Going Overseas to Study Medicine: is it a good idea?
9 months ago by Chris
Many universities and organisations proclaim the advantages of studying medicine overseas. Unfortunately, these organisations often have a vested interest in attracting students to study abroad. So, is going overseas to study medicine actually good for you, as the student?
The short answer is: no. This blog will outline why.
Why is studying medicine overseas NOT a good idea?
- As an Australian citizen, you will be treated as an international student, which means you will have to pay hefty fees ($500,000+) to study in the UK; even higher in other countries such as the USA and Canada.
- The fees to attend medical school in Australia are much cheaper in comparison: about $10,000 per year. You don't even need to pay these fees upfront. You can pay them back when you start earning after medical school.
- If you intend to practice in Australia, you may need to pass additional exams to obtain an Australian medical licence when you return to Australia.
- After graduating from medicine, it may not be possible to practice medicine in the country in which you studied, unless you obtain a work permit (which can be difficult to obtain).
- To practice medicine in some countries (such as the US and Canada), everyone, including their own citizens, need to pass national licensing exams (this is not so in Australia and New Zealand, where you automatically gain a licence to practice medicine when you graduate).
What if I hold dual citizenship?
Even if you hold dual citizenship (for example, you are a citizen of UK/Germany and Australia), you may not automatically be considered as a domestic student for tuition fees purposes in those countries.
What if, for example, you are a German citizen and are attracted by the prospect of fee-free study in Germany? Even in such a case, it’s not a good idea to study in Germany unless you intend to practice in Germany. The disadvantage of paying a (relatively small) fee to study in Australia is more than compensated by the invaluable connections you will develop with other doctors and hospitals while studying in Australia, which will be helpful for your future career.
Out of approximately 1000 doctors who move between Australia and overseas (for example, UK/Europe/Canada) over 900 move to Australia with only a small proportion of doctors moving out of Australia. Working as a doctor in Australia has several advantages, and Australia is a very attractive country in which to practice medicine. There are several reasons for this, which are beyond the scope of this blog.
What advice can you provide about medical school preferencing?
Going overseas to study should only be considered after all options to study in Australia/New Zealand have been exhausted.
We suggest you first try to obtain a place in medicine in Australia or New Zealand, in the following order:
- School leaver entry medical courses: 5 year programs such as Monash, Curtin, Newcastle, WSU
- School leaver entry medical courses: 6 year programs such as Adelaide, UNSW, JCU
- Guaranteed entry medical programs: for example, UWA, Flinders, University of Melbourne, University of Sydney, UQ, Griffith
- Bond University: swap with preference 2 or 3 above if preferred
- Graduate entry programs (Commonwealth Supported Places)
- Graduate entry programs (full fee places at Macquarie, Melbourne)
Preferencing of medical schools is discussed in this blog: https://www.medentry.edu.au/blog/medical-school-preferencing
What if I want to spend some time training overseas?
If you are keen on spending some time training overseas, there are many ways you can do this throughout your medical degree and career. For example:
- Most Australian medical schools have exchange programs or placements with overseas hospitals/universities, which enable you to spend some time studying overseas.
- You can defer your medical school program at any stage and spend a year travelling and/or spending some time and working or volunteering at overseas hospitals.
- After finishing medical school and internship, you will obtain a full medical practitioners’ licence. You can then choose to spend a year or two working overseas or studying for a Masters degree program in a medical area of your interest at an overseas university teaching hospital.
- Many specialist training programs encourage trainees to spend some time training in hospitals overseas. Many graduates from specialist training programs elect to complete their fellowship year in a different country.
Remember, various vested interest groups try to promote the 'benefits' of studying overseas, so be wary! Ask yourself: "What benefits do they gain by promoting overseas study?". For example, agents who promote overseas medical schools get commissions for such promotions and may not reveal the full truth and may even mislead, so be wary!
In contrast, studying in Australia or New Zealand is better for you.