Medical Education Across Europe
2nd in a 3-part series about global medical education
Welcome to Part 2 of our series on global medical programmes. In this article, we look at undergraduate medical education in some European countries. Each country has its own system which is often regulated by their governments, making it complicated to navigate through this landscape.
1) Medicine in the UK:
One of the more popular options, the UK allows you to directly apply for medicine at the undergraduate level. However, medical education here are extremely competitive. To succeed, you need a strong personal statement (including relevant activities) and good grades in both, school and the entrance exams. Applications are made through the UCAS platform, where you can apply to four medical programmes and one related programme of your choice. The related programmes can include biomedical science, psychology or physiotherapy. Application deadlines are typically around 15 October of the year before intake. The final decision will be available at the end of March.
Each college and programme has individual entry requirements. Many colleges will accept graduates from Indian national boards such as ISC or CBSE. However, at times, a state board such as HSC may not meet the requirements. Along with this, almost all colleges will have certain prerequisites. For example, the University of Cambridge requires a total of 40-42 point in the IBDP with a seven, seven, six in your HL subjects. However, at the University of Exeter, an overall of 36 including a six in both HL biology and chemistry is accepted. In general, you should have studied chemistry and biology in grade 11 and 12. If studying the IBDP curriculum, either English, physics or mathematics should be taken at the Higher Level (HL) as well. Also, keep in mind that some courses may have specific requirements for the mathematics stream as well if studying the new IBDP math syllabus.
Apart from this, it is advisable to take an English language proficiency test such as the IELTS or TOEFL, especially if you have studied in an Indian board. Alongside this, you will have to give an entrance test, based on your selected programme–either the UCAT (previously UKCAT) or BMAT. The UCAT tests your aptitude for becoming a medical student, while the BMAT tests your subject knowledge in addition to your aptitude for medicine. It is important to note that no college will accept both.
After sending in your application, you need to prepare for the interview process. If shortlisted, you will be required to either take part in a traditional panel interview or multiple mini-interviews. Medical studies in the UK emphasises soft skills required alongside knowledge, including patient care, communication and teamwork. These qualities may be touched upon during the interview. This is why you need to be able to demonstrate them through your extracurricular activities, which you would have mentioned in your personal statement already. Interviews can take place anytime between the end of October and the end of March.
Another key point to note is that at some colleges, such as University College London, Oxford University and Imperial College London, you are required to be 18 years old by October 1 or November 1 of the year of intake. This is due to early clinical contact in these programmes. Some colleges such as Lancaster University, University of Manchester and King’s College London have a different structure, where the first few semesters are preclinical and the age requirement is applied later. It is important for you to individually determine your preferences for the type of academic environment that suits you.
Completing your studies in the UK usually requires seven or eight years of education and training, including five years of your MBChB/MBBS, an optional BSc year and two years of rotations. You placement during your rotation is based on your ranking at your college plus the results of the Situational Judgement Test (SJT), which you take in your final year. After completing your rotation, you can pursue different training pathways, depending on your interests and specialisation. If you choose to practice in another country, most will accept your degree, however, you will have to get registered with that country’s medical board and might have to take some qualification examinations.
2) Medicine in Ireland:
Another popular choice for medical education in Europe is Ireland, which has some highly-ranked programmes at Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), among others. As with the UK, here you can study medicine at the undergraduate level. Applications are made directly to the college, with deadlines usually around 1 February of the year of intake. Notifications of the final decision take place between July and August.
Specific entry qualifications vary per college and state boards such as HSC may not be accepted. As there are not too many international seats, these courses are competitive and strong grades are required. For example, RCSI requires a 36 overall in the IBDP, with a minimum of five in HL subjects and four in Standard Level (SL) subjects. Chemistry and either physics or biology should be taken at HL. Mathematics, English and a second language should also be taken for their five-year programme. For their six-year course, which includes a foundation year, a 33 overall is required, with English, mathematics and at least one science. Some colleges may also require you to send in IELTS or TOEFL scores. If you are a non-EU student, you might have to interview with the college, which might take place either over Skype or in-person.
Medical education in Ireland is usually divided into two broad phases–preclinical and clinical years. The preclinical years focus on lectures, problem-based learning and evidence-based medicine, along with small seminars, tutorials and laboratories. Early patient contact is integrated into the curriculum and during the clinical years. You will move to the college’s teaching hospitals to interact with patients and learn on a case-by-case basis. In total, you will be spending either five or six years to get your MB,BCh,BAO after which you can specialise during your graduate study.
After completion of your medical degree, you must complete one year as an intern in a recognised post before being eligible for full registration with the Irish Medical Council. Most of the degrees taught in Ireland are accepted internationally, but you will have to register with the medical council and take the required qualification examination.
3) Medicine in Central and Eastern Europe:
Interest in medical education in Central and Eastern Europe has grown in recent years thanks to several well-established colleges that teach in English. One such course is at Charles University in the Czech Republic. It has five faculties, three of which are in Prague, one in Pilsen and one in Hradec Králové. Though the degree you will receive at each faculty is the same, they all have their own medical facilities and requirements. For example, the minimum IBDP score at the First Faculty of Medicine is 36 points. Along with this, you will need to give the college’s entrance exam that has multiple dates in May and June. This exam tests your science and English skills and is combined with an oral interview component which is oriented towards your personality, motivation and aptitude. For most faculties, passing the entrance exam, fully conducted in English, is sufficient proof of language proficiency, but some might require you to take the TOEFL or IELTS.
Applications are made through an online application form on the Charles University website and the deadline is usually the end of February or March. The IBDP, as well as Indian boards, are accepted, but you will have to get your documents validated by a lawyer, or notary public which must contain apostille or a super-legalisation clause when you submit them to the college. The course is completed in six years giving you a MUDr which is equivalent to the MBBS in India. The first three years are pre-clinical and the final three years are clinical with block-schedule teaching, where you will gain practical clinical experience. The college also provides two years of Czech lessons to help you assimilate better. The courses offered by all five faculties are globally recognised but you need to give the license exams for the specific country.
The Medical University of Warsaw in Poland also has a six-year undergraduate MD programme. Students are either required to give an entrance test or present BMAT scores to the college if you have studied in an Indian board. The entry requirements for the IBDP includes biology and chemistry at HL and physics or mathematics at SL. If you are missing one of these subjects, you will be required to take a multiple-choice entrance exam that tests you in that subject. You are also required to take the TOEFL or IELTS to prove your English proficiency. The application deadline is mid-May and you need to apply directly on the university website to the course in question. The course structure is similar to Charles University, wherein your last three years are your clinical years. During the summer break, students are required to take clinical clerkships as part of their degree. This degree is accepted in the EU and several global destinations as well.
English medical courses are also taught in Bulgaria at Plovdiv Medical University, Sofia Medical University, Varna Medical University, Pleven Medical University and the Faculty of Medicine at Trakia University, all which give you an MD degree. You have to apply directly to the college’s website to start the application process and the deadlines for each varies. For instance, Pleven Medical University has its deadlines late in the year on 1 October and the academic year starts in February. Plovdiv Medical University has its deadline for international students listed as mid-June.
The admission requirements vary based on the college, but most require you to have studied science subjects in grades 11 and 12, sit individual entrance tests in chemistry and biology and attend an interview. If your high school diploma lists ‘science’ as a single subject, you will have to submit a letter from your high school or junior college indicating what is included in this discipline. It is recommended you do either the TOEFL or the IELTS as well. The general structure for these programmes is a six-year structure with two years of pre-clinical study, three years of clinical study and one year of state clinical practice or your internship. The degrees from most Bulgarian colleges are globally accepted, but your home country might require you to give license examinations if you’re returning.
4) Rest of Europe:
Several other European destinations offer incredible medical education and are popular destinations for other undergraduate subjects as well. However, a key requirement for a lot of these colleges is knowing the local language, since the language of instruction is most likely a combination of English and the local language. For instance, Germany requires students to have taken the DSH or TestDaF to prove language proficiency at a minimum of a B1 level, as all medical courses are in their native language. The Netherlands has two colleges–University of Groningen and Maastricht University–that offer BSc medical programmes taught in English for three years, but for an additional three-year masters degree and one year of training, you need to be fluent in Dutch. If you’re well versed in one of these languages, it might be worth exploring these destinations.
When considering medical courses outside your country of residence, consider what qualification you will get at the end of the degree as well as where you would like to practice in the future. If deciding to practice in another country, you need to check the acceptance of your international degree. Along with this, colleges in many countries change their acceptance policies every few years, so make sure you are updated and aware of what the requirements are in your country of choice. For India specifically, regardless of the country you have graduated from, you might have to take the NEET examination before leaving to study. Also, several international degrees are accepted here. However, as this list keeps getting updated, it is important to check the degree’s eligibility before you apply.
For any further information about medical studies abroad, get in touch with us.