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What American students must consider when going to study medicine overseas?

Studying medicine abroad has its pros and cons. It has its advantages and its risks. Students must consider the following factors when choosing to study medicine abroad.

1. Will they be able to work stateside?

The first and foremost indicator of success for medical schools is the school’s match list. Students from American medical schools have odds mostly in their favor. For students from top American Caribbean medical schools, the odds are in their favor too. 

According to data of 2013 from National Resident matching program (NRMP), 93.7% of American allopathic medical school seniors matched well to MD residency programs. For osteopathic medial school graduates, that rate was 75.4% while 53.1% of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) being U.S Citizens matched.

2. Will they be able to match into a competent residency program?

Data on this question is difficult to extract from NRMP archives, International Medical Graduates have faced difficulty matching into competing residencies stateside. International medical graduates have often faced a biased attitude due to the perception of their preparation levels. 

It is possible for them to match into a well-known residency, competitive specialties are tough. Competitive specialties are tough for American graduates as well.

3. How good are their students’ scores on USMLE?

If graduates from international medical schools are to match U.S residencies, their hopes rest on the scores of USMLE 1. Hence, American students hoping and wishing to attend medical school abroad may want to know how well their students score on the board exams.

If those students score well then, the medical school, they are from is surely good.

However, a lot of international medical schools have a hard time getting their students preparing for these exams and passing for them. For students in US and Caribbean medical schools, USMLE 1 and 2 are not a problem.

4. Will they be able to part of stateside clinical rotations?

This depends on which overseas medical schools have connections to American residencies. Clinical rotations are important to help students build connections for future residency placements, and if American students wish to attend overseas medical schools; then they should be affiliated with hospitals stateside.

American students prefer rotations that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

5. Is the overseas medical school properly accredited?

The National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA) of the United States Department of Education determines the process in which the school has been recommended is comparable to that of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). 

The LCME is the accrediting organization of the United States. If the overseas medical school has an accreditation comparable to that of LCME’s process, then the country where that overseas medical school is based can apply for federal loans for its students. Else, it is not possible.

6. Will the student be eligible for federal financial aid?

American students studying abroad may not be eligible for federal financial aid. Because, most overseas medical schools may not have accreditations and connections to offer United States federal financial aid. 

Therefore, students will need to determine how they will finance their education. Caribbean medical schools have students rotating in American clinical programs and can have federal financial aid connections.

7. Will the student have the resources to help them succeed?

This factor depends mostly on the quality of pre-clinical education as well as clinical education. It also depends if the medical school overseas has faculty members from institutions in the United States as well as the quality of the facilities.

What resources the overseas medical school have in availability also plays a part in determining the student’s ability to succeed.

8. Can students deal with biasedness back home?

Students may face a tough time making up lost ground stateside. There are programs and people that will give American graduates from overseas medical schools a tough time.

9. What will be the language of instruction?

A language of instruction other than English will present a hard time for American students. 

10. What will be the quality of life?

The European Union may have the amenities the United States of America has. Same goes for Canada, New Zealand, Israel and Australia.

But what about countries like The Philippines, Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Brazil? Do they have the same amenities America has? What about the island nations of the Caribbean? Can they help provide the student a good quality of life?

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