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Popular study destinations for medical students

Destinations that are growing in popularity and welcome international students to study medicine include Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Poland and the Caribbean

Sherry Gray
International Medical Schools

Study destinations that are growing in popularity and welcome international students include Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Poland and the Caribbean.

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Dreaming of becoming a doctor? If being a doctor or surgeon is your hearts desire, you are not alone, but how do you choose which medical college to attend? There are fine institutions all over the world that welcome Indian students. Here are some things to consider when making your decision, and some tips for making the most of your time.

Why leave home?

When you're ready to head off to college, the first decision is about where to attend. International colleges offer diverse experiences you cannot get at home. Travel is an exciting opportunity to intermingle in new cultures, sample new cuisines, and meet new friends with different views and lifestyles. Travel also adds value to your resume; varied cultural experience enhances your resume in a way employers love. Physicians deal with all kinds of people every day, and international travel will set you apart from the competition in a very competitive market. A well-rounded graduate stands a much better chance of landing an excellent position.

Choosing a destination

Here are some things to think about when considering an international college:
  • Climate – Do you prefer warm climates, cold climates, or markedly different seasons?
  • Friendliness – is the culture open, friendly, and receptive? Is the region politically stable?
  • Affordability – Are tuition fees and the cost of living within your budget?
  • School reputation – Is the medical school accredited and does it has a good reputation?  

Thinking outside the box

While many Indian students choose to attend medical schools in the U.S. and the U.K., those are not the only options. Destinations that are growing in popularity and welcome international students include Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Poland and the Caribbean. 
Australia is a wonderful place to study with a moderate climate and a friendly culture. The competition for spots will be lower in South Australia, and international students have a higher priority there compared to other areas in the country. Cost of tuition and schooling is moderate to high compared to the U.S. and U.K., which is much higher than India. 
New Zealand has two medical schools. The cost of tuition and living runs on the high side, and support for international students is strong. The New Zealand Medical Students’ Association offers support, events, and services to help you adjust to your new life and future career.
Malaysia has a long history of welcoming international medical students. The first Malaysian medical school was established in Singapore in 1905. Today, there are 21 private and public schools scattered throughout the country. The International Medical University (IMU) has a transfer programme in which the student does the first two years at a medical school in Kuala Lumpur and then finishes schooling at one of 26 partner medical schools in Australasia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada or the United States. Several other universities, such as Panang University and Manipal Medical College have a transfer arrangement on more limited terms.
Poland offers some of the most economical medical schooling in the world. Tuition can run as low as 14k per year, and the cost of living is reasonably low, although generally more expensive than living in India. Temperatures can drop below -15°C in the winter months and even the summers can be cold, foggy, and wet, but from an economical point of view, Poland is a great choice and the area is politically stable and friendly.
Medical school tuition in the Caribbean is more expensive than Poland, but far less than most other countries. The cost of living is comparable to mid-priced areas in the U.S. and Europe, and the climate is warm and tropical. The people are friendly and it's a fun place to live. 

Getting ahead

While you're in school, there are several ways you can add value to your resume. Good grades are only one piece of the puzzle. Employers are often swamped with hundreds of applications for every job, and recent graduates wind up on the bottom of the pile unless their resumes shine. Here are some tips for beating the competition:
1. Build your network. Today's most lucrative careers are all about networking. Make an impression and get contact information for everyone you meet in the medical industry. You never know when a chance meeting with an important doctor will end in a recommendation, so put your best foot forward, ask intelligent questions, and prepare for every meeting. 
2. This includes social networking. Be visible. Blog, share your experiences, and create profiles on many social networking sites. Be very aware that employers, including hospitals, regularly search social networking sites for applicants they are interested in. Make sure your name is only associated with things that show you to be a professional person with admirable hobbies. 
3. Join medical student clubs and organizations. Students who are engaged in college organizations make more friends and demonstrate their passion for the profession to their employers. It's important to be involved and helps you meet other aspiring doctors.
4. Volunteer. If you can find the time, volunteering at a local clinic, senior center, or other social-services related facility looks terrific on a website, even if your job is answering phones or serving soup.
5. Cultivate interesting hobbies. Even though it's not related to a doctor's career, taking up something like photography, diving, or mountain biking makes you – and your social profile – more interesting. Hobbies also help alleviate stress, and medical school can be quite stressful. Once you're a doctor, continuing to enjoy outside interests makes for a more balanced lifestyle.
6. Get published. Being published is an important part of a doctor's career and will help make you more visible in the field. Some medical magazines invite medical students to post blogs and write articles. Sending a detailed query about who you are and the subject you'd like to write about will help sell your article. Be sure to read what's already on the site and offer something that fits their guidelines.
Landing a residency position after you graduate can be challenging, but with a strong academic record, an established professional network, and details on your application that make you more interesting, you'll really stand out from the competition. There will always be a need for doctors, and upcoming shortages in the US will make the worldwide demand for new doctors rise dramatically. If you're just getting started, by the time you graduate the demand will be great...and the rewards even greater. 
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Neha Vaidya Neha Vaidya,
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