Aspiring Doctors, Look Outside Asia for Medical School

Technology | 10 Jul 2019

By Dr. G Richard Olds, president of St. George’s University, Grenada

More than 1.5 million Indian students recently registered for the NEET, the national standardized test that governs medical school admissions. 

Unfortunately, Indian medical schools only have room for 72,000 new students.  That means that hordes of qualified applicants with high test scores get turned away -- even though many of them would make excellent doctors. Altogether, 95 percent of test takers will not be accepted to Indian medical schools.

Students across Asia face the same problem. Medical schools can accommodate just a tiny fraction of the people who apply. Fortunately, there are plenty of high-caliber schools outside Asia where students can pursue their dream of becoming a doctor.

Consider the long odds aspiring doctors face in Singapore. The Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, which the British magazine Times Higher Education ranked as the best medical school in Asia, accepted just 300 of the more than 2,000 students who applied in 2017.  The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine accepted less than one in ten applicants that year. 

The odds are just as low for students in Hong Kong. The Chinese University of Hong Kong accepted less than 9 percent of applicants to its six-year medical program in 2017.

Students who don't receive acceptance letters from Asia's hyper-selective medical schools needn't abandon their dreams of becoming doctors.

Several international medical schools in the Caribbean, Europe, and elsewhere offer rigorous, top-notch educations. Consider the performance of the graduates of the school I lead, St. George's University in Grenada, on the United States Medical Licensing Examination, one of the toughest medical exams in the world. For the past eight years, 95 percent of our students have passed on their first try. That's the same passage rate as graduates of U.S. and Canadian medical schools.

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