Medical What challenges does a former foreign medical student face in applying to US medical schools?

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Sep 4, 2006
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I used to be a third year medical student in Ethiopia before immigrating to the US. Medical school takes 7 years to finish in Ethiopia so it’s different from here.

Medicine was my passion. I really didn’t want to leave the field. But the medical care patients used to receive in Ethiopia was so insufficient and at times more detrimental to their health.

I witnessed an immunocompromised SLE patient that stayed in the same room as a TDR TB patient die. I witnessed a surgery where patients were improperly anesthetized and yelled in pain in the middle of the surgery. I witnessed a midwife slap a delivering mother because she said she can’t push any harder. I witnessed many patients die from hospital acquired infections which could have been managed or prevented if it were here in the US.

Witnessing the above things and being unable to do nothing used to hurt me a lot. I knew there was a problem with the system that I couldn’t change which is why I quit medical school there to come to the US in hopes of getting better training and then help my country of origin in the future.

I am currently a premed. I will be applying to medical school in 2021. I am concerned that the fact that I was a previous medical student in Ethiopia might put me at a disadvantage when applying to med school in the US and I wanted to ask you if that is something I should be concerned about. I withdrew by following proper procedures and paid debts. God Bless!

Yes, it's possible that previous medical school matriculation may affect your chances of getting into a US medical school. There are other hurdles as well:
1) Are you applying as a US green card holder or asylee, or as an international applicant?
2) If you are an international applicant, you will not be eligible for federal loans, so how will you pay your tuition and fees? Some med schools require you to put 1-4 years of expenses into an escrow account to prove you can pay.
3) Have you had a transcript translation service interpret your grade reports from Ethiopia? Med schools may ask to see this, since foreign transcripts are not accepted by med school application services.
4) Did you leave your medical school with high grades on your record? Did any of your credits from Ethiopia transfer to your current college? If so, be aware that you will need to take all the typical med school prerequisites at a US college.
5) What is your US GPA? International applicants tend to be held to a higher standard by MD schools and you will need to be a superstar.

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