Becoming a doctor follows different procedures in different countries. But two things are a given—students have to complete a bachelor course before proceeding to a postgraduate or specialisation course.
Aspirants have to complete a course called M.D. in USA. It stands for Doctor of Medicine. But before this, students will have to complete an undergraduate course in preparation to become an M.D. It’s called the ‘pre-med’ stage. Following the completion of the undergraduate pre-med course, a student can apply for the M.D. programme.
In other countries (India, Bangladesh, Bahrain), one needs to complete a course called Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery or MBBS. Following this, students can enrol for the M.D. course. However, unlike MBBS where a student becomes a doctor after completing the programme, a pre-med course does not guarantee the same designation.
Therefore, the study of medicine in USA for international students can be very different from that in their own countries. But students who want to study medicine in USA after their MBBS in India need not fret because they can definitely still do that too.
Not just in the USA, students can even pursue an M.D. course in the Caribbean nations. There are a number of top institutions like the American University of Antigua College of Medicine or simply AUA that accepts Indian applicants. What’s even better is that you can directly practise in the U.S. after you complete the course. This is because it is a requirement at AUA that students take the same exams as students in the U.S. More on this later in the article.
Pre-med versus MBBS subjects
During the pre-med stage in preparation for the M.D. in USA, students usually take core science subjects. These include biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and physics. They also have to make sure that these subjects come with substantial lab work. Moreover, maths is also an essential subject. The idea is to ensure that students are thorough in the foundational knowledge of these subjects.
In MBBS, on the other hand, students will study more specialised subjects related to the human body and its functions since the course is aimed at preparing the student to become a doctor. These include studies in anatomy, psychiatry, biochemistry, dermatology, physiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, community medicine, paediatrics, surgery, pathology, pharmacology, anesthesiology, microbiology, radiology, and others.
Tests and Exams
Getting into a medical school in the U.S. and then passing the M.D. course is a rigorous process. Students in the undergraduate pre-med course need to prepare to get into a medical school before they even graduate. The broad requirements include selecting colleges, preparing applications, ensuring you have a good bio-data with plenty of community service, quality recommendations, and appropriate internships.
Aspirants also need to have a good GPA to back their undergraduate course along with a good score in the Medical College Admission Test or MCAT. For most medical schools, it is mandatory that the candidate showcase their admission test scores while applying.
For international students looking to pursue an M.D. in the U.S., the requirement is more or less the same. Additionally, they will have to pass the SAT, language proficiency tests like the TOEFL and the IELTS.
Once in medical school, students will have to attempt the United States Medical Licensing Examination or the USMLE, which consists of Step 1, Step 2 and Step 3. These will have to be attempted on three separate occasions during their M.D. course. The purpose of this examination is to test the competency of the student and their application of learning at different stages. Only when a student passes all three USMLEs, he or she is given a license to practice as a doctor.
Time and Duration
The duration of an MBBS course is four years while an M.D. is for another three years. The undergraduate pre-med course is four years while the USA M.D. programme is for four years. In the USA, aspirants climb up the ladder and get more specialisation as an Osteopathic Doctor, also called DO (Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine). Those who complete only an M.D. programmes are called allopathic doctors. Pursuing a DO will require an additional 200 hours of training.
Differences in fee
The cost of pursuing an M.D. in the U.S. can be anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 depending on the institution. A pre-med bachelor course will also be somewhere in the same range. The courses are costly but the earnings are nothing compared to the initial spending. The median salary of a doctor in the USA is around $200,000 per annum which means that the money spent on pursuing a career in medicine will be earned back in no time.
The cost of pursuing an MBBS and an M.D. degree in India might seem lesser than an M.D. in the U.S. However, it is only slightly less than the cost of M.D. in the U.S. Depending on the medical college you select, the cost could be the same or even more. It should be noted that the fees of a government college in India is drastically lower than other colleges (between $5,000 to $15,000).
Advantages of pursuing an M.D. in the U.S.
The USA has one of the topmost medical institutions in the world. So it goes without saying that once you get a medical degree from any institution in the country, you will be considered the best. The facilities and resources in these intuitions are the best in the world. The research and application here are top-notch, which explains why the best medical minds from other countries flock to the U.S. to realise their dreams of pursuing higher education in the country.
After becoming an M.D. in the U.S. you can choose to practice within the country itself. Rest assured that there will always be a job to fill as doctors never run out of jobs. As a result, you don’t just study in the best institutions of the world, you also get to ply your trade in the best hospitals and research institutions that are known the world over.
The cost of an M.D. in the U.S. might be a major deterrent at first, but judging by the high salary, benefits and career opportunities that will be on offer after completion of the course, investing in yourself will totally be worth it. In addition, you will recoup your spending within a short time. Studying in the U.S. also means that you can practice almost anywhere in the world.
MD at AUA
Getting into medical institutions in the U.S. is quite a task but at AUA, there are no hassles. The aspirant need not attempt any separate entrance examination, although there are some basic requirements. It follows the standard examination (USMLE) in its course. A large chunk of the student’s clinical rotations will be in U.S. affiliated institutions. This means that once you graduate, you can practice directly in that country. A degree from AUA is approved by the U.S. Department of Education and medical boards of various states in the country. It’s safe to say that a degree from AUA is almost equal to an M.D. in the U.S.