Studying medicine in the US is extremely challenging, but if you have the passion and are willing put in the effort required, it is worth the hard work. After graduation, you will have the skills to help those in need, and make a real difference in people's lives. That in itself is worth the hours of hard work.
International students who love to help people and be faced with new and challenging experiences may want to consider studying medicine in the US. The path is long and hard, but the reward for those students who want to study medicine is a secure, well-paying job that you can be proud of.
Before applying to any medical school, international students should make sure they have completed a four-year bachelors degree, with all of the prerequisite classes needed for the particular medical schools being applied to. The prerequisites vary from school to school, but almost always include the following science courses: biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Some schools may also require that you have taken other humanities, english, math, and science classes as well, so make sure you look into medical schools while you are still an undergraduate so you can choose your classes appropriately.
You will also need to have completed the MCAT test, which stands for Medical College Admissions Test. The test will determine your ability to think critically, problem solve, write clearly, as well as measure your knowledge of various scientific concepts. A good score on the MCAT is key to getting into a good medical school.
Assuming you now have a bachelors degree and a good MCAT score, your next step is to actually apply. As an international student, you will, unfortunately, be at a disadvantage to local students. Many publicly funded colleges are required to put part or all of their state funds towards students who are residents of the school's state. This is mainly to ensure that there are enough doctors for the area, but it can put international students at a huge disadvantage in the selection process. You can always apply to private universities, but, of course, these will be more expensive. Each student will need to weigh the pros and cons of each choice that is available, and apply to the school that is right for him or her.
What to Expect from Medical School
Medical school typically takes 4 years to complete; then there is a 3 to 7 year residency after that, where students undergo supervised training in their specific field of focus. International students who still feel as though they need additional training or who wish to sub-specialize in a field can also do a fellowship, which gives 1 to 4 more years of training.
The education you will receive is intensive, and will be a full-time activity. You will find that the first year requires a huge amount of memorization, with classes like anatomy, histology, pathology, and biochemistry being likely for your first year. These classes will be classroom and lab based giving you both academic and first-hand knowledge of the human body. For example, a typical gross anatomy class will consist of a one-hour lecture followed by a lab for several hours, where you will be dissecting cadavers or animals to gain first-hand experience of what real bodies look and act like.
You will also be going through clinical rotations throughout your education. This will allow you to learn how to interact with patients, and will allow you to see what your future career as a doctor might be like. Clinical rotations will be more and more frequent as you approach the completion of your degree.
Before you can get your Medical Doctor degree in the United States, you will have to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) test, also known as the Board exam. This test is separated into three parts, which you will take throughout your education. The first part is usually after your second year of medical school, the second part is during your fourth year, and the third part is after your first year of residency. Each test is different, and they are meant to ensure you meet certain standards set by the US in your education.
Who is Right for the Degree?
Because of the length of education, cost, and overall challenge, studying medicine in the US is not for everyone. Only students who have a real passion for medicine and love to be challenged should decide to study medicine. Also know that the financial toll of 4 or more years will be extremely high, especially if you go to a private college. However, if you feel up to the challenge and decide to study medicine in the US, you will be receiving some of the best education in the world for one of the most noble degrees.