International Medical Schools (non U.S.)
There are many international medical school admissions options outside the U.S. Each year, many applicants pursue admission to an international school with the hope of eventually becoming a U.S. doctor.
These medical school applicants pursue admission to an international medical school with 1 of 2 longer term objectives:
- To transfer into an American medical college.
- To obtain a U.S. medical residency upon graduation.
Let’s examine both of these options:
Transfer into a U.S. Medical School
American medical schools have very low attrition rates with many medical schools explicitly stating on their websites that they don’t consider transfer applicants. (That’s right. They’re actually willing to forego that lost revenue when the occasional student fails to graduate.) As a result, transfers are extremely difficult to pull off. Additionally, first preference is given to other American schools. Because the Australian, British, and Canadian medical schools are the most similar to their American counterparts, students from these institutions are given the next preference.
Moral of the story: Students from Mexican and Caribbean medical schools, which cater to U.S. clients and accept virtually every applicant, are very rarely successful at transferring to an American medical school.
Obtaining an American Medical Residency
Fortunately, it is much easier to obtain an American residency than it is to transfer into an American medical school. You will be at a disadvantage though and your dream residency at the Mayo Clinic may not be realistic. Be aware that you are more likely to succeed in obtaining a less desirable residency in a rural area. Your residency, should you be able to obtain one, will likely not be in a competitive area such as surgery or radiology.
Our Advice to Americans on Studying Abroad
This should only be considered as a final option and you, if you are not successful in applying to US schools, you should strongly consider waiting a year and applying again with new letters of reference, additional education or work experience, etc.
In addition to financial issues and language barriers, foreign medical schools often have poor faculty, training, and equipment. Often times those very few students who are able to transfer to American medical schools do not get full credit for the coursework completed at their inferior schools.
Quite simply, the bottom line is that less than half of U.S. citizens who attend a foreign medical school eventually practice medicine in the U.S. Please, please please do your due diligence. Visit the schools beforehand and talk to as many current students as you can. Ask them pointed questions such as how well they feel they’re being educated, availability of faculty, etc.
Note: This page is primarily written for those medical school applicants who wish to pursue a medical career in the U.S. When we refer to international medical schools, we are referring to the less competitive schools in places such as Mexico and the Caribbean that often seem to be an alluring alternative to those applicants with less attractive candidacies. We are fully aware of the many top-notch medical colleges in Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand.