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International vs. US Medical Schools

When applying to medical schools, it can be daunting to know whether or not you will be accepted. For instance, according to a Forbes article, only 38% of applicants received an acceptance in 2021’s admission in U.S. medical schools. It is known that several of these schools have admission rates of less than 2%. Regardless, these low admission rates shouldn’t dissuade you as an aspiring physician. There are other options outside of U.S. medical schools. International medical schools (IMGs) are an option since medical students can do medicine in the U.S. while still having overseas experience. While a lot of medical schools are willing to consider applicants with lower GPAs and MCAT scores, there are still a lot of IMGs that are very selective. It is imperative to research which IMGS (if you decide you want to apply to one) to ensure you are making the right choice for your physician journey. There are several factors to consider when applying to an IMG.


There are about 3,800 IMGS as of now and that number is increasing quickly. The World Directory of Medical Schools gives useful statistics from foreign medical schools. One example would be the number of people who have graduated from that program. There are also notes from each school about whether going to an IMG would allow medical student graduates to apply for certification in the U.S. Additionally, there are medical schools at international universities and nations like Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, and Israel that have a pattern of accepting future doctors who apply to IMGs from outside nations but end up doing their medical practice in the U.S. For students applying to medical programs outside of the U.S., they should check that a foreign medical school is accredited and that the accreditation is done through a trustworthy external organization that has been reviewed.

Residency Placement and Training

As well as verifying the accreditation of foreign medical schools, U.S. premed students should check if the IMGs they want to apply to have a background of accepting U.S. students in the first place. Talking to the schools’ advisors, current students, and recent graduates can help students also figure out the clinical training available since it could be different from clinical training in the U.S. It is good to know that it is difficult to switch to a medical school in the U.S. from one outside of Canada whose program is very similar to the U.S.’s program. This can be the same for other IMGs as well even if the programs are very similar to the accreditations of the U.S. program.

It’s important to keep in mind that applying to IMGs is going to be difficult and there is still a lot of research that should be done to make sure that IMGs have a good history of taking in U.S. students and whether their programs will be similar to those in the U.S. in case you still want to practice in the U.S. Keep researching and being mindful of your options. Know that while the journey will be hard, there are several benefits of IMGs if you believe that is right for you, such as being able to be exposed to a different culture and environment while practicing as a physician.

Thank you for reading!

Siri Nikku





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