Medical How difficult is it applying as an international student to MD programs?

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Sep 4, 2006
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How much of a detriment is it to apply to MD programs as an international student (non-Canadian)? I have a B.S. from the US, I've lived here for almost 6 years now and work in a respected job/company and have no accent. My parents and I have also saved up to pay for tuition without Financial Aid.

I'm well acclimated to the culture and one of the major talking points of my PS is that I'm able to assimilate into different environments due to my background as an expatriate.
The AAMC data is available for you to view (tables A-3 and A-4) at: 2018 FACTS: Applicants and Matriculants Data

In 2018-2019 there were 1195 applicants with legal residence not in the US and 97 matriculants from that group, which comes out to a 8.1% matriculation rate compared to a roughly 40% overall matriculation rate for all applicants. For applicants with residence unknown, 86 of 301 applicants matriculated, for a 28% matriculation rate.

Having a US bachelors degree & English fluency will work in your favor.

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Could you be more specific on your status as an "international student"? Are you a permanent resident now or are you on track to being one? What were the circumstances for your family to relocate to the United States? You also haven't really disclosed your MCAT or sGPA that I can find.
I am not a permanent resident. I moved to the US for my undergraduate degree and I am currently working in the US on my student visa (F-1 STEM OPT).

My family still lives abroad and I support myself right now. Part of my PS goes over the identity crisis of being an expat in a different country (from where you were born and ethnically identify with) -> moving to the US.

My sGPA is around 3.4 and cGPA is 3.55. I understand these stats are really low for any applicant, more so for international students. My MCAT is 518 (96% percentile when I took it).

As for relevant ECs:
  • Currently working as a consultant in a Big 4 consulting firm (worked on healthcare projects) + internship with major pharma company
  • Co-founder of service club in college that works with disadvantaged communities locally and internationally (won national leadership award through national chapter of club)
  • Shadowing and clinical experience (over multiple years but on holiday breaks) through volunteering in a developing country, working with patients in an uncomfortable setting (hospital community for patients with a certain stigmatized condition)
  • Conducted research at two different university labs
  • Great LORs: 2 from upper-level science professors that I was a TA for and 1 from Senior Manager at my current company
  • Other various college ECs that demonstrate character traits (ex. communication, teamwork, leadership, etc.)

Thank you for sharing. The issues outside of a transcript review that I think are going to result in discussion:
1) Your international status: not eligible for federal loans and medicine clearly does not tend to consider those who are not eligible for those loans due to concerns about debt and licensure. Hopefully you can talk to the schools that show they are the rare exception.
2) Shadowing experiences: it's not clear how much of your experience was done in the United States since medical education here is very based in hospital settings and the greatest need is for caring for people in primary care situations. You probably have insights on the business-pharma regulatory relationships and dynamics at the leadership level, but have you been able to connect your consultant/internship insights into an impact at the hospitals at the bedside?

That said, I don't know if there are any other health fields that are less restrictive when it comes to being a physician. Being a physician assistant or similar (surgical assistant, anesthesiology assistant) might be more welcoming to international students especially if they can pay for the 24-ish months of education. You may want to check that out.
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