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International premed students: Know the premed situation in the U.S.!

pmyenpmyen 486 replies55 threads Member
I wrote this response to a prospective (now current?) international student's question about being premed at Amherst. While Amherst has a very high success rate for American students gaining admission to medical school (in the past it was about 90%), it is extremely difficult for international students from any university or college in the U.S. to gain admission to medical school in the U.S. An international high school student holding an admission to a top college like Amherst may also be admitted to medical school in their own country since students in most countries enter medical school directly from high school. If your ultimate goal is to become a physician, you should weigh this heavily, even if you eventually would like to practice in the U.S. rather than your home country. If you attend medical school in your country, at least you will become a physician, and you may be able to match into a residency in the U.S. On the other hand, it is possible that you may not be able to attend medical school at all (at least n the U.S.) if you attend college in the U.S. While attending a place like Amherst is a special opportunity, and can be life-changing and open many doors in the future, you need to make your educational plans with your "eyes wide open." Also, at Amherst, many premeds find other areas that are more interesting to them than medicine. It is not so much that premeds are "weeded out" but rather, something else captures their passion even more. Once at Amherst, you may find that to be the case.

Today at 6:00 am edited 6:04AM
I just saw your post about being premed at Amherst. I have served on the medical school admissions committee at Harvard and am aware of the admissions policies of many of the top private medical universities in the U.S. You should know that it is almost impossible for an international student to attend medical school in the U.S. There also is virtually no financial aid available for international students so an international medical student's parents must be wealthy or borrow extensively. Most private medical schools will even require four year's tuition held in escrow. State schools are often closed to out of state students, or will only take students from states that have special arrangements with state schools that may not have their own medical school (e.g. Wyoming with Univ. Washington). They rarely, if ever, take international students. Some state schools will consider M.D./Ph.D. applicants in order to attract the absolute top students for the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) regardless from where they are from. However, I believe that these spots are only open to Americans. It has been a while since I checked, but you will need to see which schools will consider international students who have graduated from U.S. colleges or universities. You will find there are very few who do, and those that do, will take less than a handful per year. I have seen some international students who have pursued a Ph.D. and then applied to medical school, usually at the same institution since they have become known there and will receive support from their department. Again, they will have to be top-notch, as they are considered to be on track to become a future faculty member there, and they will need to provide strong justifiable reasons for how a M.D. advances their research career.. I don't want to discourage you so early in college, and you certainly can apply to U.S. medical schools when the time arrives, but if your goal is to become a physician, you will need to consider contingencies such as studying at a medical school outside the U.S. Australia, UK, and Singapore are open to foreign students who have graduated from U.S. universities but again they must have the finances to pay their way unless they have stellar academic credentials to earn a merit scholarship. Later, you also will need to apply for residencies in the U.S. if you intend to practice here, and certain residencies are very competitive (e.g., neurosurgery; neurology perhaps a little less so), especially as a foreign medical graduate (FMG). You may want to think about getting your medical education in your home country; however, most countries accept students directly from high school so you may no longer be eligible to attend. It is still worth checking with medical schools in your home country. You also should talk to the Amherst premed advisor EARLY to find out what other international graduates from Amherst have done in order to study medicine in the U.S. or abroad.
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