Medical education has evolved over the years and now equips a new generation of future doctors and healthcare professionals who can practice globally. In this changing scenario, the importance of medical schools providing international, quality training for students to become primary care doctors is more important than ever.
According to Professor Hossam Hamdy, Chancellor, Gulf Medical University in Ajman, the UAE has made great strides in widening access to quality health education aimed at advancing healthcare and expanding higher education, in addition to the presence of a strong infrastructure for privatisation and business development. “Students in the UAE have largely benefitted as the teaching focuses on multi-disciplinary subjects to a multinational audience,” he said.
Corrine Vish, Director of Admissions, International at St. George's University, said that a global perspective of medical education in international medical schools has exposed students to prevalent health concerns in other cultures, compared to obtaining an understanding of local health concerns only.
“This refines their medical skills and gives them the benefit of being able to continue their career around the world, equipped with the skillset to address industry gaps and challenges, as and when required.
International medical institutions are responsible for exposing pupils to faculty and peers from different backgrounds. This diversity helps to shape the cognition of the students, in addition to enhancing their interpersonal skills. It prepares aspiring doctors to face the challenges of the real world, no matter the region they are from, or live in,” said Vish.
Prof. Hamdy said that GMU has been witnessing an increase in demand year-on-year for new, diversified programmes. With student diversity from 90 countries, and new nationalities being added every year, the university offers greater diversity that enriches the overall learning experience and quality.
“Students have the opportunity to clinically train themselves at Thumbay network’s academic hospitals daycare, labs, pharmacies and clinics. Hence, GMU trains 20 per cent of the doctors and approximately 60 per cent of the healthcare professionals in the UAE,” he added.
According to Vish, getting into medical school in the US has always been a popular, and highly competitive process, especially for international students. Recent data suggests that the number of med school applicants is reaching an all-time high. The acceptance rates of US medical schools range from anywhere between 20 per cent to just under three per cent.
She further added: “We find that students who attend St. George’s University are looking for dynamic training that can equip them for a range of different post-graduate training options. The data speaks for itself. According to FSMB physician licensure data, 2021, St. George’s University is the largest source of physicians licensed in the US — more than any other medical school in the world.
“Similarly, the ability to complete clinical rotations (the final two years of the MD Program) in the US and UK at over 75 hospital and health centres is of great interest to students as it allows them to think about where they want to practice medicine, and how to train there.”
When choosing a university, students should keep in mind that the teaching of health professions’ curriculum responds to the changing understandings of the term global health, according to Prof. Hamdy.
“When making a decision to enrol, they should check that the health professions education provider is adept in practicing training from the perspective of more disciplines than just medicine to reflect the social and economic causes of ill health. They should also watch out for how well the institution is adapting international collaborations and sharing resources; how they are enhancing the learning experience of students to effectively impart professional training, etc.”
For example, AI and virtual reality-based technologies are now being greatly emphasised to equip professionals with futuristic skills and e-learning methodologies are on the rise too.
Medical school is expensive, but so are many of the other major purchases a person will make throughout their life, according to Vish.
“While it is understandable that you want to keep your financial burden to a minimum, limiting yourself to the cheapest medical schools could be a mistake. Medical education is incredibly demanding. It is important to attend an institution that is fully equipped to help you succeed, and that might not always line up with the lowest tuition rates. Some programmes have slightly higher tuition rates due to taking extra measures that ensure student success,” she explained.
She also said that partial-tuition bursary awards are available to eligible non-US citizen/permanent residents who demonstrate financial need and can fund the balance of their education beyond the bursary award. Scholarships for all courses in GMU are based on the merit criteria and admission policy of the university.
“Being a doctor is a career that requires a lifetime commitment. Doctors have the passion to help people but are also problem-solvers. These qualities are developed to a large extent during their educational years and educational institutions play a significant role in nurturing these qualities,” she added.