Comparing International Medical Schools: 5 Factors Parents Should Keep in Mind

Parents have been able to guide their children through a lot of firsts. It was pretty easy teaching them things like how to tie shoelaces and how to fold their laundry. But as children grow into adults looking to attend an international medical school, their new endeavours are becoming more complicated.

Many parents looking at international education options have found themselves navigating the medical school application and selection process right alongside their children. For many of them, comparing medical schools can be especially intimidating.
While students are the ones who ultimately need to do the legwork and decide which programs would be the best fit for them, it might be helpful for you to get up to speed as well. Educating oneself on how to compare programs can help better understand what the student is going through and give a frame of reference for when they want to discuss something specific. 

Elements students should consider when comparing medical schools

These are considerations you and your child will need to think through when comparing medical schools. Just be careful you don’t overstep. Your job is to offer support and help empower your student to make their own educated decision.

1. Performance

Most physicians will tell you that 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 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 per cent 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.

2. Graduate success

There are several great medical schools most everyone has heard about. 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.

3. 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, students can certainly keep location in the back of their minds if they find themselves with multiple options. 

The location also comes into play later on. Some medical students, and perhaps children, 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.
Consider that going farther away from home can sometimes be a positive aspect for medical students as well. It may be easier to focus on their studies without the temptation to go out with friends who aren’t facing the rigours of medical school. It can be really hard to hibernate away from your friends to focus, instead of studying in a cocoon with friends who prepare for the same exam.

Medical schools with multiple global locations may also appeal to your child due to the international education they will have exposure to. St. George’s University has a unique opportunity for students to begin their medical education in Grenada, the United Kingdom, or India. The three paths feature the same curriculum and provide a strong foundation for future physicians. The last two years have the option of doing clinical rotations either in the US or the UK.

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 things without also going forward via their personal interests?

5. Financial feasibility 

Tuition and fees are probably on your mind—and possibly your child’s as well. While cost alone shouldn’t determine where your student attends school, it’s certainly worth considering. 

And keep in mind that evaluating the cost of any program should include numerous factors. When it comes to medical school, you really do get what you pay for.

Additional pointers for parents of students from India

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 encourage your child to contact the schools they are interested in to see if they offer virtual tours.
  • Speaking to other parents who have gone through the process may prove helpful and they’ll be able to offer perspective on what their child’s experience at that school was like. 

Start the journey with the student

If your child receives the good news that they’ve been accepted into medical school, be sure to celebrate. It’s a huge accomplishment. Taking time to enjoy moments like this is important during the rigorous process of becoming a doctor.

It’s also important to keep in mind that medical school itself is sure to bring some new challenges. Make sure you and your child know what it takes to excel. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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