Considering medical school abroad?

Are you considering medical school abroad and a career in the medical field?

October 13, 2022

The following information is a guide for undergraduate students who are considering medical school abroad. Basic information to apply to medical schools abroad is provided, along with advice and guidance as you explore this education option. Please refer to the Considering Medical School tip sheet as well for additional guidance on which offers guidance on considering medical school. 

  • First, it is important to be clear about your intentions – Why do you want to pursue medical school abroad? Is there something about the training aboard that will help you achieve your goals? Are you confident in your decision to pursue a medical career?  Reflecting on yourself and your motivations is an important first step.
  • Exploring the medical programs and the medical profession in the country you are considering will be important. Use reliable career and education sources and consider networking with medical professionals who have studied abroad and returned to Canadian to work in the field.
  • The next steps, broadly speaking, are to then gather detail information about the programs, develop a plan, and if this is the right choice for you, apply!
  • In The United States, the application process is centralized through American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) . The AMCAS site is a wealth of information about schools, applications, fees, application tips and costs information.  
  • The Atlantic Bridge Program outlines several schools in the Ireland that have Medical Schools and is a good source to explore programs, learn about application requirements and reach out for more information from each school.  
  • For programs in Australia, OzTrekk, an education consultancy organization, provides information, guidance and application support for Australian Medical Schools (along with other professional degrees). 
  • For programs in other countries, including the Caribbean, you can refer to the LCME Directory of Accredited Medical Education Programs 
  • Be sure the Medical Education (i.e. MD program) and MD Graduate Education (Residency) are accredited.  
  • Research pathways to License Registration if returning to Ontario to practice Medicine. HealthForce Ontario is an organization that supports internationally training health professionals transition to work in Ontario. They are a good source to inquire about license registration and processes.  
  • Understand Medical Residency training (Graduate Medical Education) when considering residency abroad, or competing for residency spaces in Canada. There are limited residency spaces for Internationally trained MD and some specializations have less residency spots than others, making it even more competitive.  The Canadian Residency Matching Service provides some information about the matching process and realistic data about internationally trained applicants.  
  • If you plan to complete your residency training abroad, be sure to understand the licensing expectations in Canada and reach out to an advisor at HealthForce Ontario to ensure you are aware of the timelines (it can take 1-2 years) , applications, and requirements.  
  • Be realistic about the financial costs of international tuition fees, exchange rate differences,  travel and living costs as these costs  significantly higher than in Canada. For example, studying Medicine in the USA can be up to 5X higher than in Canada. 
  • With over 150 medical schools in the USA, there are more options, however, not all schools accept international applicants. Approximately 1/3 of USA med schools consider Canadian applicants. 
  • Due to the number of schools in the USA, you might find many schools that accept MCAT and cGPA scores lower than what is typical of Canadian Medical schools.   
  • Most USA medical schools require personal statements and secondary essay questions which can be very time consuming so consider being selective if considering US schools. Note that USA schools value shadowing and clinical experience 
  • Most USA medical schools require multiple prerequisite courses so researching US schools early in your undergraduate program will help you plan to include these requirements.  Check admissions deadlines and requirements as certain academic prerequisites will need to be completed by January or April of the year of the application. 
  • There are “rolling” admissions which means the applications will be reviewed as they are received. The application period ranges from May – November, with the recommendation to apply early.  
  • There are secondary applications you will need to complete a couple weeks after initial application submission. This application works to highlight the characteristics that would make you a great doctor. Think about how you can add value to the medical system and what makes you a good candidate. 
  • To practice medicine in Canada, you will still need to be licensed in Canada. To learn about the licensing process in Ontario, refer directly to  College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario 
  • Residency matching is a competitive process, and USA residency programs prefer USA citizens, while Canadian residency programs prefer individuals who have completed their medical studies in Canadian institutions. 
  • For residency placements in the USA, you will need working visa documents. To learn more about legal requirements for medical residency programs and practicing medicine in the USA 
  • In the USA, there is also the option to complete a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Discover what DO is, and if it is the right path for you. 
  • We are here for you. For assistance with all-things further education, feel free to reach out to the Student Success Centre in whichever way is most comfortable for you. We offer workshops, one-on-one appointments, research and application support, interview preparation and many more services