Is doing med school or dental school abroad in Europe a good idea?


I’m a high school student who is trying to figure out what path I’d like to take in the future. I love the thought of going to dental school or medical school. A friend of mine recently let me know that it is possible to do these types of schooling right out of high school in places such as Switzerland. I do have a good proficient in french and have always liked the country so this is something that has been in the back of my mind. I am taking a few AP classes but my high school doesn’t offer many, would this have an impact on my chances of admission? Overall, I am wondering if anyone has any advice for someone in north america considering doing university abroad?

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Would you want to come back to the US to practice medicine? If so I don’t know that doing med school abroad is advised. I think there are some other posters here who know more about such things, but dig into the details on that.

Your issue if you do medical school abroad will be a residency here should you want that. If you actually get fully licensed abroad, I think there will be some hoops for you to jump through to get a license to practice in the U.S.

Re: getting a medical license abroad…you need to check to see IF non-citizens can easily do that. Might not be so easy.


Sadly, as in most of life, what looks like the easier path is actually a harder path.

re: Switzerland: unless you are Swiss / have Swiss residency / are an EU national irl there is almost no possibility of going to medical school in Switzerland.

…and, even if you did get in, it’s not much faster than the US: the program is 6 years + a 3 year traineeship + a qualifying exam before you can see patients independently.

Fwiw, direct entry to medicine is found in most countries- but it’s still a harder path than it looks, because:

*medicine is competitive entry in most countries- there are always more applicants than spaces;
*most countries tightly limit the number of non-nationals that can be admitted;
*even if you found a place in another country getting licensed in the US is slow and painful


The big question is where do you want to practice medicine once you’ve finished your education.

It’s always best to study in the country where you intend to practice because medical licensing laws vary so much. IOW, you may be able to graduate from a med school in Switzerland (or Germany or Poland or Spain or Italy), but that won’t necessarily allow you to practice medicine in any other country besides where the med school is located

Switzerland is not a good place for US citizens to study. Swiss med school have highly restricted admission policies. Basically unless you are a Swiss citizen or PR or member of certain EU countries, you won’t even be considered.

There are private EU medical schools (just as there are private medical schools in many countries) that offer instruction in English and which are much less competitive for admission. However, these schools are more expensive and may not prepare you to enter medical residencies in the US or EU. (Do you hold EU citizenship? That will make a big difference…)

There are other options if you wish do a 6 year course of study in medicine. I would recommend Australia or Ireland–which are the most friendly to US citizens. Plus instruction is in English.

If you hope to eventually practice medicine in the US, there are very significant downsides to attending medical school internationally.

In order to receive a US medical license you are required to complete a medical residency in the US.

To even be considered for a US residency, you must:

  1. attend a medical school that is recognized by ECFMG.
  2. take and pass all USMLE exams**
  3. have hands on US clinical experience***

** International medical schools do not include instruction in many of the topics covered by the USMLEs. You will need to teach yourself the material.

*** International medical schools will not assist you in finding USCE placements. You will need to do this on your own-- including obtaining US malpractice coverage

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Atlantic Bridge Program-- for students from North Americans who wish to study medicine in Ireland. This is a direct entry program.

Direct entry medical schools in Australia require an entrance exam-- UCAT
And currently only James Cook University (QLD),University of Adelaide (SA), University of New South Wales (NSW), University of Tasmania (TAS), Western Sydney University (NSW) consider International students for admission.

NOTE 1: the Atlantic Bridge program is set up to return students to Canada and the US. The medical curriculum is more similar to what’s taught in Canada and the US. There’s help setting up clinical rotations in the US and Canada.

NOTE 2: The Australian direct entry programs are not setup to return international students to North America. (Mostly they go to Singapore, Hong Kong, the Middle East…) The medical curriculum is not the same as the curriculum in the US and there will be significant holes in your knowledge base w/r/t the USMLE exams. Additionally, none of the Australian schools offer USCE rotation and the different academic calendar may mean you’ll need 7 or 8 years to get your USCE and graduate.

There is one Australian med school program that’s for US students wishing to practice medicine in the US. That’s Oschner School of Medicine at University of Queensland. But it’s a graduate entry program. (Meaning you need a BA/BS to be considered for admission.) Also Oschner costs about the the same as a private US med school–so it not cheap. Oschner students do their clinical rotations at the Oschner Medical Center and Hospital in New Orleans.


My SIL (Canadian, D is American) just finished his second year of med school at RCSI in Dublin, and he took the USMLE last week. His school definitely helps him prepare for residency in North America, and they have great results.

A large part of his class is from US/Canada. He is part of the Atlantic Bridge program.

Note: my SIL did his undergrad at Queen’s in Ontario before enrolling at RCSI.


The Atlantic Bridge program has both direct entry and graduate entry pathways.

Six-Year Courses:

  1. Designed for applicants entering directly from High School and who have taken biology, chemistry, and either physics or mathematics.

  2. Applicants currently attending College/University but will not have an undergraduate degree by the September entry. If in this category, you may also be eligible for a 5-YearProgram.* The Admissions Committees will determine the program to which you are most suited based on your academic background.

  • University College Dublin
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Bahrain

Five-Year Courses:

Directly from High School with specific subjects and scores in the IB Examinations(including chemistry at Higher Level) or with AP examinations in biology, chemistry and either physics or calculus. Candidates who have completed one or more years of college/university are usually considered for the 5 Year Program.**

  • University College Cork*
  • University College Dublin*
  • Trinity College Dublin*
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Bahrain

*IB Examinations Only – Applicants are required to undertake all six IB examinations in one examination session.

**This option does not apply to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Bahrain

GEM is the Graduate Entry Option and requires an bachelor’s degree for admission

Four-Year Courses: Graduate Entry Medicine Program (GEM)

An undergraduate degree and MCAT are required. The MCAT must be written before May 1st of the year of entry and an undergraduate degree must be awarded before September entry.

  • University College Cork*
  • University College Dublin**
  • University of Limerick***
  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland***

*University College Cork: The MCAT must have been written within 3 years of the date of entry. e.g. test dates no earlier than August 2019 for 2022 entry.

**University College Dublin: Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and minimum MCAT requirement of 503. The MCAT must be written within 2 years of the date of entry. e.g. test dates no earlier than August 2020 for 2022 entry.

***University of Limerick and The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland: The MCAT must have been written within three years. e.g. test dates no earlier than 2019 for 2022 entry.

Additionally, applicants who have completed an undergraduate degree before September Entry are eligible to apply to the 5-Year programs. (MCAT not required)

  • Trinity College Dublin
  • National University of Ireland, Galway
  • The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Bahrain

Atlantic Bridge will provide specific guidance on your eligibility based on the information you submit on your Application Request Form.

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Even if you could gain admission to a foreign country’s 6 year college/med school program, it would be a very bad idea if you want to practice medicine in the US. Residency programs in the US are competitive. Very few spots go to FMGs (foreign medical graduates - and the very phrase itself has negative connotations). A friend’s Israeli daughter couldn’t get into med school in Israel, where it’s extremely competitive. So she went to Italy, but the program there was terrible. She essentially had to find her own clinical rotations there. She wound up never finishing.

Four years of college as a premed in the US is the better option for US residents/citizens, because you grow up a bit more, plus you learn more about the world. Med schools here want well-rounded, humane people. Four years of college is more likely to yield that than two when simultaneously doing a premed program.

If you had citizenship in a foreign country where you could get into a 6 year medical program, and that country’s medical school was well-respected, with a good track record of getting people into US residencies, then I think that you should consider it, because virtually anywhere else in the world is going to be much cheaper for college/med school than in the US.

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to the OP,

If you really want a shorter course of study for medicine, there are some 6 or 7 year BS/MD and BS/DO programs in the US.

There’s a forum here for discussion of BS/MD and BS/DO–

There are also 6 or 7 year BS/DMD and BS/DDS programs.

Discussion about BS/DMD programs here:

NOTE: these programs are highly competitive for admission