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How to Research an International Medical School

Whatever the reasons you may have for making the decision to apply to an international medical school, you need to research the school thoroughly if your end goal is to practice in the United States.

Check an international school’s certification

By gathering information from different sources regarding international schools, you can get a broad perspective of a school’s strengths and weaknesses. Here are some sources to start with:

  • The International Medical Education Directory (IMED): International medical students and graduates must receive certification from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) in order to enter a residency program and become licensed to practice medicine in the United States.

    To meet ECFMG requirements, you must be a graduate of a school listed in the IMED. Check the IMED to make sure that the international medical schools you’re considering are listed.

  • The WHO World Directory of Medical Schools: The World Health Organization (WHO) collects data submitted by individual countries, which it uses to compile a list of medical schools.

    Inclusion in this directory indicates that a medical school has been recognized by a country; however, note that the WHO doesn’t accredit or approve schools.

    The WHO World Directory of Medical Schools is located in the AVICENNA database maintained by the University of Copenhagen.

  • Individual schools: Carefully read the websites and other informational materials provided by individual schools and then speak with a representative to ask additional questions that you have about the program.

    Also, ask that the rep put you in contact with alumni who are practicing medicine in the United States as well as U.S. students attending the program. These individuals can give you a firsthand view of what being a student/graduate of the program is like.

Visit an international med school you’re considering at some point before you commit to attending it. Many international schools conduct interviews by phone or video conferencing or do regional interviews in the United States. Although that approach saves you money and time during the interview process, you don’t get to see the school as part of your interview experience.

For the cost of a plane ticket and accommodations, you can avoid the potential difficulty and wasted tuition of starting a program that you don’t finish because you’re unhappy with the school or the living conditions.

Ask the right questions about potential international medical schools

To gather the information you need about an international medical school, you must know what questions to ask. Among the critical questions you want to obtain answers to are the following:

  • When was the school established?

  • What language are classes conducted in?

  • What are the qualifications of the faculty?

  • Do clinical rotations take place in the U.S. or abroad? At which facilities?

  • What percentage of students who matriculate into the program graduate?

  • What’s the school’s passing rate on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE)?

    • What’s the average score on the USMLE Step 1?

    • On the USLME Step 2 Clinical Knowledge?

  • What percentage of students entering the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) matched into a residency spot?

    • Is the list of residency programs that graduates from the past several years have entered available for me to see?

    • What assistance does the school give to students who don’t match into a residency?

  • Will I be eligible to do a residency and obtain licensure in the United States with a degree from this school?

  • What support services are available to students?

  • Which state medical boards have approved the school?

  • Will I be eligible for U.S. federal financial aid if I attend this school?

  • What are the living conditions in the area?

  • Can you connect me with alumni and students from the school?

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