US undergrad & med school vs UK direct med

Hi all
I am a HS senior in CA and I hold dual citizenship for both the US and UK.
I am interested in pursuing medicine and I wanted to know if anyone has any experiences studying abroad in the UK and returning to the US (or vice versa).

I have fairly strong grades and a good number of significant/relevant extracurricular activities and am currently planning on applying to some 7 year programs within the US as well as medical schools in the UK and the UCs.
(I’ve already taken the UKCAT - barely missed out on 9th decile based on interim results, but should still be good enough to get at least interview and maybe offers hopefully? - I am applying to 2 London schools and a couple of the lower tier ones - not Oxbridge but probably Biology at Oxbridge as my 5th option on the UCAS)

My dad in particular is pushing for me to study in the UK, citing equivalent costs for an international student in medicine to an undergraduate student at the UCs, but I’ve heard that it’s impossible to get a residency in the US when studying abroad. Top med schools in the US (ie the UCs which are already notoriously competitive), to my understanding, do not accept international degrees (such as doing undergrad in the UK and then coming home) and then even if they do, they stipulate that you gather 90 credits in the US of things like English which wouldn’t be in the UK degree. In addition, they largely pull from a pool from CA students (but no guarantees of staying in Cali).

I’ve seen a lot of posts about American students studying abroad and struggling to find residencies in the US. Has anyone studied medicine here and applied for a residency in the UK and been successful? I haven’t made up my mind where I’d like to live and I want to leave my options as open as possible.
I really do love London and the UK in general (total shameless anglophile) and I’m not really a picky person in terms of weather and type of school. I am simply looking for the best education I can get :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance!

Rule of thumb-- go to medical school in the country in which you wish to practice medicine.

As a graduate of a UK medical program, you will face numerous disadvantages in returning to the US for medical residency. You will be an IMG (International Medical Graduate) and must go through a certification and validation process to get your medical credentials authorized to apply to the US Residency Match (NRMP) program. You will need to prepare and take the USMLE exams–which are required in order to be considered for a US residency.

Please read about the process here:

To have the best chance for a US residency match, you will need to make arrangements to do clinical clerkships in the US during your senior year of med school so that you have LORs from US residency programs/physicians. Your UK program may or may not allow you to do so. Usually you will getno support/help from a UK medical school in making away rotation arrangements or helping you arrange US malpractice coverage.

Generally speaking IMGs have a significantly more difficult time matching in the US than do AMGs… Last year only about 40% of US citizen IMGs matched. A significant number of residency programs simply will not consider IMGs at all. At programs that do consider IMGs, IMGs need higher STEP scores than domestic applicants to get a position.

[Charting the Outcomes in the Match for International Medical Graduates](

The difficulty IMGs have in matching is increasing. There will be unified MD and DO match starting in 2020 and all residency programs will be required to meet ACGME standards. Some osteopathic residency programs cannot meet the new standards and have closed or in the process of closing. Additionally 2-4 new MD and DO medical schools are coming online each year. This means there are more US medical school grads in competition for the limited number of residency positions and it’s the IMGs that are getting squeezed out.

It is probably easier to go US → UK than UK → US.

And, you might read this for one student’s perspective on doing medicine in London:

Since one of my daughters is trying to go US->Aus/UK, I can say with a high degree of confidence that it’s not easier to go US–>UK, even if one has achieved specialist recognition (i.e.completed residency & is specialty board certified in the US) and is applying via the “streamlined” specialist pathway.

Agree it’s not easy either way, @WayOutWestMom! But there is the streamlined pathway, and the citizenship could be helpful. International -> US is very tough.

Key point to OP: go re-read the first line of post #1, and take it to heart.

D1 has dual citizenship. But even the “streamlined” specialist/competent authority pathway for IMG citizens requires she retake her medical licensing boards (PLAB/AMC), work “under supervision” as junior house staff for at least 1 year (IOW, redo her intern year), retrain in her specialty for at least 1 year, then she can sit for specialty boards (again). Only then will she become eligible for a full medical license. It’s streamlined in the sense she only has to do 2-3 years of retraining instead redoing her entire 4 years of residency.

The process isn’t all that much different than what FMGs/IMGs go through to get licensed in the US. In fact she has to go through the same ECFMG certification process as IMGs wanting to train in the US.

The process is a PITA with numerous pitfalls along the way. She’ll be doing 3 or 4 away rotations overseas next year in hopes of finding a program that will allow her to train there. There is a specialist training crunch with not enough positions for domestic medical grads, so hospitals aren’t exactly lining up to welcome IMGs.

Sigh… the things we do for love…

ooph. That is tough, @WayOutWestMom.