Looking to Study Medicine Overseas? Here are 5 Factors Aspiring UAE Medical Students Should Keep in Mind
Many would-be medical students from the UAE looking at international education options will have found themselves navigating the overseas medical school application process – a procedure that can be especially intimidating and fraught with challenges.
Bob Ryan, Dean of Admissions at St. George’s University, Grenada, agrees that for UAE hopefuls, “selecting the best medical school option is not an easy task and needs careful consideration”.
To assist those UAE students currently contemplating studying overseas as stepping-stone to a career in medicine, Bob Ryan offers the following guidance, providing an honest and holistic checklist of factors that students should consider before making any final decision:
1. GRADUATE SUCCESS
You’ve probably known of several great medical schools for most of your life. Programs create that name recognition by developing a history of educating successful graduates. A successful alumni network is a great measure of a successful medical school, for example, St. George’s University has contributed over 18,000 physicians to the global physician workforce, with students, graduates, and faculty from over 150 countries. They have practiced in every state in the US, as well as in more than 50 countries. Look for a university that has a storied reputation when it comes to graduating physicians to the global workforce.
2. THE LOCATION
No aspiring medical student should be too picky when it comes to location. Gaining acceptance to a quality medical school is tough. That said, you can certainly keep location in the back of your mind if you find yourself s with multiple options.
Location also comes into play later on. Some medical students, and perhaps your child, already know where they want to practice one day. Your son or daughter may have a better chance of securing a residency in that area if they’re able to meet physicians through volunteer work or clinical rotations. This means it’s also important to look into where a schools’ clinical rotations take place—some programs offer a variety of options for students.
Most importantly, medical schools with multiple global locations may also appeal to UAE-based students due to the international education they will be exposed to. An array of curricula, residency programs or study placement options in various countries would certainly provide a well-rounded education and solid options for embarking on a medical career at home in the UAE or abroad.
3. USMLE STEP 1 PERFORMANCE
With many physicians from the UAE educated under US educational frameworks and many hospitals operating under US-led best practice guidelines, most will tell you the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 is the most important test they took during medical school. This is why it’s essential that young people who want to study medicine in the US verify the programs they’re considering adequately prepare students for this exam series.
It’s wise to look into pass rates and average scores across different programs. Keep in mind that, according to performance data released by USMLE, 97 percent of examinees from US and Canadian schools taking Step 1 for the first time in 2019 passed. That’s a quality standard you would want to see from international schools as well.
4. ABILITY TO PURSUE PERSONAL INTERESTS
It’s easy to chiefly focus on entry requirements and residency placements when comparing medical schools.
While those are important factors to consider, students shouldn’t forget about their personal interests. Some schools offer opportunities to further certain passions through organizations, events, and more. Those can be valuable for students.
How would students ever grow as humans, and as doctors, if they read the same books and learned the same things without also going forward via their personal interests?
5. FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY
Tuition and fees are probably on your mind—and rightly so, especially in these times of financial uncertainty. While cost alone shouldn’t determine where you attend school, it’s certainly worth considering.
ADDITIONAL POINTERS FOR STUDENTS FROM THE UAE
- International students are usually exempt from the US admission requirements, but they will be expected to meet English language requirements if English is not their principal language.
- Visiting campuses may not be possible, so do contact the schools you are interested in to see if they offer virtual tours.
- Speaking to other students who’ve gone through the process may prove helpful and they’ll be able to offer perspective on what their experience at that school was like.