oskagar

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Jan 21, 2009
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I'm a graduated physician from one of the "top" medical schools in Mexico.

I'm 28 years old and am planing to re-study medicine in the US. I know this sounds crazy, but I'm completely unsatisfied with the way I "learned" medicine in Mexico.

Studying medicine in Mexico has been disappointing at best. Basically Mexico is in the 1800's. I'm not joking, back in those days, before Osler and the institution of Johns Hopkins as the model for Medical education, medical schools in the US pumped out a lot of quacks. Basically they hired local physicians to teach random courses without proper and formal structuring of the curricula. It was easier to enter medical school than to enter a formal university. Mexico is somewhat similar in that sense if not worse.

I've met many physicians, specialists in their countries, that come to the US and start their specialty from scratch. So I figure, why can't I start medical school from scratch.

My ideal would be to earn an MD then do IM, then Hem/Onc and tie that with a PhD in cancer biology.

I love Mexico and its people, I love the culture and the food. OMG the food! But sadly, education wise, Mexico offers no opportunities to fulfill my personal academic goals.

So does anyone here have any insight on this subject? Comments, ideas, constructive criticism?

Am I crazy?
 

DrMidlife

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Am I crazy?
Mostly.

First, you won't get very far without being a US citizen or permanent resident (greencarded). So hopefully you have that going for you.

Second, you need to compete to get into a US med school. The basis of competition is undergrad GPA and MCAT score, but your competition also has multiple years of clinical and community volunteering, and multiple faculty recommendations. If you don't have a bachelors degree, which I understand isn't required for a majority of non-US med schools, then you generally have to get one. If you didn't complete your prereqs (one year each, with labs, of genchem/ochem/bio/physics) in the US, you pretty much have to do/redo them in the US. Which most likely means you need to get a US undergrad degree before you can apply to US med school.

On the theme of competition, you should be aware that the US educational system is a huge shock to those educated elsewhere, and it would be a mistake to assume that you'll thrive in it. Thus, the average 3.6 GPA and average 31-32 MCAT score may be horrifyingly painful for you to reach. This is a smart vs. savvy problem, as I understand it.

Third, assuming you can make it past the above, you'll need to come up with about $300,000, probably more like $400,000. Usually this is borrowed using federal student loans, which mostly accrue interest until you can start paying them off during/after residency.

While it's possible to get an MD separately from a PhD here, it's highly impractical outside the MSTP program which pays for it. MSTP acceptances are nearly as competitive as NASA astronaut acceptances.

Look for posts by ScottishChap about general "international" issues; also see the "international" forums.

Best of luck to you.
 

Pons Asinorum

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Third, assuming you can make it past the above, you'll need to come up with about $300,000, probably more like $400,000. Usually this is borrowed using federal student loans, which mostly accrue interest until you can start paying them off during/after residency.
I would also point out that most programs will require you, as a foreign applicant, to have that entire amount for tuition for four years (something north of $150k) placed into escrow. Basically, you'll have to write the school a $200k check, up front. Not having access to federally-backed student loans raises serious financial roadblocks.
 

DrMidlife

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I would also point out that most programs will require you, as a foreign applicant, to have that entire amount for tuition for four years (something north of $150k) placed into escrow. Basically, you'll have to write the school a $200k check, up front. Not having access to federally-backed student loans raises serious financial roadblocks.
Correct - and/but my attitude is that the foreign applicant pathway isn't viable here.

Per AAMC, in 2010, there were 1340 foreign applicants to US MD schools, and 191 matriculants. It's my understanding that those who get in fit into categories like these:
- top .0000001% of their class in another country AND completed a degree in the US, highly competitive stats
- refugee status, educated in the US, highly competitive stats
- Canadian with highly competitive stats (Canadian education system is very similar to US, unlike the rest of the world)

If the above is an incorrect understanding, I'd be interested to know.
 
Jun 18, 2010
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If are a legal permanent resident, wouldn't it be easier for you to take the Steps and enter a residency? I know a lot of foreign medical graduates who took that route.
 
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oskagar

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Amazing, I didn't expect these sort of responses, thank you for taking time to read and answer, this is very helpful.

OK, just so you guys can get a better understanding of how my situation is structured:

1) "Bachelor's degree + Competitiveness + the educational differences and challenges"

I have my medical degree from Mexico. Here our degrees are licenses (Mexico's B.S o B.A.), not a doctorate. And yes you are correct, I didn't get the prerequisite courses. Went to medicine after high school directly. I was considering to take something like this to satisfy the requirement issue:

http://www.extension.harvard.edu/programs/hcp/admission/

I'm well prepared in the prerequisite areas. Since in Mexico we don't have to take the courses, I went through them by myself and recently I took the OpenCourseWare classes from MIT.

The hard core academic challenge is what I'm actually looking forward to! I've taken courses in US schools and I feel in love with em.

With regards to volunteering and clinical experience, well I am a certified physician here and have seen thousands of patients. =P

I also have some clinical experience in the US plus letters of recommendation from faculty at UCSD, UTMSH and MDACC.

2) "Immigration status + language"

Speak/write english like a native, slang and all. Married to an american girl, greencard on the way. Will I be able to apply for financial aid?

3) "Taking the USMLE + ECFMG route"

Considered it as well, but satisfaction wise I don't think it would be the best way. I understand that many physicians go to the US mostly for better quality of life and economy. Most of them go on to primary care, and honestly, that just isn't for me.

I'm not doing this for money only, I mean of course I'm partly doing it for the money, but I'm thinking about it because one has to look for satisfaction. In Mexico there's no support for research or academic projects, and I want those experiences. Residency is mostly clinical work and I love it, but I want to expand myself to the fullest in medical science as a whole, not just clinical science.

Basically I just want an opportunity to learn modern medicine, REAL modern medicine and kick ass at it.

Plus I want the tools and recognition necessary to effect change in my country's system.

So, any thoughts, thanks again guys!
 

DrMidlife

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Went to medicine after high school directly. I was considering to take something like this to satisfy the requirement issue:

http://www.extension.harvard.edu/programs/hcp/admission/

I'm well prepared in the prerequisite areas. Since in Mexico we don't have to take the courses, I went through them by myself and recently I took the OpenCourseWare classes from MIT.

The hard core academic challenge is what I'm actually looking forward to! I've taken courses in US schools and I feel in love with em.
To get into a US MD school, I think you need to do a *regular* undergrad degree in the US, in a 4yr university, not online, not extension, not just the med school requirements, and you'll want to have a very high GPA (such as a 3.7 or better). Take a look at some US med school admissions web pages, and you'll see that there are only a tiny number of med students who don't have a bachelors degree. Please don't assume you get to be one of those exceptions. You should definitely get your degree evaluated, and get as much "transfer" credit as you can at a US undergrad university, but you should assume that there's a large body of "general ed" such as history and geography that you will need to take. You might be able to get done in 2-3 years if you go full time.
With regards to volunteering and clinical experience, well I am a certified physician here and have seen thousands of patients. =P

I also have some clinical experience in the US plus letters of recommendation from faculty at UCSD, UTMSH and MDACC.
Great - part of clinical volunteering is to expose people to the business and administration of US health care. If you think there's any rhyme or reason to US healthcare, for example, then you haven't been exposed enough.
Speak/write english like a native, slang and all. Married to an american girl, greencard on the way. Will I be able to apply for financial aid?
Yes, a greencard is permanent residency status, which is eligibility for federal aid. You have to keep your credit history clean as well. See other threads about raising a family and keeping a marriage together.

I want to encourage you to solidify your goals, but to be creative and flexible in how you meet them. A US MD is obviously a "convenient" asset, and a US MD/PhD more so, but these are on the far extreme end of time, energy and money spent. You're giving up opportunities to take this on, and you're removing yourself from wealth creation and a lot of family life, which you might not be able to appreciate until the suckage kicks in.

Best of luck to you.
 

mspeedwagon

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Oct 20, 2009
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I agree with everything below EXCEPT the regular 4 yr degree. For most foreign grads it is 90 credit hrs (which includes the pre-req), which is about 3 yrs. Some schools will accept pre-reqs + a masters degree (though, you'd have to check with individual schools). Scottish chap (or something like that) has a lot of posts about this.

To get into a US MD school, I think you need to do a *regular* undergrad degree in the US, in a 4yr university, not online, not extension, not just the med school requirements, and you'll want to have a very high GPA (such as a 3.7 or better). Take a look at some US med school admissions web pages, and you'll see that there are only a tiny number of med students who don't have a bachelors degree. Please don't assume you get to be one of those exceptions. You should definitely get your degree evaluated, and get as much "transfer" credit as you can at a US undergrad university, but you should assume that there's a large body of "general ed" such as history and geography that you will need to take. You might be able to get done in 2-3 years if you go full time.

Great - part of clinical volunteering is to expose people to the business and administration of US health care. If you think there's any rhyme or reason to US healthcare, for example, then you haven't been exposed enough.

Yes, a greencard is permanent residency status, which is eligibility for federal aid. You have to keep your credit history clean as well. See other threads about raising a family and keeping a marriage together.

I want to encourage you to solidify your goals, but to be creative and flexible in how you meet them. A US MD is obviously a "convenient" asset, and a US MD/PhD more so, but these are on the far extreme end of time, energy and money spent. You're giving up opportunities to take this on, and you're removing yourself from wealth creation and a lot of family life, which you might not be able to appreciate until the suckage kicks in.

Best of luck to you.