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Medical Education – Upcoming International Destinations

Medical Education – Upcoming International Destinations

3rd in a 4-part series about global medical education

In the past few years, countries such as Singapore, Australia and China have become a popular study abroad destination for international students. Besides business and engineering, students are now looking at these countries for medicine as well. Read on to know more about medical education in some upcoming destinations. 

1) Medicine in Singapore:

While there are several colleges in Singapore that offer medical education at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level, only three colleges are part of the World Directory of Medical Schools and are globally accepted. Keep in mind that these colleges are extremely competitive, as they give priority admission to Singaporean nationals.

Each college has its own application form and process. In general, at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level, you will need to have strong academics, relevant extracurricular activities, demonstrated volunteer work and internship reports, a portfolio, personal statements and recommendation letters. Apart from this, you will be expected to complete an essay examination and pass an interview before clearing a medical examination. Additionally, you have to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. Keep in mind that medical school applications require final grade 12 results, not predicted. If your results are available after the application deadline, you will need to take a gap year and apply the following year. 

  • Undergraduate Degrees: 

Both the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine offer a five-year MBBS programme. Each has its own requirements. For example, at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, you require very high scores in the IBDP. Along with this, you will need good grades in Higher Level (HL) chemistry and either HL biology or physics. If you are studying the Indian board, you will need at least a 90 percent in your grade 12 exams with the same subject pre-requisites. You are also required to submit BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) scores and attend a multiple mini interview (MMI). Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, on the other hand, requires high grades for both IBDP and Indian boards, with similar . In addition, Focused Skills Assessment (FSA) test which is structured as a multiple mini interview (MMI) or a focused task. In addition, you will have to take the Situational Judgement Aptitude Test (SJT), a 60-minute multiple-choice test designed to assess judgement in medicine-relevant situations. On the other hand, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine requires high grades in the IDBP with similar subject prerequisites.

  • Postgraduate Degrees: 

Duke-NUS follows similar requirements and system as medical schools in the US, where medicine is entirely a four-year graduate MD degree. For admission here, you will need to have completed or be in the final year of your bachelor’s degree. Apart from this, you will have to take either the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT) or Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). If shortlisted, you will have to give an interview and a written exercise.

Admissions deadlines are school-specific and fall between September to March, depending on the college. Each programme’s structure is different, however, all include some combination of pre-clinical and clinical learning, following which you can start your residency. It is important to note that students are required to sign agreements with the Singapore Government to serve a bond period after graduation. In order to practice medicine in another country, you will have to pass the country’s licensing exam. 

2) Medicine in Australia:

In Australia, medical education is provided by 21 accredited medical schools where you can study medicine at the undergraduate or postgraduate level. Most colleges accept international students and medical degrees obtained here are globally accepted, provided you complete the medical licensing examination in the country in which you choose to practice. 

All applications have to be made directly to the college or through an approved agent. In general, you will need a personal statement, resume and two or three recommendation letters. Several Australian colleges accept Indian national boards like ISC and CBSE, but the acceptance of state boards needs to be checked with individual colleges. Apart from this, you might have to give the TOEFL or IELTS as well. 

  • Undergraduate degrees:

Few colleges offer medical education at the undergraduate level. An undergraduate medical degree usually takes six years to complete and generally you obtain an MBBS degree. Entry requirements vary per programme but most require between 35 to 43 points in your IBDP, with good grades in chemistry and biology as well as mathematics or physics. The University of Adelaide, for example, requires 34 points in the IBDP or 90 percent in the ISC or CBSE, along with at least one, chemistry, biology or mathematics, preferably at HL. Apart from this, you will also have to take the International Student Admissions Test (ISAT), a general aptitude test, which can only be taken once in a 12 month period. You might also have to take individual entrance examinations such as the University College Admission Test (UCAT), depending on the college. Usually, all shortlisted applicants are required to attend a formal or a Skype interview. These programmes have one intake each year in February. Applications open at the beginning of March the year before the intake and deadlines range from June to the end of September. Usually, the first half of the degree is more theoretical followed by extensive practice-based learning. Most major examinations are completed in year five and internships are undertaken in year six. 

  • Postgraduate degrees:

You can apply for a postgraduate medical degree only after you have completed an undergraduate degree in any area of study. The Doctor of Medicine (MD) course is usually four years. Along with the above-mentioned admission requirements, you will also have to include your undergraduate results. Along with this, you will require to give either the GAMSAT or MCAT. Some colleges may require some medicine-related prerequisites, similar to a pre-med track in the US. For example, the University of Melbourne requires you completed your undergraduate studies with prerequisite studies in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry, consisting of at least one subject at second-year level of each. Post applying, you may be asked to participate in an MMI or a formal interview. The course is usually structured as two years of pre-clinical teaching and two years of core clinical teaching, during which you can take up a medical research project.

Post the completion of your degree, you can do your residency in Australia, however, these are not guaranteed and domestic students are given preference. Australia also offers pathway degrees, where you can enrol in a BA or a BSc programme and if you meet the necessary requirements, you will be guaranteed a place in the MD programme. 

3) Medicine in China:

Several colleges in China have started offering medical courses in English. This makes it a viable option for international students who want to study medicine abroad. Medical education here takes either five or six years to complete and are usually an MBBS course. International students can apply directly through the CUCAS online application portal or CUAC that gives you guidance about the application process. Application deadlines are between June and July and the courses usually start in September. 

The specific entry requirements vary based on the college and most accept both international and Indian national boards. Generally, you will require an average grade of 60 – 75 percent in grade 12. In addition, you will need a 50-60 percent in physics, chemistry and biology depending on the college, basic English language proficiency skills, and be 17 at the end of the first semester (31st December). Even though the college offers courses in English, most colleges require you to learn Mandarin as part of your course as it allows you to adapt to the culture and interact with patients once you start your clinical contact.

The course structure varies based on the length of the course, but most commonly, the first three years are structured around pre-clinical learning and theory, years four and five are clinical learning and the final sixth year is the internship year that can either be done in China or in your home country. Medical graduates can work in China once they pass the residency test. You will also need to pass the medical exam for foreign doctors, which is held twice a year.

When you apply for medicine in China, it is important to check the course name and details as there are several courses, such as Chinese Medicine and Medical Science, which are also offered. Only the MBBS or Clinical Medicine course will be accepted globally. Since there are nearly 50 Chinese colleges that offer medicine at the undergraduate level, it is important to check with your local medical licensing body as well as the World Directory of Medical Schools whether the course you’re applying to in China allows you to practice internationally. 

4) Other Destinations:

Malaysia has a few medical schools that are open to international students and degrees here usually take five years to complete. One of these schools is the International Medical University. IBDP students will need to take at least two sciences or mathematics at HL and one science at SL with a minimum of 30 points. Students studying Indian boards will require a 70 percent in the grade 12 exams and need to have studied biology and chemistry, along with either physics or mathematics. You will also need to give the IELTS. To make the admission process simpler, most medical programmes do not have any entrance tests or interviews. Degrees in Malaysia are structured in two phases. The first two years of your education focuses on pre-clinical training while the remaining years focus on clinical training with rotations at hospitals and health clinics. After finishing your studies, you can appear for different screening tests such as the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board (PLAB), among others. International students aren’t allowed to take up medical residencies in the country, so you will have to go to another country to finish this required component of your degree. Malaysian medical degrees are approved and accredited by international bodies, however, you will have to check with your home country if they will accept a medical degree from Malaysia. 

Besides Malaysia, Grenada in the Carribean is also attracting international students, however, only St George’s University, Grenada is part of the World Directory of Medical Schools. St George’s University, offers five, six and seven-year medical programmes. Asian students typically enter the five year MD programme which has a year of pre-medical studies and four years of medical school. In your final two years, which include clinical rotations, you can study in the US, UK and Canada as well as Granada, giving you some international exposure. When applying, you will need high grades in your IBDP and national boards and will also require TOEFL/IELTS scores. International (non-US) students are exempt from the MCAT and if shortlisted, you will be granted an interview that will take place either in your home country or via Skype.

If you are considering studying medicine in Europe read our blog post here. For medical education in the US or Canada, click here. If you’re unsure of which destination is for you, get in touch with us. 

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