Why Are So Many American Students Heading Overseas for Medical School?

Securing a Residency After Overseas Medical School

Save the stress of being a physician for the operating room. Don't create more trouble by getting a diploma from a medical school that lacks accreditation.
Save the stress of being a physician for the operating room. Don't create more trouble by getting a diploma from a medical school that lacks accreditation.

After confirming that your prospective school meets all of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) criteria, you'll also want to make sure you can secure a residency that's recognized by the licensing boards where you intend to practice medicine. U.S. licensing boards require an applicant to complete a residency that's accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) [source: AMA]. Otherwise, your hard-earned Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) diploma will be just a worthless piece of paper in the United States.

Keep in mind that your chances of landing an ACGME-sanctioned residency may be slimmer if you're a graduate of an offshore medical school; some residency programs give preference to those who've earned diplomas from U.S. medical programs.

Some American graduates of overseas medical schools have landed residencies at top hospitals in the United States and say their medical school training is just as good as any education they could have gotten at home. Yet, others have been unable to snag a residency at any ACGME-approved program. Not only are they not practicing medicine, they're also carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.

Whether you've studied Latin before or will do so for the first time in medical school, remember this phrase: Caveat emptor, meaning "buyer beware." It's never to early to talk with admissions officers and professors at residency programs, as well as with representatives at the licensing boards where you plan to practice medicine. Before you even consider applying to an overseas medical school, learn the ins and outs of becoming licensed. Speaking with several licensed physicians who've graduated from medical schools abroad as well as those who've earned degrees from U.S. medical schools can also help you make the best decision about where to get your medical education.

Examine the links below to learn more about overseas medical schools as well as residency programs and how to practice medicine in the United States.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • American Medical Association. "Medical Licensure." 2010. (March 10, 2010) http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/education-careers/becoming-physician/medical-licensure.shtml
  • Bianco, Carl, M.D. "How Becoming A Doctor Works." HowStuffWorks.com. (March 10, 2010) https://www.howstuffworks.com/becoming-a-doctor.htm
  • Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. "About ECFMG." (March 10, 2010) http://www.ecfmg.org/about.html
  • Encyclopedia Brittanica. "Medical Education: Requirements for Practice." (March 10, 2010) http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/372218/medical-education/35522/Requirements-for-practice
  • Hundley, Kris."Investigators want to know if the quality of offshore medical schools justifies the cost." St. Petersburg Times. Jan. 1, 2010. (March 10, 2010) http://www.tampabay.com/news/health/medicine/article1061189.ece