Should my D apply to St Andrew's for Medicine?

(This is my first post on CC so hope I get this in the right thread. :))

My D is a rising senior interested in pre-med. St Andrew’s is on her application list, and her GC is arranging a meeting with a rep as it does not appear they will visit her school this year as usual due to the pandemic. I have many questions and would appreciate feedback from anyone with experience or knowledge of the pros/cons of considering St Andrew’s for health/med.

We do have a general understanding of how the modules work at UK schools and that there will not be the flexibility of a US LAC. If you are admitted to the School of Med, that’s what you are doing!

The accelerated program is appealing to my D, but I have many questions about how going to St A’s may affect a US residency match. From the bit of reading I have done, it may also be difficult to get enough clinical experience.

Any insight is greatly appreciated.

Does she plan on practicing medicine in the UK after graduation? Is she eligible to remain in the UK without a visa? If her intention is to go back to the US and practice, that won’t work. She will have attend medical school and fulfill residency as a physician (actually adding time rather than shortening).

Alternatively, she can study Biology/Chemistry and apply to US based Medical schools, but I do not have the information on how successful that path is for students. The school representative will know or can find out for you.

Best of luck

My understanding is that post-secondary school med school in the UK requires significant medical experience (volunteering in various settings) prior to applying, to the point many applicants take a gap year to polish their resume, and a UK or European passport, since places tend to be funded in part by the NHS.
Both could be significant hurdles for an American applicant, especially due to activities being restricted most of 2020 and the deadline being October 15.

The course at St Andrews is only half the studies needed to qualify as a Dr in the UK. Remaining studies which form the full Medicine degree are taken at another university in the UK.

So to be a fully qualified doctor via St Andrews, she would then transfer to another uni to complete the full doctor training to be able to practice in the UK. Does she want to move during the course? All the unis listed above are very different environments to St Andrews.

Even if you have the full UK medical degree, matching into the USA residency process is very difficult I believe. @WayOutWestMom is the expert on this. However, if you complete your degree in the UK, and gain enough experience, you can then move back to the US. But you will need to be able to work in the UK first.

The other issue is that Medicine degrees are partly funded by the NHS as the students will eventually end up working there. So places for international students, who cannot work for the NHS and will leave the country, are VERY limited.

Options for study abroad for pre meds:

  • Study BSc Medicine, Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, etc as an undergrad in UK, take a Post Bacc course to ensure all US Med School requirements are met. Then apply to US Med School. Whether the St Andrews BSc in Medicine is enough for Post Bacc courses in the US is something you would have to figure out.
  • Study abroad for a semester or year (although highly dependent on getting all Med School classes checked off at the home institution)

If the main aim, however, is to shorten the time to MD, then an accelerated BS-MD program in the US would be ideal (although v hard to get into)

Thank you all for taking time to comment. The input is greatly appreciated.

After further discussion with my D, this is what she is actually interested in at St Andrews (BSc in Chem or Biochem then apply to US med school). Apologies for starting down the wrong track in my original post… she dropped the St Andrews idea on me out of nowhere (when I thought we had her application list close to finalized), and I am scrambling to get as much information as possible. I spent 24 hours reading the StA website, threads on CC and then panic posted with some misconceptions! Ha

Our current plan is to arrange an interview with a StA rep and also an AO at a US med school. We are letting our daughter take ownership of the college application process (with our input but trying not to hover too much which gives D anxiety), but the added considerations with StA make me feel the need to be a bit more involved in this application decision. There are more factors to consider with an international school, after all.

I will update when we learn a bit more. In the meantime, I am open to any and all comments on this new scenario.

This is one of those ideas that seems so great- until you get into the details.

First, there is the question of admission to StA’s- not just meeting their testing requirements and medical experience expectations, but also getting a high score on the UKCAT, and getting one of a tiny number of places. The NHS has a hard cap on the number of non-UK/rEU students allowed. The number of international student places for medicine is likely to be lower this year under new Scottish protocols designed to make sure that more places go to Scottish students. In the 2018/19 intake StAs accepted 18 international students from 16 countries, including at least 1 US citizen. In 2017/18 they accepted 14 students from 10 countries, including at least 1 US citizen (note that in both cases there were dual citizens, so the US citizen may also be a citizen of another country, and have applied from that other country- that data isn’t available…

IF she navigates all of that she will have to work on the qualifying to practice in the US as a foreign educated doctor (the AMA has a lot of info on their website about doing that). No surprise: there is a lot of testing and certifying involved.

As for doing a science degree & applying to med school in the US, even with a post-bacc year it is very challenging: many med schools don’t accept international (except Canada) coursework or undergrad degrees. There are ones that do- but you should at least check the rules for your home state med schools.

edit: read your latest post too late, @DramaMama2021! Paging @VickiSoCal, who’s daughter is a Chem student at StAs right now…

Budget? Make sure you aren’t setting yourselves up for the “long way around the mountain” financially. Med school is brutally expensive, so adding a post-bacc is likely to erase whatever you might save on undergrad ( travel costs, exchange rates- I know folks whose overall costs of a UK university education turned out to be MUCH higher than they had anticipated.) That severely limited grad school options since the parents were completely tapped out…

@collegemom3717 Yes, sorry about the additional post. I couldn’t figure out how to edit the original post… I’m new to CC but it seems that isn’t an option.

Thank you for tagging @VickiSoCal!

@blossom Thanks for the warning! Yes, that is certainly a consideration especially since we are looking at 8 years of school rather than 4.

who’s = whose


@collegemom3717 Ha ha ha sounds like me correcting typos/auto spelling on texts! :wink:


Ummmm… that won’t work.

  1. None of the major US medical school application services (AMCAS, TMDSAS, AACOMAS) will accept or verify transcripts from foreign universities. This means there is a hard stop for your daughter’s plan to apply to US medical schools. No transcripts mean your D’s application simply will NOT be processed and will never get sent on to medical schools.

AMCAS handles all US MD med school applications
TMDSAS handles all TX MD, DO and dental school applications
AACOMAS handles all US DO med school applications

  1. Every US MD program requires a minimum number of credits (typically 90, but a few will accept 45-60) be earned at a US or Canadian college or university in order to considered for admission.

Out of all US MD programs, I believe that only Georgetown will review applicants with UK degrees without requiring additional US credits. And that is done only on a case by case basis. (BTW, Georgetown’s SOM admission rate is under 2%. Your D pinning all her hopes of a medical school admission on Georgetown is extremely foolish. They get over 13,000 applications for their 200 seats annually.)

There are, I think, 6 or so DO programs that will accept foreign transcripts, but that is only done on a case by case basis outside of the normal admission procedure.

Students with a foreign degree need to basically commit to re-taking all their pre-reqs classes (or acceptable UL substitutes) again in the US. The med school pre-reqs include not just science coursework, but also social sciences/humanities and English composition classes.

  1. Besides science coursework, all US med schools (MD and DO) require basic coursework in social sciences/humanities and 2 semester of writing skills/English composition. (While some med school may accept AP/IB credits for the social sciences, none accept AP credits for the writing requirement.)

Will your D’s course of study at St Andrew’s include those? My understanding is that UK degree do not allow for electives outside the major.

She will need coursework in psychology and sociology for the MCAT. Some medical schools have UL social science or humanities or medical ethics classes as a requirement for admission.

  1. There are other issues with doing UK undergrad degree then applying to US med schools. Medical school admission involves not just having the required pre-reqs. it al involves having the right ECs. Those ECs include having substantial US clinical medical exposure (hundreds of hours) through volunteering or working in US healthcare institutions. Getting that exposure in a non-US setting is not an acceptable alternative.

Expected pre-med ECs include: Community service (esp w/ disadvantaged populations), clinical exposure through paid employment or volunteer service in a medical setting, physician shadowing in a variety of medical specialties, including primary care, leadership positions in a students’ activities and laboratory or clinical research.

If your daughter want the experience of attending a foreign university but definitely plans to attend a US med school., she should consider Canadian universities. Since both US and Canadian college are accredited by the same accreditation bodies, Canadian degrees reconsidered "foreign" by med schools.

@WayOutWestMom This is extremely helpful information which I will share with both my D and her GC. The Canadian option is an interesting thought as McGill is on her watch list and she loves Quebec (even in the winter! brr) and speaks French.

My other thought is to encourage her to revisit the study abroad options at the schools already on her list and perhaps give that higher priority.

Appreciate the detailed response! :smile:

So you’re left with going to St As for a study aboard semester. Your D will need to check that all her US med school reqts that WayOutWestMom lists above are met at her home university, and not at St Andrews.

On the plus side - better to find out all this now, rather than when deeper in the admissions hoo har!

@CollegeMamb0 Yep! Although I “think” we are pretty good there. The rest of her list is comprised of small to mid size LAC and two in-state schools, all with pre-med track and stats on med school acceptance. She will need to consult with her advisor to work a semester abroad into her required curriculum.

And that study abroad may or may not be at St Andrews! She has vacationed in Scotland and loved it, but I believe her interest was piqued because her GC brought up that several kids from her school have been accepted over the past 5 years. He feels she has a good chance at acceptance based on her grades/test scores compared to the kids previously accepted. But none of that matters if it isn’t the right fit for her life goals.

And yes, good to find this out now! Like I said, it threw me for a bit of a loop. :smiley: It will be interesting to see what she decides to do with this information… drop the idea or start researching Canadian colleges or surprise me with something else!

her GC brought up that several kids from her school have been accepted over the past 5 years. He feels she has a good chance at acceptance based on her grades/test scores compared to the kids previously accepted.{/quote]

It looks as though you have moved on, but fyi the GC may not be aware that because is admission is by subject, comparative admissions stats are not always helpful in the UK context. StAs loves US students, but medicine is an outlier.


Just want to point out a couple of misconceptions in your statement.

  1. There is no such thing as a “pre-med track” in college. Pre med is an intention, not any particular major or “track” offered by a college.

A pre-med can major in any field and be a successful applicant so long as they have fulfilled admission requirements. In my daughters’ med school classes, they had classmates with majors in everything from agriculture/forestry to music composition to women’s/gender studies and just about everything imaginable in-between. Neither of my daughters had a traditional “pre-med” major.

Pre-med requirements are offered at just about every college and community college in the US. One doesn’t need to attend a college with a “pre-med track”.

  1. Colleges are TERRIBLE sources for information about the success of their med school placement rates. The data is manipulated six ways from Sunday and is intended to be an advertisement for the college’s reputation. You should not rely on it.
    There is a distinct lack of transparency at how their success rates are arrived at.

There is not even any uniformity at what exactly constitutes a “medical school admission.” Some include MD only, others include MD or DO, still other count MD, DO, DPsy, DNP, DDS/DMD, DVM, DPT, MSOT, OD, DPM–basically any health profession professional program. Some count only US med schools acceptances; others count acceptances to Caribbean and foreign med schools.

Also be aware that NONE of the med school success rate data specifies if those applying to med school are seniors or are alumni or some mix of both. It also doesn’t indicate whether those applying have done post-grad GPA enhancing coursework at another college. Alumni may have been out of college for 5+ years and taken substantial coursework elsewhere, but are still counted as a successful admission by colleges.

Additionally, success rate data doesn’t consider how many freshman pre-meds apply to med school; only how many seniors/alumni do. The weeding in pre-med is fierce and it’s estimated that ~ 2/3rd of all freshmen pre-meds will never actually apply to med school.

Lastly, many colleges have a health professions committee that controls who is and who is not allowed to apply to med school by writing or withholding LORs from students. Without a committee LOR a student’s chances of gaining a med school admission are severely reduced. It’s considered a major red flag on an application. Generally HP committees will only write LORs for student whom they deem to have an excellent chance for an admission anyway.

@WayOutWestMom Perhaps that was a poor choice of words on my part. By “pre-med track” I simply meant they are all US schools used to working with kids to meet med school requirements. My D is a theatre and chorus kid and was told at one college tour last year that their music majors performed best on the MCATs. So she does understand that which is one of the reasons most of her applications will be to LAC. And another reason the interest in StA threw me off a bit.

In her case she is interested in Chem or Biochem with a minor in Communications or Creative Writing. At the moment anyway. She would also like the opportunity to participate in Theatre as an EC.

But this is probably getting off topic for the UK forum :smile: Unless the kiddo surprises me with something else tonight. Thanks again for taking the time for the detailed responses. I will start another thread as we continue to navigate our way through this crazy process.

lolololol…I think most of us have been there!

@collegemom3717 Oh gracious! I thought we were pretty close to solidifying the application list. However, she had 2 safeties, 3 high matches and 4 reaches (some requiring merit to make it work financially since we need to consider med school may be in the future) so I tasked her with finding another couple matches… and she comes back with St Andrew’s! LOLOLOL Is it too early for a glass of wine?