Pre-med US to UK transfer??

Hello all,

I apologize for the length of this post- I would appreciate any advice you may have!

I am currently in the first semester of my freshman year at a small liberal arts school in Columbus, Ohio. My major is biochemistry pre-med, and I came in with 45+ credits through College Credit Plus in high school (I have finished calc 1 & 2, general chemistry 1 & 2, and lots of gen eds) . My university would usually cost 58,000$ a year- but as I am part of their women’s lacrosse program and had good grades, I got my tuition down to <8,000$ a year and do not pay room and board since I am a commuter (due to COVID-19).

I’m happy here, I have made good friends, but I have always wanted more. My dream school was UChicago, and although I was waitlisted until late last month, I was eventually rejected. I have a few reasons for wanting to pursue school in the UK (specifically Britain, however I am open to considering Scotland as well). My primary reason for pursuing school there is that I do not support the American healthcare system. It may be that I am young and do not have a fully developed perspective on this yet, however, in short it seems that the system is corrupt and over-charges people. My mother and sister work in the pharmacy dep. at Children’s, and just hearing the price of one ibuprofen is frustrating. I understand that NHS may not be the best system in the world, but it seems much better than the US and I want to be a part of something that is making a positive change in the world. I also want to be able to travel, and I believe being in the UK would give me better access to do so.

I ranked 18 in a class of 500, and my GPA in high school was an avg 4.1 weighted. I was involved in many clubs and organizations in high school, and have been doing the same at university. My classes have been good so far- I project I will be in the 3.8-4.0 range for this year.

My parents have agreed to pay for half of my undergraduate degree, even if it’s more expensive. I have saved up 3,000$ on my own during quarantine (could probably get closer to 5-6k before the start of next school year), which might not be a lot but I am also willing to take out some loans. Right now I am working at Chipotle, and they offer 5,250$ a year for tuition reimbursement, so I haven’t had to take any loans taken out. I saw that Chipotle is in England as well so I would look into international reimbursement.

What should I expect for tuition costs as a student from the US? Is it common to be able to get scholarships? Will I have to live on campus, and if so is the cost of room and board inflated as much as it is in the US? Would it be better if I finished a pre-med undergrad in the US and applied to med school abroad? Is there a way to see what of my credits would transfer? How much harder is a pre-med degree (or just uni in general) in the UK compared to the US

International student tuition only fees for a UK degree are $35K+ per year. A typical degree in the UK although there are 4 year options but really they tend to be in Scotland or for degrees that at the end of the 4 years you get both a BSc and an MSc (or a BA and a MA) - an undergraduate and masters upon graduation. Room and board is on top of this plus transportation (to and from USA) and storage (for when you have to be out of your accommodation) plus daily living. There are limited/no scholarships offered to international students. In addition, you will need to start over. There is no transfer option of any credits you have acquired for your US degree. To be honest, the finances seem to be an immediate obstacle and one that would be a dealbreaker for most. You can with your LAX scholarship get your US degree for around the price of one year of a UK degree… In addition, UK does not have a pre med component to the degree programs unless you apply for the 7 year medical degree which is basically like the BS/MD programs here. Degrees in the UK are tough. They are not about “finding yourself” or “exploring academic interests” there is no “major” the degree is a specific and focus domain study. So, in your case, you would spend 3 years drilling down in great depth in various areas of biochemistry. Student’s hands are not held. You are an adult and they leave you to navigate your degree which means a lot of self study and mature outlook on how to study at the higher academic level. Of course there is help and support but it is not considered to be an extension of high school.

If I were you, I would focus on nailing your US degree and doing medical related shadowing / interning / research during the course of the next 3.5 years. I would then, should you feel the same way about becoming a doctor, apply to medical school (graduate medicine degree programs) in the UK. I do not believe any of your credits are transferable. The cost for a UK medical degree will likely be similar if not a little cheaper than the US medical school option. Hope that helps. Good luck!

Most of what @GlobalFencingMom has written above is spot-on, but one correction: medicine is a direct-entry course. It won’t be 3 years of biochem + 4 of med: it is 5-6 years of med school. Except for one (super-pricey) private school, all med school programs are state funded and the number of international students at each school is fixed by government. For example, Warwick has 180 spaces for UK/EU students- and a cap of 13 international students.

As @GlobalFencingMom noted, there is a Graduate Entry option, which is a 4 year option, if you already have an UG degree. There are (iirc) 14 or 15 UK unis who offer it. Warwick has a particularly big graduate entry program. Fwiw, their fees £25K in Y1, and £45K in Y2,3 & 4 (+accommodation). To get your student visa you have to show that you have the money to pay your tuition + ~£10K in living costs (for a 9 month term).

Note that either way there is usually an admissions test (BMAT, GAMSAT or UKCAT, depending on the university).

Finally, a word about the NHS. I am a big fan of the NHS: one of the Collegekids was diagnosed with cancer while an UG student in the UK, and the entire experience from the patient side was exceptional. But the NHS has been starved of funding by successive Tory governments, and the wear and tear of a system under stress is hardest on the most junior in any system. Take a read of “This is Going to Hurt”. I suggest taking a look at our friendly neighbor to the North- Canada- as an option of med school for you. US and Canadian coursework is pretty well aligned (Canada is the only country whose UG coursework all US med schools will accept).

  1. Little to no money available. Where there is money, it won’t be enough to cover full costs, and won’t be the bargain that you have now. Some places in Scotland are giving merit for US students (Aberdeen and Strathclyde) but it won’t be near what you have now.

  2. Medicine is an undergraduate degree in the UK: there is no ‘pre med’. If you want to be a doctor in the UK, you will study Medicine. You can take another UG degree and then Medicine as a graduate degree but why add extra years and costs? Transferring credits is also not a UK thing - be prepared to start again.

  3. You may like the NHS, but the NHS isn’t mad keen on funding international medical students. VERY few internationals are accepted to UK medical degrees, because funding is capped for non UK students who do not have the right to work in the UK after graduation.

  4. A UK medical or biochem degree may not seamlessly transition back to the US for medical school requirements. US Medical schools want their pre-reqs done at 4 Year US Colleges, so you may need to do a Post Bacc on returning to the US.

  5. Medical school in the US is expensive. Stay where you are and use your parents’ and your savings to put towards med school. Even if you don’t want to go to med school after graduation, you’ll still have spare money to help set you up in an apartment for your first job, or go traveling like you want to, or go to another type of grad program.

  6. Investigate studying abroad for a semester in the UK: although check that you meet all the US med school pre reqs in the US. This will take planning so speak to your advisor asap

  7. Still not convinced? Read ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay, the diary of a British junior doctor (fresh out of med school) working in the NHS.