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Oct 16, 2015
10
2
Hey everyone,

The very first thing I want to do is to sincerely apologize for the text wall... But I would really appreciate it if you would read everything I wrote. With all due respect, I know that your time is important. But if you could, please take the time to read everything. If you don't, I have a Tl;Dr section at the bottom of the post if you want to read that. Please answer whichever inquiry you can as that would help me a lot.

I am a Singaporean who has never studied in Singapore or a British curriculum before. My father is an expatriate who has moved myself and my family to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and we now reside in Bangkok. Throughout my years outside of my home country, I have gone to international schools which follow an American style of teaching but allow students to take the IB diploma. (I have also skipped a grade if that changes anything)

First
I want to be a doctor (as I'm sure everyone like me will say). I see myself as a doctor in the future. Or I would hope to see it. But because I am a Singaporean, I am also a foreign/international to schools in the US and UK. I have done a lot of research on the medical school system in the US and realize that it is difficult to get accepted as an international student and the chances are incredibly slim. Much of the information and tips I have researched online suggest international students to study and become qualified in their home country. For my case, Singapore. But my grades are already really bad so I pretty much have no hope anywhere.

I completely bombed my grades so far. My freshman year finished with a 3.61 GPA (unweighted). I just completed my first semester of sophomore year and got a 3.63 GPA (unweighted). With these grades I feel very hopeless in making it into NUS Medical School in Singapore and any other medical school really.
(BTW about the fact that my GPA is all unweighted: I will be taking the IB diploma which means that I will not have any weighted subjects in my freshman and sophomore year)​
So I was wondering if I would be able to make it into any medical school and if any of you out there can give me advice on this.

Second
I'm also slightly curious on the number of years it would take for me for residency/fellowship in the US and the UK. I know that you have to take 8 years of undergrad + med school till you get a MD. This is followed by residency/fellowship which lasts for about 3-7 years + 1-2 years. I haven't done much research on the UK system yet but I know you work for 5 years to get an MBBS. So can someone explain the total years it would take in the UK to become a qualified doctor?

If possible, I would also like to know how the system in Australia works too.​

Third
As mentioned in my first point, much of my research on medical programs in the US and UK have led to the conclusion of studying in one's home country due to the costs. Not only do I fear that I will not be able to get accepted into any medical schools, I may not have the sufficient funds to pay for medical school. (This is mostly for going to the US as it is my main plan)

Are there any scholarships/financial aids that I can apply to outside of school or something? Or are there schools that give scholarships/financial aids?

Fourth (Just for US I think)
Another reason why it is difficult for international students to become qualified in the US that I've found out is the fact that residency chances are slim. Is it truly difficult for students that have been accepted into med school in the US to be accepted for residency as well?

Fifth
I was wondering about what courses I should take. My initial game plan to get into med school in the US was to do engineering + pre med. Maybe in mechanical engineering (been interested in aerospace engineering since young). Maybe computer science (only if I can't do engineering)
My grades are not as high as they could be due to my humanities and english classes. As writing is definitely not my forte and has never been my forte since young, they drag my grade down with B+. My mathematics average of an A is also considered reasonably high compared to the rest of my classmates. My sciences are also quite strong with my Biology 1 course ending with an A and my Physics 2 course finishing with a B+.
(I got a B+ in physics only because it took me the entire semester to figure out how to write a good lab report. My first three lab reports of the semester were B-, B, and C+. But I wrote a very lengthy lab report at the end of the term which got an A. My physics exam was also an A-, higher than the class average by 5 marks out of 100. So I think I can probably do better in my next semester.)​

Anyways, as mentioned above, I would like to major in something super mathy because I enjoy maths (but enjoy sciences even more). So for my science courses for my junior and senior year of high school, I initially decided to opt for physics and chemistry. (Because you can only take two unless you are super freaking smart [which I am not] and want to kill yourself with the IB.)

So all was well. Until I decided to look at UK medical schools. Because my entire family is Singaporean, my cousins are following a UK (A-Level) curriculum. I am the only person actually being exposed to an American style --> IB curriculum at this point. Students who take the A-Level examinations are allowed to take all 3 sciences. This is where another concern comes in. Because a general requirement of going into the medical field is Biology, I may not be able to apply to the UK medical schools. (Again, someone please confirm this for me)

Since I would like to take physics and chemistry, I will have no time to take biology. Will this affect my chances of getting into a UK/Australian med school? Or should I just completely give up on engineering and physics to take biology and chemistry instead? (I enjoy all the sciences equally.)

Sixth (Final Inquiry)
Lastly, as promised, my cousin from Singapore who doesn't take medicine (she majored in chemistry) told me that in order to get into NUS in Singapore, I will have to do some form of volunteer work at a hospital before my undergrad/MBBS if I were to choose NUS or a British curriculum in general. Is this true?

To fulfill that requirement, if it is necessary to go to the UK or Australian medical schools with prior volunteer work at a hospital, can I just take a summer course in the US or the UK related to medicine? I also don't know if I will have the time to be able to do all of these while I do the IB diploma, I also have no prior clinical experience.

Sincerely,
Chanze3



Tl;Dr
1. Singaporean having trouble with grades in an international curriculum away from her home country.
2. Want to go to US for med school as first choice but thinking about UK now so wondering about system there.
3. Insufficient funds so any scholarships/financial aids?
4. Is it hard to get accepted to residency in the US? Not sure about UK either.
5. Want to be undergrad engineer in US curriculum so taking physics/chem. But if apply to UK I need bio. Can only take two. What courses should I do?
6. Volunteer work prior to MBBS.
 
Last edited:

Winged Scapula

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still no one able to answer any of my inquiries? :(

-Bump
1) It's a holiday weekend in the US so most people are probably enjoying time spent with family and friends.

2) SDN is a volunteer team a full-time students and physicians who may not have the opportunity on a busy holiday weekend to answer the multiple questions you've asked in their spare time.

3) Most of the people in this forum are high school students such as yourself and have little to no understanding of US medical education let alone that in other countries.

However, I do, and I will try to answer your questions as best I can to little bit later after work today.
 
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Oct 16, 2015
10
2
1) It's a holiday weekend in the US so most people are probably enjoying time spent with family and friends.

2) SDN is a volunteer team a full-time students and physicians who may not have the opportunity on a busy holiday weekend to answer the multiple questions you've asked in their spare time.

3) Most of the people in this forum are high school students such as yourself and have little to no understanding of US medical education let alone that in other countries.

However, I do, and I will try to answer your questions as best I can to little bit later after work today.
Sorry man... Thanks so much! I'm still kinda new here and am in a different time zone. Have a nice weekend and I sincerely apologize for being so impatient :(
 

URHere

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Nov 20, 2007
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I can't help you with any information about the UK and Australian systems, but I'll answer your questions as best I can about training in the USA.

First, if you are looking to complete US medical school, your best chance is to also attend undergrad/college in the United States. You would then apply to medical school in your third year of college (or later if you want extra time for research, improving grades, etc). In college, you can major in anything you want as long as you take all of the courses required for medical school admission (mostly science, math, some english). The hurdle is that college is expensive here (I would guess about $50,000 per year is average) and there are usually fewer financial aid and loan options for international students. You can find some of this information online, but it may come down to applying, waiting for your financial aid package, and then deciding whether or not you can actually attend.

As for medical school, that is also very expensive and whether or not you get in will depend on how you do in college and on your standardized exams. Going to college in the US is no guarantee that you will get into medical school here. Some schools may not accept non-citizens, and others may reserve just a few spots for those international applicants. Overall, you'll probably have a harder time getting in than someone raised in the United States. Many loans will also not be available to you and scholarship money is less common at the medical school level unless you're a superstar.

My main point is that if you come to the USA wanting to be a physician, there are many points where things could just stop working. That being said, if you get into college, do well, get into medical school, figure out how to pay for it (likely $200,000-300,000 total), and graduate with good test scores and clinical grades, you would have a pretty good chance at a residency. People with issues in the US match are generally those who completed medical school in other countries. People from US medical schools have much less trouble if they apply to enough reasonable programs.

Best of luck.
 
Oct 16, 2015
10
2
I can't help you with any information about the UK and Australian systems, but I'll answer your questions as best I can about training in the USA.

First, if you are looking to complete US medical school, your best chance is to also attend undergrad/college in the United States. You would then apply to medical school in your third year of college (or later if you want extra time for research, improving grades, etc). In college, you can major in anything you want as long as you take all of the courses required for medical school admission (mostly science, math, some english). The hurdle is that college is expensive here (I would guess about $50,000 per year is average) and there are usually fewer financial aid and loan options for international students. You can find some of this information online, but it may come down to applying, waiting for your financial aid package, and then deciding whether or not you can actually attend.

As for medical school, that is also very expensive and whether or not you get in will depend on how you do in college and on your standardized exams. Going to college in the US is no guarantee that you will get into medical school here. Some schools may not accept non-citizens, and others may reserve just a few spots for those international applicants. Overall, you'll probably have a harder time getting in than someone raised in the United States. Many loans will also not be available to you and scholarship money is less common at the medical school level unless you're a superstar.

My main point is that if you come to the USA wanting to be a physician, there are many points where things could just stop working. That being said, if you get into college, do well, get into medical school, figure out how to pay for it (likely $200,000-300,000 total), and graduate with good test scores and clinical grades, you would have a pretty good chance at a residency. People with issues in the US match are generally those who completed medical school in other countries. People from US medical schools have much less trouble if they apply to enough reasonable programs.

Best of luck.
Thanks for the information. While I was reading your post, I was thinking that what if I were to study in Australia or Singapore or wherever offers an undergrad med degree, can I still apply for residency in the US? The residency part is the most confusing... I know I have to take something called the USMLE but for this test I only get one chance? There are three steps to this test that I know of. But is it possible for me to do residency in the States then?
 

URHere

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Nov 20, 2007
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Thanks for the information. While I was reading your post, I was thinking that what if I were to study in Australia or Singapore or wherever offers an undergrad med degree, can I still apply for residency in the US? The residency part is the most confusing... I know I have to take something called the USMLE but for this test I only get one chance? There are three steps to this test that I know of. But is it possible for me to do residency in the States then?
You can still apply, but your chances aren't great. Just under 50% of non-US citizen international applicants ended up anywhere during last year's application cycle and many of these people were fully-trained physicians in their home countries. There is a lot of self-selection here too - unless applicants have excellent good scores and grades they often don't even try to apply to US residency.

As for USMLE, yes there are 3 parts, with the second part broken into 2 different exams: Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 are multiple choice computer tests, while Step 2 CS requires you to fly to the US and interact with patient actors. For someone who trained in the US, Step 1 is generally all that is required to apply for residency. For someone who trained abroad, you would be expected to take Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS before applying and get good scores on your first try. Some international graduates will also take Step 3 before applying, but it isn't required. If you fail any of them, you can take the test again but your changes of securing a residency go way down. If you pass (even with the lowest score possible), that's what you're stuck with and your chances also go down.
 
Oct 16, 2015
10
2
You can still apply, but your chances aren't great. Just under 50% of non-US citizen international applicants ended up anywhere during last year's application cycle and many of these people were fully-trained physicians in their home countries. There is a lot of self-selection here too - unless applicants have excellent good scores and grades they often don't even try to apply to US residency.

As for USMLE, yes there are 3 parts, with the second part broken into 2 different exams: Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 3 are multiple choice computer tests, while Step 2 CS requires you to fly to the US and interact with patient actors. For someone who trained in the US, Step 1 is generally all that is required to apply for residency. For someone who trained abroad, you would be expected to take Step 1, Step 2 CK, and Step 2 CS before applying and get good scores on your first try. Some international graduates will also take Step 3 before applying, but it isn't required. If you fail any of them, you can take the test again but your changes of securing a residency go way down. If you pass (even with the lowest score possible), that's what you're stuck with and your chances also go down.
So would it be more advisable for me to go to med school in USA if I want to migrate there in the future? I would like to work in the USA in the future but I've read in multiple forums and websites that it's very difficult for doctors with foreign qualifications to practice in the US.
 

URHere

10+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2007
1,784
567
Status
Attending Physician
So would it be more advisable for me to go to med school in USA if I want to migrate there in the future? I would like to work in the USA in the future but I've read in multiple forums and websites that it's very difficult for doctors with foreign qualifications to practice in the US.
Yes. If you want to end up in the US, you should go to medical school there. Just remember that it isn't like the UK and Australia - you cannot enter medical school straight from high school. You will need 4 years of college before you can begin medical school, and getting into US college does not guarantee you a medical school spot.
 
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