Foreign Medical Degree - Worth it or not (Especially as a Keralite).

Let’s start out with a fair warning: Even though the quality of education provided in foreign institutions may surpass many private institutions in India, it comes with some unique challenges and impediments which may not be immediately apparent.

I finished my MD Physician degree (equivalent to an Indian “M.B.B.S”) from the Medical Academy named after S. I. Georgievsky, Crimea and as I am waiting for my registration with the state medical council, I write this hopping anyone who comes across this have enough information to make an informed decision about the future that they are choosing.

Starting off with the good right off the bat:

1) No waste of time if you are going for foreign degrees soon after finishing school as getting admissions are mostly a breeze.

2) Another chance for getting in to a field that you love even if your own country can’t accommodate you.

3) Easiest opportunity to enjoy a foreign culture and the freedom that comes with it. In my experience, most people won’t even miss their homes after a short period of acclimatization.

4) Relaxed academic atmosphere spread generally over a period of 6 years with no burden of having to write records or do ward duty. This is a luxury you will never get in India. You can spend this time to have a semblance of a social life (you would be gravely mistake if you think I had a social life as I spend approximately 6000 hours gaming and many more hours watching TV show which I dare not even quantify for fear of realizing that I spend years of my life doing nothing productive) and pursue other interests which you can never have if you opt to study in India.

5) Better educational quality when compared to many private colleges in India.

6) Low cost of education, unless of course you managed to secure a coveted 'Government Medical College' seat.

Now, for the bad:

1) Does require some time to get familiar with the social etiquette and get over the language barrier.

2) Even though being better than many private colleges in India, the quality of education does not live up to the 'Indian Government Medical College' standard (especially the practical training which can't hold a candle to the exposure that you will get in a government medical college).

3) Requires you to get an eligibility certificate allowing you to receive a specific cutoff in the NEET UG exam.

4) Long duration of study (6 years) when compared to the 4.5 years in India (1.5 years is not nothing).

5) Need to pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam aka FMGE exam / MCI exam (could be replaced with the NEXT exam when your time comes - yikes!!) for obtaining the license to work in India. Unless you spend time during your medical training years on furthering your knowledge, passing the exam is a tough task. The exam is only conducted twice every year and you might as well lose 6 months for passing it and lose even more time if you can't overcome that hurdle in the first go.

6) Foreign medical education is like a buffet. You can choose to devour everything that they offer and finish as a well educated doctor (even though lacking in practical skills which you can make up for during your compulsory rotatory internship in India). Or, you may not choose to eat at all and still end up with a degree and no knowledge through many peoples' pity and kindness. And the second category will go through a lot of grueling times as they struggle to make up for the knowledge that they should have already obtained to clear the FMGE which in turn can cost years of your life.

7) You do not get paid during the compulsory rotatory internship.

And now, a little bit for my fellow Keralites ( read: "THE UGLY!!")

1) The state medical council takes 3-4 months to provide you with a provisional registration after you have cleared your FMGE which is required for starting your internship.

2) Unlike other states, you have only very few hospitals where you can do your internship. Along with the many students who studied in private colleges outside Kerala wanting to do their internship in Kerala, you will have a tough time getting your internship as the waiting lists in many of the hospitals are huge. From what I hear, it takes 6-8 months in average to get an internship is most hospitals and, more than 1 year in case of a few unlucky.

In conclusion:

It is worthwhile to pursue a foreign medical degree only if you are willing to put up with the extra time you lose and the other difficulties associated with getting a degree from a foreign country.

And, in the case of states like Kerala, it is even more paramount that you realize that you will be living with your parents and will have to depend on them for sustaining you for the approximately one extra year that you will be stuck at home due to bureaucracy and mismanagement.

Having to spend 7.5 years or more (always more than you are willing to sacrifice!!) on a course that could be completed in a 5.5 year period in any Indian college (including a one year paid internship) is not a simple feat to complete in the midst of psychological and societal pressures.

The harder the decision.

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Kerala, India

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