Trying to Avoid Hollywood Upstairs Medical College
November 9, 2012 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend med school admission guides or other resources for foreign-born students who want to go to school in the U.S.?

Fiancee has (French) university degrees in nursing and psychology; is considering medical school in the U.S. She'll have her green card by the time she applies.

We've just discovered that she will probably have to do a post-bac, even though she's likely taken the pre-reqs in France, and now we're wondering what else we don't know. I don't know much about this area. Thanks!
posted by benbenson to Education (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here's some information from UGA (the first result my Google-fu returned.)

A thing to consider, given the expense and time involved in med school, perhaps your fiance would do better pursuing a Nurse Practitioner's certification/license. Another option would be to be a Physician Assistant.

I suspect that these programs would be easier to get into, MUCH less expensive than medical school and ultimately, the scope of practice and the amount of money she'd make would be entirely respectible.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2012

ECFMG might be able to give you some info.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:48 PM on November 9, 2012

The ECFMG regulates graduates from medical schools that are outside the United States, so that is not a good resource.

Honestly if you have an established career and she doesn't, going to medical school in the United States is a horrible idea that will most likely result in you two splitting up. Why do I say this? Because she will guaranteed have to move to a fairly random location at least twice, probably more.

She will have to move to go to medical school. Then she will have to move again for residency. Due to the fairly high level of competition, she will have little to no control over where she moves. During actual medical school, it's likely she'll have to move to a few different places for a month or so at a time to do elective away rotations. I mean, she can apply to regional medical schools and then to regional residencies, but then she won't get in. It's just that competitive. You have to apply everywhere and be happy with what you get.

Furthermore due to medicare budgeting concerns (don't ask) and politics, MD/DO medical education in the United States is about to hit a fiscal cliff and things really are going to hit the fan soon. Basically, it's not a good time to be in medical school.

Anyway if you really want to get married and then never see that person again, this is a great idea. Otherwise I think it's a bit silly.

Nurse Practitioner is the best route for your wife. It requires some stateside nursing experience, some tests, and some online coursework for the perfunctory "doctorate" but after that you're pretty much a doctor, for better or worse. NP is great because you get paid basically the full time you're "training" and regardless of what people will tell you, all their requirements are a joke and can be done fully online in most states.

I would recommend PA but the schools are getting pretty damn competitive and that's an actual degree with a 2 year version of medical school, so it's a lot more work to get you to the same place the NP degree does. Still far less work than real medical school though, and after those two years you're free to start earning six figures.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 1:29 PM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would suggest contacting the admissions office at a US medical school for more info. The application requirements as far as I know are the same whether you're an US applicant or an international applicant. (Satisify pre-med requirements, take MCAT, get rec letters, etc.) The real difference is in how it's going to be funded. I recall that some medical schools require non-US nationals to establish an escrow for tuition & living expenses for all four years, up front.

When I googled "foreign applicant escrow med school", I found MEDICAL SCHOOL ADMISSION POLICIES TOWARDS NON-U.S. CITIZENS from the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, which might be of interest to you.
posted by scalespace at 1:30 PM on November 9, 2012

Thanks, everyone. hobo gitano, I share your reservations (and we all know it would make more financial sense to go to med school in France), but we're exploring the options right now. It's great to hear these perspectives. Scalespace, my understanding is that the escrow provisions don't apply to permanent residents (why I mentioned her green card).
posted by benbenson at 1:55 PM on November 9, 2012

It wouldn't really make more sense for her to go to med school in France unless you both planned to stay in France permanently.

Finishing medical education in France, then coming back to the United States, regardless of your licensure in France would still mean that you would have to complete all the graduation requirements for medical school here, take the 3.5 United States Medical Licensing Exams, and then convince a residency program that you have enough regional ties to actually stay in the United States. Not an easy feat.

You still have to go through the exams, and you still have to go through the residency hell. It's not really that much better.

Since she would be learning medicine in French it would probably take a year to get up to speed on the differences in English standardized testing, and then 3-7 years to complete her residency. Again, it would be a complete crapshoot as to location.

Speaking of which, as Americans we might not think an 80-100 hour workweek is all that extraordinary but as a citizen of France she might really not adapt well to the stupid, stupid hospital policies regarding residents.

Many residency programs that will accept international medical graduates with or without a green card are in it for the free labor, and might actively sabotage her if she plans on taking her two weeks of vacation, or god forbid, a sick day.

You are correct that escrow would be unnecessary in your case but most states would require her to pay out of state tuition, which can be astronomically expensive in addition to it being a lot harder to get admission to an out of state school.
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 8:54 PM on November 9, 2012

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