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The CP&MSF International Medical School Guide

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Guest UTMed07

I wrote the following guide in December '04 and it disappeared with the big attack of June '05. Luckily, I still had a copy on my computer. So, here it is again (with a few tweaks):

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The CP&MSF International Medical School Guide

 

Preamble

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In Canada, getting in medical school is tough, especially if you are in Ontario, and many good candidates (that would make fine physicians) do not manage to gain an offer of admission. Many unsuccessful candidates look elsewhere in the pursuit of their dream. This guide explores some of the options out there and pulls together some collected wisdom and a few links.

 

I hope that this guide will do two things (1) show people that there are a few feasible options for excellent candidates of Canadian med schools didn't have a place for, and (2) make people aware that there are a number of dubious for-profit medical schools that will take your money and are unlikely to lead to certificate of registration in Canada.

 

 

Summary of Options

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United States of America - not considered as 'foreign' by Canadian medical colleges (licensing bodies)

Pros - most like Canada - same licensing body (LCME), re-entry into Canada easiest

Cons - high tuition ($30,000 US/year), US health care culture (?)

 

Caribbean Schools

Pros - low tuition ($5-10K US/year), warm weather, low cost of living, schools designed for re-entry into the US

Cons - a large number are considered dubious (cater to US medical school rejectees)

 

Irish Medical Schools

Pros - good schools

Cons - high tuition (22,325 Euro/year tuition)

 

Australia & New Zealand

Pros - good schools

Cons - high tuition ($25,000-35,000 AU/year), far away

 

Eastern European Schools

Pros - many well established schools, low tuition, some schools offer programs in English

Cons - need to learn a new language, adjustment to a different culture

 

Others?

 

 

Understanding Licensure

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To practice medicine (independently) in Canada one needs a certificate of registration (also known commonly as a "license"). Certificates of Registration are granted by the provincial medical colleges.

 

In Ontario the licensing body is the CPSO (College of Physicians & Surgeons of Ontario). Licensure (for Ontario) is described here. A list of other provincial licensing bodies is found here. Ontario is generally considered to be the most difficult place to obtain a Certificate of Registration (if one has done medical school outside of the USA and Canada).

 

My advice - read the rules from the source.

 

 

Dubious Medical Schools

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There are a significant number of dubious medical schools. They feed off of people that dream of medicine, but could not gain admission in Canada and the US. If you are considering a foreign medical school I urge you to do some research.

 

The American Association of International Medical Graduates (AAIMG) I think is worth a quick glance. Some people on the board think it is a slick hatchet job and I understand that point of view 'cause there are some things not quite right about it:

1. A whois yields the address of a large office complex in Carson City (NV) and there is no suite No. given; so, the address cannot be completely right...

2. The administrative contact is in Russia. I think that looks a bit suspicious.

3. The contact addresses on the AAIMG site are hotmail addresses... seems a bit strange to me.

4. The AAIMG is headquartered in Nevada. The president of the AAIMG Dr Thomas Moore does not have a licence at the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners. Seems a bit strange IMHO.

 

Any case, the process they use is described here in general terms. This page list the specific evaluation criteria.

 

Here is an example from one report:

This school has experienced serious internal management problems with both high faculty and administrative turnover.

 

The labs and library remain inadequate; plastinated parts are used in anatomy instead of cadavers.

 

School takes significant amount of transfer students and failures from other medical schools. Web site is misleading as to facility and actual onsite fulltime faculty. Clerkship program is loosely organized.

 

A site definitely worth checking is the World Health Organization. They maintain a list of medical schools based on submissions of the national governments. If a medical school in a country does not appear in the World Directory of Medical Schools it is not recognized as a medical school by the government in that country... and possibly a fraud.

 

 

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) has the following warning:

Applicants should be aware that enrolling in dubious, proprietary, for-profit medical schools opened specifically to cater to rejected applicants to medical schools in Canada or the USA is highly unlikely to be a path to practicing medicine in Canada. [boldface is CFMS']

 

Cost

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Foreign medicals schools can be expensive.

 

Tuition in the US is around $30,000 US/year. Data from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) for public schools is here (2003 data), private schools is here (2004 data). If you assume the cost of living is $10K/year (not a conservative estimate) after four years your wallet is missing $160,000 US.

 

Irish schools are 22,365 Euros/year. With the current exchange rate (1 Euro = 1.34 US dollars) -- the cost is not much different than US schools on a per year basis. Overall they are more expensive, as a medical education in Ireland is five years.

 

Is Australia a tuition heaven? No. The Australian Medical Students Association seems to be fighting the same battle Canadian medical students (outside of Quebec) are fighting.

 

An Australian Medical Students Association page explains -

...international medical students which start at $25,000 [AU]/year and are up to $35,000 [AU], the cost of a full-fee paying degree in medicine is likely to cost a minimum of $100,000 [AU] and probably closer to $175,000 [AU] or more.

Monash University is one school I took a closer look at. They charge $34,000 AU. Current exchange rates show the Australian dollar is about 6% lower than the Canadian one. Medical school in Australia is not a cheap option. New Zealand doesn't appear to be cheaper. In Auckland the domestic fees are $9856 [NZ]... the international fees aren't listed.

 

 

How can one pay for medical school?

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(1) Loans - CanHELP, BMO Financial + others.

(2) The MD/PhD option. If you like research this may be the way to go. A general description is here. Admissions is competitive. One school that lays it out on their web page is Upstate University -

Students admitted to the program with full funding support receive tuition remission and a stipend for the period of their training. During all years of training, the stipend totals $19,282/year.
(3) Wealthy parents/relatives.

 

 

Closing Comments

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If you do medical school outside of Canada and the USA there is no guarantee you'll be able practice medicine here.

 

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students has the following statement:

Although Canadian citizens will always have the right to return to and work in Canada, Canadians contemplating enrolment [sic] in a foreign medical school should know that any limitations on recognition of foreign earned MDs apply to qualification earned abroad by citizens AS WELL AS BY NON-CITIZENS of Canada. Strong motivation, determination and adequate academic preparation are in themselves NO GUARANTEE that a Canadian citizen who attends a foreign medical school will be able to train or practice medicine in Canada in the future.

The reality is not pretty. Medical education abroad is associated with risk and can be very expensive.

 

 

Selected Links

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- Shut out at home, Canadians flocking to Ireland's medical schools - and to an uncertain future - an article describing the migration to Ireland.

- Large numbers of would-be Canadian MDs migrating Down Under - an article describing how Canadians are going to Australia.

 

- Irish Medical Schools - a page describing the Irish Medical Schools.

- Australian Medical Council - the accreditation body for medical schools in Australia & NZ. A list of medical schools.

 

- IMG Ontario - describes the process International Medical Graduates must go through to get a Certificate of Registration.

- Caribbean Medicine - a page written by a Canadian medical school post-interview rejectee that went to the Caribbean for med school. I think the Open Letter he wrote is worth skimming through.

 

 

Afterword

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Why did I write this?

I had some difficult getting in to med school and explored other options. I think it is important to understand what options are out there and what the limitations and difficulties associated with them are. I feel that some people who dream of practicing medicine in Canada are conned out of a lot of money and given false hope.

 

Who am I?

I'm author of the (unofficial) UT Meds Admissions FAQ. As my login suggests, I'm a medical student at the University of Toronto. God and faculty willing, I'll be graduating in 2007.

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Guest bestfriends4life

that was alot of really good info - we are considering applying to the States and some days it seems like the best choice and other days we wonder if we are limiting ourselves and just making a hasty decision...oh the craziness....well thnx 4 the info!

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All prices in canadian dollor / year: (2011) ; ((prices are likely to rise in future))

 

Australian medical school's --> 55,000 - 60,000

Irish medical school's --> 52,000 mostly ; 66,000 RCSI

American medical school --> 40,000 - 45,000

Caribbean --> SGU: 60,000 ; rest: 20 - 25,000

 

Cost of living and travel : (depends on city)

 

australia: 15 - 20 $K

Ireland : 12 - 17 $K

US: 10 - 15 $K

Caribbean: 5 - 10 $K

:):eek::P

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All prices in canadian dollor / year:

 

Australian medical school's --> 55,000 - 60,000

Irish medical school's --> 52,000 mostly ; 66,000 RCSI

American medical school --> 40,000 - 45,000

Caribbean --> SGU: 60,000 ; rest: 20 - 25,000

 

Cost of living and travel :(depends on city)

 

australia: 15 - 20 $K

Ireland : 12 - 17 $K

US: 10 - 15 $K

Caribbean: 5 - 10 $K

:):eek::P

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