In recent months, there has been a lot of discussion about Indian students going abroad to study medicine. More than 20,000 Indian students enrolled in Ukrainian medical universities were forced to return due to the ongoing war. Hundreds of Indian students also returned from China during the pandemic and both groups of students still face an uncertain future.
These situations have highlighted the shortage of medical seats in India and the need for Indian students to seek admission abroad. Although most consider overseas education to be an expensive affair, what many students don’t know is that they can study for a nominal cost, or even free, on many courses. In some cases, such as a postgraduate medical course in the US, they can earn between $5,000 and $10,000 per month as a stipend.
Medical admission scenario in India vs USA
There are around 42,182 PG medical seats in India, this includes MD (Doctor of Medicine) and MS (Master of Surgery) courses. This year, more than 1.6 lakh students appeared for NEET PG and 89,000 of them cleared the exam, and will now compete for 42,182 seats. This statistic shows that every year approximately 1.20 lakh students who clear NEET PG are unable to opt for their desired specializations and are unable to pursue another career in India.
If you consider recent data from the US National Residency Matching Program (NRMP), which is the official entity responsible for matching the desired specialty for international medical graduates, there are more than 35,000 positions available for international students for PG courses. Aspirants from India are also competing for these positions. Each year, approximately 8,000 students take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) aspiring to a medical residency in the US, and 50 percent of them qualify. If more students learn about the process and how it works, that number may increase.
Why is residency in the United States beneficial for students?
Currently, the Foreign Medical Graduate (FMG) examination is a licensing test for medical students to practice in India. FMGs from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States have been recognized as doctors in that country and are exempt from this examination.
Regarding the finances in the United States, instead of charging students a high fee for postgraduate medical education, the courses are free. Once students are accepted into the residency program, also known as the post-graduate medical education program in India, they receive a stipend of $5,000 to $10,000 per month, which is offered by all US universities.
On the other hand, a PG student in a private or reputed university ends up paying around 1.5 to 2.5 million rupees for postgraduate education in India. Apart from this, the number of specialization seats in India is also very limited with almost one seat or branch or specialization available. Therefore, students have to look for another source where they can access their desired specialization for postgraduate studies.
The residency program in USA is a free program because they need high quality doctors, and most of the hospitals are well equipped with all the latest facilities and medical equipment for diagnostic purposes.
There are 35,000 seats available in 31 disciples in the US for which foreign medical graduates from all countries can apply through a common port. However, it is a very complex algorithm to achieve the right match, and despite the high number of applicants, about 2000 places remain vacant. This is because students are often not aware of how to take advantage of the process.
What should a PG aspirant know?
The USMLE, while mandatory for admission to US residency, is not the only factor. Medical education industry experts have said recent data show that admissions in the past depended heavily on the USMLE score, while in recent years its weight in the process has dropped considerably. of admission A student who passes the test may not always be the best.
Now, profiling plays an important role in admissions. What aspirants can do to strengthen their candidacy is to focus on building a strong profile. For example, most universities in the United States are research-intensive, and so students are suggested to do research projects under the guidance of senior faculty. Original research work done by students published in peer-reviewed journals with adequate reach index is another plus point.
Similarly, understanding the final rounds of admission (Match Day and SOAP) is helpful. Since there are several specialties, foreign medical graduates are asked to indicate their preferences according to a ranking list for the specialization they are interested in. The NRMP uses a mathematical algorithm to match the program with the applicant based on their top-ranked preferred options. It is imperative to understand and study the workings of this system to maximize your chances of landing a PG seat.
Important dates for applying for main residence 2023
The following are the dates specified on the NRMP website:
* September 15: Registration is open until January 31, 2023
* January 31: Standard Registration Terms for Match Day and SOAP Process
* February 1: The classification opens
* March 1: Classification Order List Certification Terms
* March 17: Match day when applicants can find the result on NRMP website
(The author is Executive Director of Astute Academy)