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Looking to Study Medicine Overseas?

Wed 30 Jun 2021    
Guest View | 3 min read

If you are an aspiring medical student seeking to study medicine overseas, here are 5 factors should keep in mind.

Prospective UAE medical students looking to study medicine abroad have a raft of international options available. To help pupils with this critical career decision, Bob Ryan, Dean of Admissions at St. George’s University, Grenada, offers some guidance to choosing the best medical school.

Many would-be medical students from the UAE looking at international education options will have found themselves navigating the overseas medical school application process – a procedure that can be incredibly intimidating and fraught with challenges.

Ryan agrees that for UAE hopefuls, “selecting the best medical school option is not an easy task and needs careful consideration”.

To assist those UAE students currently contemplating studying overseas as stepping-stone to a career in medicine, Bob Ryan offers the following guidance, providing an honest and holistic checklist of factors that students should consider before making any final decision:

You’ve probably known of several great medical schools for most of your life. Programs create that name recognition by developing a history of educating successful graduates. A successful alumni network is an excellent measure of a successful medical school. For example, St. George’s University has contributed over 18,000 physicians to the global physician workforce, with students, graduates, and faculty from over 150 countries. They have practised in every state in the US, as well as in more than 50 countries.

Look for a university with a storied reputation when it comes to graduating physicians to the global workforce.

Selecting the best medical school option is not an easy task and needs careful consideration.

No aspiring medical student should be too picky when it comes to location. Gaining acceptance to a quality medical school is tough. That said, you can certainly keep location in the back of your mind if you find yourself s with multiple options.

The location also comes into play later on. Some medical students, and perhaps your child, already know where they want to practice one day. Your son or daughter may have a better chance of securing a residency in that area if they’re able to meet physicians through volunteer work or clinical rotations. This means it’s also important to look into where a schools’ clinical rotations take place, some programs offer a variety of options for students.

Most importantly, medical schools with multiple global locations may also appeal to UAE-based students due to their exposure to international education. An array of curricula, residency programs or study placement options in various countries would provide a well-rounded education and solid opportunities for embarking on a medical career at home in the UAE or abroad.

With many physicians from the UAE educated under US educational frameworks and many hospitals operating under US-led best practice guidelines, most will tell you the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) Step 1 is the most crucial test they took during medical school. Therefore, it is essential that young people who want to study medicine in the US verify the programs they’re considering to prepare for this exam series. It is also wise to look into pass rates and average scores across different programs. Keep in mind that, according to performance data released by USMLE, 97 percent of examinees from US and Canadian schools taking Step 1 for the first time in 2019 passed. That’s a quality standard you would want to see from international schools as well.

It’s easy to chiefly focus on entry requirements and residency placements when comparing medical schools.

While those are important factors to consider, students shouldn’t forget about their personal interests. Some schools offer opportunities to further specific passions through organizations, events, and more. Those can be valuable for students. But, how would students ever grow as humans and as doctors, if they read the same books and learned the same things without going forward via their personal interests?

Tuition and fees are probably on your mind-and rightly so, especially in these times of financial uncertainty. While cost alone shouldn’t determine where you attend school, it’s certainly worth considering.

And keep in mind that evaluating the cost of any program should include numerous factors. When it comes to medical school, you really do get what you pay for.


  • International students are usually exempt from the US admission
    requirements, but they will be expected to meet English language requirements if English is not their principal language.
  • Visiting campuses may not be possible, so contact the schools you
    are interested in to see if they offer virtual tours.
  • Speaking to other students who’ve gone through the process may prove
    helpful, and they’ll be able to offer perspective on their experience at that school.

About writer: Bob Ryan is Dean of Admissions at St. George’s University, Grenada, who offers guidance for students to choose the best medical school.