Differences in Medical Degrees Across World Regions

Pursuing a medical career in the US, Canada, UK and Australia have vastly different processes. Find out about the different routes and requirements to becoming a doctor during your higher education in these overseas countries.

If you are going to study medicine outside India, then you need to know about the differences in medical degrees across popular student destinations like UK, Australia, USA and Canada. In fact, there can be significant differences in the degree from one country to the other.

The most striking difference lies in the fact that in Australia and in the UK, you can study a medical degree program right after leaving high school. In Canada and USA, however, you have to have a 2 to 4 year undergraduate degree under your belt before you can study a medical course. Here is a closer look at the differences.

Differences in Medical Degrees

Medical Degrees in Canada or the US

US requirements for medical education are prescribed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Before you can do a graduate medical degree course in the US, you must have done at least 3 to 4 years of pre-med undergrad courses. This means that if you are preparing for US med school with undergrad studies in the US, you should take courses in PCB (Physics, Chemistry & Biology) along with English. Particular medical schools may have their own internal requirements.

After your undergrad studies, you will usually need to take the MCAT test (Medical College Admission Test) and apply for medical school through the AMCAS application system. When you gain admission, you must study for 4 more years to gain a D.M. (Doctor of Medicine) or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree. You can now begin practicing, but only after completing a residency training program of 3 to 8 years, depending on your area of specialization. You may even pursue fellowships for further training after this.

The Canadian system is similar but the only difference is that only 2 years of undergrad studies may be enough for admission in some schools. You may also be able to fast-track your way through med school in 3 years instead of 4.

Medical Degrees in the UK or Australia

The UK and Australian medical education system is similar to that in India. You can start by taking an undergraduate course in medicine (typically lasting 5 to 6 years) in either country. If you are already a graduate in another subject, you may be allowed to complete your course in 4 years.

Depending on which UK medical college you are applying to, you may be required to take the UKCAT (UK Clinical Aptitude Test). This is a general test of your aptitude and mental ability rather than scientific skills and knowledge. If you are a resident of UAE, you can achieve the University Clinical Aptitude Test by attending quality UCAT classes in Dubai from competitive exam preparation centers like Sage education services. An equivalent test for the Australian system is the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). If you are applying as a graduate, you will be sitting for the GAMSAT test (Graduate Medical School Admissions Test).

After this course, you will earn an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) degree. This is more or less equivalent to the US and Canadian D.M. and D.O. degrees. If you continue to reside in the UK you take the Foundation Program for 2 years, win placements in specializations, and then apply for Medical Specialty Training.

Things are slightly different in Australia. After MBBS you need to complete a year of internship or supervised practice. After which comes two years of residency and then specialized training. You can check out our special guide for studying in Australia.

The one thing common to all these various routes to becoming a doctor is that it involves years of study and practice and plenty of hard work. Of course, the reward of your hard work pays off with plenty of interest in the future.

The following articles on scholarships for medical students might also interest you - Scholarships in US for courses in medicine and Medical studies scholarships for study abroad.

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