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FPJ-ED: Planning to study medicine abroad? Here are some things to keep in mind

Here's how students and their parents can make a diligent and considered choice

EduPeer | Updated on: Friday, March 04, 2022, 08:25 PM IST

Photo: Freepik
Photo: Freepik
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Amidst the crisis in Ukraine and the continued evacuation efforts by the Indian government, we can’t help but observe that Ukraine and other East European countries remain a choice for many Indian students to pursue medicine. According to media reports, the Ukrainian institution of medicine and science states that Ukraine has about 18,000 Indian students pursuing medicine studies. In last few years, Eastern European countries have gained acceptance from Indian students planning to study medicine. The Ukraine crisis has not only brought out a lot of focus on the stranded students but has also provided the need to examine the pros and cons of studying medicine in these countries. Let’s look at these in detail so that students and families can make a diligent and considered choice.

1. The NEET is a competitive examination

In 2021, almost 16,00,000 students ended up giving the NEET exam, for 80,000 seats. This kind of competition leaves several students behind in the race to study medicine. There are many international universities that may not insist on NEET score but if one wants to come back and practice in India, there is no escaping NEET. National Medical Commission (erstwhile MCI) mandates students to qualify NEET examination, even if they want to study overseas, to practice medicine in India. To top this, in order to qualify to practise back in India, you are also required to give the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE). Only then does the National Medical Commission permit you to work here.

One would advise students to give themselves two years of planned study during high school years of eleventh and twelfth in order to crack NEET. Consider your high school, Biology, Chemistry as the foundation to build medical education. The exam pressure is undoubtedly daunting but we suggest that a disciplined approach over two years will go a long way in getting a decent NEET score which will put the student in a better place. Medicine studies are long and hard. You have to go through the grind to finally get to your goals.

2. Cost

Pursuing medicine in India would mean shelling out anywhere from Rs 50 lakhs to a crore (except Government colleges for high NEET scorers). In comparison, East European countries charge about Rs 20-30 lakhs for five-six years of study. This, coupled with no insistence on any entrance exam or NEET score may appear convenient but this is just a tip of iceberg. A good medical study requires three key component: trained faculty, advance facilities and access to hospitals as medicine is an application oriented subject. Many programmes may not have these three basics covered and this can lead to a compromised education. So, look at other factors apart from cost and NEET test clearance.

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3. Practising in India

It is advisable to look at the list of the programs approved by the National Medical Commission and select only those programs which are recognised. In order to practise medicine in India, you have to pass the Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE). Data from Annual Reports of National Board of Examination says that the number of medical graduates who took the test increased from 12,116 in 2015 to 35,774 in 2020. Despite significant increase in the number of students taking FMGE examination, the pass percentage is still at an abysmal 16%. This is an important factor to consider while making a decision.

4. Look at credible international study options

Studying medicine is a decision that will impact the next few decades of your life. The competition in NEET definitely makes it hard to find your place in India. Therefore, international study comes along with pros such as experiencing diversity, managing your life, gaining access to better equipment and technology. There are several credible, recognised options available in the UK, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland. Don’t resort to a hack or an easy way out where no homework or test is required. A commitment to medicine requires long term research and foresight. With respect to adjacent study areas, there is Biology, Cellular and Microbiology, Bio Medical Engineering, Neuroscience and Health informatics which are emerging fields and are likely to grow substantially in the coming decades. Also, it is not necessary that the only good career can be built on medicine. Exploring alternate options and making an informed, considered decision is the minimum requirement for you to commit time and financial resources.

(The above article have been provided by EduPeer, a consulting firm which specialises in the international education space)

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Published on: Saturday, March 05, 2022, 07:00 AM IST