Considering going abroad for medical school?
How about Ireland?
By Nariman Namazi
January 15, 2004
Getting into medical school in the United States back in the late
90's was tough, tougher than it's ever been. In 1996/97, applications
peaked at roughly 55,000, all competing for the approximately 16,000
spots available at the 105 U.S. medical schools. I had the misfortune
of graduating from college in 1996 with a biochemistry/premed major.
After four grueling years at the University of Chicago
and with a GPA which wasn't going to get me into med school, my
limited. Ultimately I ended up going abroad to study for a year,
then took a year off to work, and so on. In the end I was faced
with the choice of waiting indefinitely to get into medical school
the United States, or going abroad for medical school.
Going abroad for med school for any U.S. graduate
almost always means going to the Caribbean medical schools. This
is a fact that
in the medical field can attest to. In fact, if you look at the
class at any one of those Caribbean med schools, 1/4 of the class
and the rest Indian. This option wasn't very attractive to
me. I didn't like the idea of pursuing my medical education on
Also, my image of these schools was that they were
filled with students who partied and slacked off for 4 years in
I didn't do that, I busted my balls for four years. Without
trying to sound elitist, I simply felt I'd be in the wrong company.
This is not to take anything away from those Caribbean schools.
went to one of them, some of them are pretty decent. Nevertheless,
it wasn't for me.
Then one day I'm talking to a friend of mine who
happened to be in a similar predicament, and he casually mentions
Ireland. I'd never heard of any Americans going to Ireland
for med school, or anywhere else in Europe for that matter.
even occurred to me to go to Europe for my medical education.
I guess I assumed that European medical schools weren't open
the Caribbean schools, which were designed solely to take
in U.S. medical school rejects.
As it turns out, most medical
Europe do not accept international students. However, I
went online and did a little research and found three medical
schools in Ireland
which have a quota for accepting students from North America
every year. These three schools are Trinity College Dublin,
University College Dublin, and the Royal College of Surgeons
Each of these schools takes in approximately 15-20
students from the U.S. and about the same number from Canada each
of these three, the one that has the greatest prestige
and best connections in the United States by far is the
College of Surgeons in Ireland
(RCSI). Connections and prestige are VERY important for
a foreign medical school because it directly affects
you can get into. There are many many graduates of top
Indian and Pakistani medical schools who come to the
U.S. but who
The only drawback is that medical school here is
5 years instead of 4. However, that has its advantages as well.
It is not as
grueling as a U.S. medical school, simply because the
medical program is
stretched out over an additional year. That gives you
time to breathe every
once in a while and to enjoy some semblance of a social
life, as well as the multitude of sporting, cultural,
activities on tap. In addition, living in Dublin means
you have ready access to all of Europe. London, Paris,
cheap plane ride away.
I came here in 2000 and am now in my 4th year. As
far as our clinical education is concerned, it is widely
it is better
than most U.S. medical schools. Dublin teaching hospitals
are excellent and there is immersion in patient interaction
of second year. Moreover, RCSI has cooperative arrangements
with Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Columbia, University of
Mayo Clinic (among others) whereby these schools
will accept a certain
number of our students for clinical electives every
Finally, perhaps the best measure of the status
or quality of any medical school is its residency match
Americans I knew
in last year's graduating class matched at such
places as UCSF (transitional year outside of CA), Yale,
So, I encourage all Iranians out there who
are considering going abroad for medical school to
consider the Royal
College of Surgeons
in Ireland. In the end, you will
be much better off than going to the Caribbean,
if you want to
into a university/teaching hospital (rather than
community program). I very much encourage anyone
who has any questions
to email me.
application deadline for Entering 2004 is, I
believe, February 15. Good luck.
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