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Foreign Medical Study


The process of securing admission to a foreign medical school is cumbersome because there are no standard application procedures or forms, no standard documents required for submission, and no central clearing service for foreign schools. In spite of these difficulties, it is still advisable to avoid private placement agencies that advertise that they can get you into a foreign school. They provide their services at a high fee and you can gain admission on your own if you are qualified. The following sources of information will be of help:

  1. Foreign embassies and consulates. They usually have catalogs of the medical schools in their countries. They frequently have staff members who are familiar with the current admission policies and procedures and whose advice should be sought. This source may have applications and descriptive literature or may provide the names and addresses of admissions officers.
  2. Institute of International Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, NY 10017, maintains a library of foreign university catalogs.
  3. World Directory of Medical Schools published by the World Health Organization, Geneva. This publication, while providing some helpful data, is not written especially for the potential American applicant and lacks such useful information as how to initiate an application, who is responsible for admissions at a particular school, and how many Americans are enrolled at the school. Therefore, this volume may not be worth purchasing but should nevertheless be examined at a reference library.

Most German, Austrian, and Belgian schools have relatively high admission standards and strict scholastic requirements. As many as from 30 to 50% of the students fail the basic science examination that is taken prior to beginning clinical studies. However, graduates from schools in these three countries have some of the best records for passing the ECFMG examination. Italian, Mexican, and Spanish schools have relatively low admissions requirements and accept and graduate relatively large numbers of students. Graduates from schools in these countries have had the most difficulty passing the ECFMG examination. (This possibly may be due to the poor quality of the students and not necessarily the standards of education at the schools.)

The course of studies in foreign medical schools varies from four to six years. At some schools, examinations are usually taken voluntarily at the end of one- or two-year periods and can be retaken a number of times. This system of academic freedom adds to the existing problem of studying medicine in a foreign language.

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