Medical schools in Europe or even Cuba?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by doctor4dapoor, May 14, 2008.

  1. doctor4dapoor

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    I heard about students going abroad to study medicine for various reasons. Here is a link to one: http://www.gotomedschool.com/index.html

    They claim that they have 6 year programs. So people who just got out of high school can go. This could be good for someone like me who had a low GPA in college, and never took pre-meds. They say it costs about 10K per semester, tuition, room and board, etc. But you can get it financed. Have you guys heard of people going to medical school in Hungary or other countries in Europe? Is it a good idea? Are they hard to get into? Any other thoughts you guys might have.

    Also, I read about Cuba. Do you guys have any info on that?
     
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  3. neurologist

    neurologist En garde
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    Yes.

    No.


    Not if you have the $$$$

    Most of these are truly "last resort" schools. I guess there are probably a few reputable ones (Ireland comes to mind) but for the most part they should be avoided.


    Are you a US citizen? That would make Cuba illegal.
     
  4. Luxian

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    There are some programs for med study abroad. You may want to check out the Atlantic Bridge Program which sets up Canadian and American students in Irish Schools. (There's a common app, so it makes it a little easier.) However, there are couple things you should know.

    1) Make sure the cost you are looking at is the foreign student cost. Med school is cheap in Britain for the British, but not for Americans, so beware. Also, just double check to make sure all those numbers are in dollars, not Euros!

    2) It's doubly hard for students to practice in the United States if they've studied abroad. Basically, the hiring heirarchy is U.S.-citizen/ U.S.-educated over U.S. citizen / foreign educated over non-U.S. citizen/ foreign educated. You will have a much harder time getting residencies and getting jobs if you go this route. Then again, if you plan on staying in Europe for your career, it's definitely not a bad one.

    If you really do go this route AND you want to practice in the U.S., make sure to find a place that has pre-existing rotations in U.S. hospitals. If you can do a couple rotations in 4th year in a U.S. hospital, it should make things a little bit easier.
     
  5. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Luxian's advice is right on, though I disagree with this one:
    Americans who do not hold EU passports might find it difficult to get jobs in Europe. A medical degree from a given country does not automaticallly get you a work permit.
     
  6. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    doctor4dapoor- If you flat out can't get in to a US MD program, look at US DO. You will have many more residency opportunities than you would studying anywhere outside of the US.

    If you are not competitive for a DO program (or have your ego tied into the letters after your name), look offshore, but check out Carribean schools first. The big problem with European programs (including England and Ireland) is that they are not training U.S. doctors. They are training with their own procedures and protocols to pass their own examinations. Americans are accepted as an afterthought (and money maker) but you will be disadvantaged when you are applying to US residency programs. The bigger name Carribean programs will give you American training preparing you for your boards, etc.

    Do a postbac and see if you have any head for science. The attrition rate at international schools is phenomenal because you have a lot of students who will not have any chance of becoming doctors discovering this fact when they can't handle the basic sciences in years 1 and 2. Do your sciences via a postbac, see if you have what it takes, then start prioritizing your options.
     
  7. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    Cuba trains and exports doctors in vast numbers, way out of proportion to its size. There are about 80 US citizens enrolled at ELAM in Cuba. The first group of 8 graduated last July. It's a six year program - most students start out of high school. Tuition is free, subsidized by Cuba and Venezuela. Students are required to pass their home country's boards, so for us that's the USMLE. There's no data available on whether the new grads have secured US-based residencies.

    Wiki on the school: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_American_School_of_Medicine_%28Cuba%29

    There's a documentary about ELAM and Cuba's health system called "Salud" www.saludthefilm.net.

    Don't look to US media for news about Cuba - that's like looking to Iran for news about the US. Here's BBC coverage: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6914265.stm
     
  8. Perrotfish

    Perrotfish Has an MD in Horribleness
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    Just make sure you understant the legal maze of US liscensure that you are going to face after finishing at one of these foreign schools. Only US schools and a handful of carribiean schools will get you liscenced in the US without a tremendous hassle.
     
  9. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    If you're interested in practicing medicine in the U.S., Cuba is about the last place I would train. Nothing against their medical system or the medical education of Cuban physicians, but the prospect of trying to get into a US residency with an unaccredited medical degree from a country Americans are not legally allowed to visit is pretty daunting.

    If your goal is to be a PR tool for El Comandante and/or practice in Cuba the rest of your life, you're set. If your goal is to practice in the US, I'd stick with US MD, US DO or international programs with a long track record of having their graduates actually become licensed physicians in the United States.
     
  10. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    1. I'm not looking into going there; just trying to present factual information.
    2. ELAM is the gold standard for global underserved/anti-poverty medicine, which is apparently interesting to the OP. If you don't want the global part, I agree, Cuba's not going to help your US career.
    3. Raul's hardly Fidel.
    4. N=8. It's new.

    Edit: Florida voted overwhelmingly to prevent ELAM grads from practicing in Florida. I seriously doubt that any other state is going to care enough to do the same. http://havanajournal.com/cuban_americans/entry/florida-house-bans-cuban-trained-doctors-from-practicing-medicine-state/
     
  11. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Sorry, DrMidlife, if it sounded like I was slamming the Cuban medical system. I was trying to be careful to make it clear that I wasn't. I have a lot of time for what their doctors do.
    I realize that. I meant "you" in the "you need to eat your veggies to be healthy" sense. I suppose I should say "one", but I find it hard to do without sounding incredibly pretentious.
    I know that Cuba is very good about sending doctors on long-term humanitarian missions and that they have a top-notch reputation for this. But this happened long before ELAM and ELAM doesn't train these doctors anyway. Unless their mission has radically changed, ELAM consists entirely of international students. The gold standard reputation I'm familiar with in regards to global involvement comes from the good works of Cuban physicians, none of whom attended ELAM.
    My concern is with premeds who have unrealistic visions of medical school and the process of becoming a doctor. The idea of going abroad and getting your MD sounds great. I've lived abroad for a number of years, so I definitely see the attraction. But it's extremely risky to do this with your MD degree, which may or may not get recognized. My concern isn't that an ELAM degree will not help an applicant's career, my concern is that an ELAM degree could stop an applicant from having a career at all in the U.S.

    US policy in regards to Cuba could get better. Or it could get worse. International medical degrees are extremely risky. One from Cuba is about as risky as you can get. Caveat emptor.
     
  12. notdeadyet

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    ELAM was started by Fidel, not Raul. As for Raul being better than Fidel, I'll happily believe that when he opens up sanctioned elections. Until that, he's a dictator like his brother. Dictators have a track record of nastiness.

    Which brings up another point: who's to say that med school will continue to be free to Americans under Raul? Who's to say he won't stop training American med students tomorrow, or start charging his little capitalists exhorbiant tuition?
    Exactly. The prospect of studying medicine for 6 years and winding up with a degree that will not allow you your choice of medical specialties is very frightening.
    I doubt it too. I would be more concerned with the prospect of getting nothing but rejections come application time for residencies.

    Again, I am not one of these raving anti-Cuban types who believe the country is the anti-Christ. But I'm also not someone that has idealized notions of the country and sees happy images of sandy beaches, rum and cokes, and Che Guevara prints. I'm not willing to swallow the right wing garbage of Cuba as an evil empire, but I'm also not willing to overlook the horrible domestic human rights abuses (try being gay in Cuba) and the injustices that happen living under a strict regime that doesn't allow you to leave.

    Advice: Get into medical school in the United States, regardless of your desire for international exposure. You'll have plenty of opportunity to get lots of great international experience both while in medical school and especailly after.

    If you are trying for an MD and unable to get in to an allopathic, go osteopathic. If you are unable to get in to either, go international, but go to one with a proven track record of placing graduates in great residencies. Very few international medical schools have this.

    And regardless of whatever you do, be very, very careful about attending any new internaitonal medical school. They spring up constantly, run 10 or 20 years in terrible conditions and crash and burn, leaving graduates with a tough time getting into residency programs. If you're interested in Cuba's school, look into it in 10 years time (if it's still available to Americans). If you hear great stories of graduates getting into residencies, hab at it. Until then, you're rolling the dice with a lot of years of your life.
     
  13. barcalounger

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  14. Law2Doc

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    Short answer -- if you plan on practicing in the US, your odds of landing a desirable residency in the US are SIGNIFICANTLY better if you go to school in the US. Period. Fix your GPA, take the prereqs and get into a US school. The more different a foreign system is from the US, the harder it is going to be to get back to the US system. So no, if you plan to be a US doctor, leave Cuba, Hungary, etc off your list. You need to go to a US school or one that closely models the US school and gears you toward the US licensing exams. There are a number of carribean med schools that are geared toward US residencies, so I would look to those as your (distant) second choice if you cannot get into a US school.
     
  15. princekc

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    you've gotten lots of good advises/recommendation thus far. Apply broadly (MD/DO); if no luck then consider offshore (preferably, Carribean Med sch)
     
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  17. doctor4dapoor

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    Hey Neurologist, actually Cuba has a program for US citizens. I just read about it.

    Can you elaborate on why European schools are not worth it.
     
  18. doctor4dapoor

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    First of all, thank you everyone for your responses. Very helpful.

    Luxian, actually I plan on practicing in a 3rd world country, Africa maybe, for an org. like Medicin Sans Frontiers, or even a lesser known one, or just a hospital in one of those countries. The reason I am thinking about last resort schools is because I had a bad GPA, I don't have any pre-meds (I majored in English at University), and I want to go to a 6 year that incorporates all that. Unfortunately I don't think I could get into any medical school in America. I simply don't have the GPA. And if I did post doc and Mcats here it would take me too long. If you have any comments with this in mind, I would def. appreciate it.

    Thanks again,
     
  19. doctor4dapoor

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    All the 8 are working as docs in the US, all in low income communities. That is a provision of going to that school in Cuba.
     
  20. doctor4dapoor

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    I will def. heed the advice of doing a post-doc to see if I can even handle the sciences. Is a city college an OK route to go or should I apply to a 4 year?

    My hope is that a program in Africa (not for this reason of course) will be much more lax on allowing (letting) doctors with European degrees etc. to work for them.
     
  21. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Huh? I don't see how this can be. All 8 should either be in their first year of internship or still trying to get internships. I took a quick hunt and all I could find was a graduate trying to pass the USMLE's and get an internship.

    Source, please?
     
  22. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    You keep missing a big piece of this puzzle, which is getting residency. All of the reputable aid organizations will require board certification and usually a couple of years of experience.

    Also, I'm not sure if you understand how development work usually works. Developing nations do not usually have the money to hire western doctors. They rely on either physicians working for governmental aid organizations or NGOs. The former are competitive slots to get and the latter are still looking for qualified doctors.

    So leave MSF and "Africa" for right now and first work on becoming a well trained, competent physician. That comes from a good medical school and (more importantly) a good residency.

    What troubles me about your approach, doctor4dapoor, is that you are shooting for the lowest denominator. You don't want to work on repairing your GPA or taking the MCAT because it would "take too long". If you're not willing to go to this effort, it's kind of hard visualizing you surviving at one of these low-end medical schools, which are notoriously high attrition and have much less support for students available. If you're searching for the easiest possible way to get MD after your name by doing as little work as quickly as possible, development work might not be your calling.

    (NOTE: When I talk about "low-end medical schools", I am not referring to international medical schools as a whole. But doctor4dapoor is talking about looking for schools that will take him without a science background, without an MCAT and with a poor GPA. Schools that accept any candidate with a pulse and a checkbook tend to be "low-end". They exist in every country. This is not a slight on the excellent medical schools you will find in just about every country; these schools do not accept unqualified applicants)
     
  23. DrMidlife

    DrMidlife has an opinion

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    Yeah, I spent a fair amount of time yesterday looking for an ELAM grad in a US residency. I found all 8 names and searched them individually, looked at their home town newspapers, etc. A claim that one grad was working at a hospital in the Bronx didn't turn out to show him working as a physician. I hope some journalist follows up on this. There will be a new batch of grads shortly, as well.
     
  24. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Thanks for doing the groundwork, DrMidlife. I personally think that Castro's invitation for American students to attend ELAM has a lot more to do with his style of PR/rhetoric than ultruistic motives (much like offering aid to help in Katrina due to our president's ignoring of the African American community. Say what you want about Castro, the guy is slick).

    That said, I'm pretty confident that most if not all of the US students attending the school are there for good reasons and I'll tightly keep my fingers crossed that they are able to get into some kind of residency when they get back. I also hope that they still want to do primary care and not radiology or somesuch.

    Politic aside, I just can't imagine what it would be like to do six years of medical school all for naught. What a tragedy that would be. I hope these folks land on their feet okay.
     
  25. princekc

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    doctor4dapoor, you got to listen to what this people here are telling you. I wish you the best!
     
  26. doctor4dapoor

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    not, maybe you are right. Here is an article. I do remember reading that one of them works in the states in a low income community, or is a resident there.

    Sorry if I misunderstood;)
     
  27. doctor4dapoor

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    Notdeadyet, thanks, that is really good advice. I am quite ignorant on these matters. My only assets in the field is that I love medicine (although I might not know enough about it to love it), the idea of studying the sciences appeals to me, and I want to help the poorest of the poor as a doctor. I graduated with English lit and have since started a record label that failed, lived in Israel to study the jewelery business and now work in my family's jewelry business. So I admit that I am ignorant. I did volunteer a lot and co-founded Students for a Free Tibet at UCSB, so I def. know that what I want out of life is to help the poor. Before I get responses of how ignorant I might be or that I should do something else, I understand that. I appreciate the judgments, but I am 29, I am not a complete fool. With that said, I also very much appreciate you guys taking time to help me out, because I know that what you guys say is true. I don't really want to be a doctor with as little work as possible, I just don't know how to go about doing it. I see what you mean when you say that I should do post-doc. How do I go about doing that?

    Thanks again, I really do appreciate your guys' time.

    Peace
     
  28. doctor4dapoor

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    Notdeadyet, what is a DO?

    Peace and gratitude
     
  29. doctor4dapoor

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    I figured out what a DO, I thought it was an osteopath. Now...what is the difference as far as my possibilities of getting into a DO school as opposed to a Med school? Would it be much more likely? Residency etc.?
     
  30. doctor4dapoor

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    Notdeadyet,

    I understand. Makes perfect sense. Thanks for the reality check too. Now, the reason I was thinking of these European schools is because they offer 6 year programs. As if I am coming straight out of high school. Which would mean for me a fresh start and I can do my premeds the way their HS students do it. I also understand that their HS students are well versed in sciences. That is the main reason why I wanted to try one of these approaches.

    In closing, would you say that the best thing I should do is do post-doc, do my MCATS, and apply for schools in the US?

    I guess for advice on that I can check the board.

    For all the other people who thought that perhaps Euro schools could be OK, if you have any other words of wisdom, I would greatly appreciate it.

    Much love
     
  31. doctor4dapoor

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    What if I plan on practicing outside the US?
     
  32. doctor4dapoor

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    I will focus on the important things you spoke about, but just so I can read a bit on it, can you give me some name of NGOs that are looking for qualified docs? I am just interested in learning about them.
     
  33. doctor4dapoor

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    OK, I'm definitely not studying in Cuba:) So my ideas are doing the post-doc and staying in the states or going to a good one in Europe.
     
  34. doctor4dapoor

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  35. vikingvallhalla

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    From what I know having lived in Switzerland the past 3 years and considered going here, here's my 0.02$.
    Education here is basically free, about 600$ a semester. The program is 6 years long right out of high school. In order to attend you need to pass a language entrance exam (German of French) and if you only have a HS diploma you also need to pass an exam that proves you know what the Swiss HS graduates know (geography, history, math...). In order to take advantage of this opportunity you need to have one of several reasons to be in Switzerland, like being married to a Swiss citizen, having Swiss parents or parents with at least a Swiss C permit.
    Assuming you can and do go through with it, there are some schools which require an entrance exam. Its mostly a logic exam, and they put all the test takers results on a bell curve and take roughly the top 40%. There are two school which don't require the test, Geneva and Lausanne. They do however cut several hundred students each year for the first two years.
    I don't know where I saw them, but I saw statistics that said less than 20% of foreign educated doctors pass the USMLE, and matching is very painful for them because they are THE last people on the list.
    Since I want to practice in the US, I chose to forgo the Swiss option, and am applying this year. I think thats what it comes down to. Study where you want to practice.
     
  36. njbmd

    njbmd Guest
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    Moving to European forum.
     
  37. princes

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    What are the living conditions like at ELAM and how good is their education for someone who wants to practise in Africa?
     

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