost

● Approximately the same for international students as the UK

Distance from Home

● Closest out of the UK and US and this was good for us since we can easily get back home when we need to. Flight tickets won’t be as expensive!


Why/Why not?

● We decided against Australia due to poor accessibility of information, lack of transparency of the selection process compared to the UK, and non-guaranteed postgraduate training.


The US


Application Process

● In the US, applicants cannot go directly into Medicine from high school/college. This means that they need to undertake a separate undergraduate degree (called a pre-med), which meets the requirements to apply to medical school upon graduation.

● For the pre-med degree, applications are made through the Common App website. Applicants usually apply with predicted/achieved IB scores or the American AP diploma, SAT scores (some universities don’t require this anymore), and English language tests.

● Universities may also require applicants to submit supplements, which are essays on topics/questions chosen by the universities.

● After pre-med, applicants usually sit the admission test, MCAT to gain entry into medical school. They also probably apply with grades from their undergraduate degree and sit interviews. However, since we did not go through this route, we do not exactly know what other requirements are there.


Accessibility of Information

● Since we did not apply to Medicine in the US, we don’t really know how transparent they were with the application process nor how much support and information they have available for international students.

Duration

● Around 8 years in total (4 years of undergraduate degree + 4 years of medical school)


Chances of Getting In

● Again, we’re not sure.


Postgraduate Training

● We did not really look into this.


Cost

● Definitely more expensive than UK and Australia since you will be at university for around 8 years compared to 5 or 6 in the UK and Australia.


Distance from Home

● Furthest from home out of the 3 and therefore not ideal!


Why/Why not?


● Since we had to do an undergraduate degree first before Medicine, we thought the duration of the course is far too long for us. Also, we did not want to pursue another degree before Medicine when we are not sure if we would make it into Medicine afterward.


Home Countries


Myanmar:

● I did not do Medicine in my own country because I chose to take the IB during high school instead of the Myanmar National Examinations which are needed for me to study in my country.

● There are limited opportunities for research and limited specialties I could go into upon graduation.

● I wanted to get away from home and experience a true university life with some independence.


Malaysia:


● There are limited opportunities to get involved in research and other aspects of Medicine.

● In Malaysia, housemanship jobs (aka postgraduate training or Foundation Year jobs in the UK) are not guaranteed upon graduation from medical school. Some graduates can end up waiting for a whole year before a position becomes available!

● I wanted to gain some independence by being away from home.



Summary Table


And there we have it! A short summary of the factors that we considered when we were looking at where to apply to study Medicine in terms of duration, cost, the application process, and much more! If you’re considering Medicine outside of the UK, this can be a brief overview of what the application can entail.


If you enjoyed our guest post on Thinking Med School, do check out our Instagram and blog! We will be covering how to choose a UK medical school soon over there, stay tuned for that!

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