Aiming for a medical education abroad

CONSIDERing OPTIONS

Aiming for a medical education abroad

As much as is written and said about India being the hub for medical education, our medical education system still lacks a systematic framework of incorporating lakhs of students who appear for the All India Pre-Medical Examination every year and fulfilling their medical aspirations.

This deficit in the number of doctors has led to India having only one doctor for every 1700 persons as per a WHO study (conducted in 2013), which is below average than the standard norms established by WHO for every country to follow. And despite this, few look at alternative options in initiating their journey to becoming a doctor.

Yes, there are alternative options and by that, the reference is magnified on the option of ‘exploring overseas medical education’. Astounding as this option may sound, not only does it offer plethora of benefits and expand a student’s horizon, but also helps the student to embark on his/her journey in comparison with reappearing for AIPMT, undertaking a BSc course or repeatedly attempting the AIPMT paper.

Students and parents alike need to understand that although everyone wishes to pursue medical education in their home country, due to lack of seats, there would be many who would be unable to secure a seat either in government or private medical college here.

And pursuing MBBS is just the beginning in the career pathway for a medical student. After completion of MBBS, depending upon the career the student wants to pursue in the healthcare industry, the student has to finish his/her postgraduate studies and in case of a doctor, s/he needs to do a super specialty as well.

How does one explore this option?

Although the option is very exciting and sounds promising on the upfront, it could also be a daunting task for many who seek to indulge in this proposition. The reason being, medical education operates in a highly restricted and regulated framework and hence one needs to be careful about the procedural methodology being followed.

Some of the important factors while looking at selecting a medical college abroad are:

 Recognition status: Recognition of the medical college abroad by the Medical Council of India/Dental Council of India as well as other international medical boards such as WHO, IMED, European Union, Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, UNESCO, General Medical Council etc.

Infrastructure and teaching methodology: The information about these aspects is usually available on the university website or could be procured from a counsellor. It is also advisable for the students to speak to a few people either in the medical fraternity or students having studied in the university to gather feedback before sound judgment can be made regarding the option. However, word of caution – do not base your opinion solely on others’ feedback. Its important to understand that each one’s priority can be different and it is highly imperative that information is gathered from a general perspective.

Clinical training facilities: This again forms an important aspect, as in medicine one needs ample of clinical training and exposure. The student is advised to ask the university or counselor about the hospital, number of beds, number of patients visiting the hospital on an average etc.

Number of Indian students studying: This helps the student to acclimatise to foreign environments easily if he/she knows there are many Indian students studying abroad in that particular university or the fact that many have already successfully graduated from there.

Percentage of students’passing the MCI screening test: This is the most important factor on which the student’s entire career is based. If a particular country has a higher passing ratio, then significant impetus has to be rendered to that particular country, leave alone the university.

Financial aspects: Since funding education would be the most important concern for parents, one should choose a university that falls within their budget. Students need more funds for finishing their postgraduation and super specialty programmes as well, which is why budget is an important factor. There are many other factors which could be important for students as well, such as safety, environment and international exposure, which one can get amongst many other things but the aforementioned factors are most pertinent.

Which are the countries one should consider for medical education? Though most would think of going to the US, the UK, Australia, Canada etc for pursuing their medical studies, it is more difficult to enter these countries’ medical education system than our own.

For the simple reason that their law dictates them to first cater to domestic needs and then look at international. Moreover, if one was able to enter the system, the cost of acquiring the education would be extremely expensive.

Thus, the options which most of the Indian students look at are Ukraine, China, Caribbean, Philippines, Poland, UAE, Nepal and Russia. These countries are not only renowned for medical education, but are also easy on the pockets for students. On an average, depending upon the programme opted for, tuition fee would come in the bracket of Rs 2.5 – 4.5 lakh annually (for a period of 5-6 years).

Moreover, since they have been catering to Indian students for long, they are familiar with the Indian medical education standards and try to accommodate similar teaching patterns for the students and its easier for them to assimilate.

Success depends a lot on starting the journey than waiting for the road to appear before you. If you have always dreamt of becoming a doctor, then look far beyond your roots and take this step forward to discover the immense possibilities life presents to you.

(The author is co-founder, EduCat, The Education Catalyst)

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