Dear Mentor:

Should I donate money to go to medical school in India?

I am US Citizen living here for about 16 years. Recently I finished my Master's in Computer Information System. I have masters in Mathematics from India also. Now I want to go to medical school in India, because it is hard to get admission here. Can I get an admission in medical school basis on donation? Some 15 to 20 years ago, they used to accept donation so the students can get admission in medical college. I don't know if it is still true or not. How long is the schooling before residency in India? Is it worth doing medicine in India and come back here to do the residency?

Donation for Med Studies, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Dear Donation for Med Studies:

You sound like a perennial student, not unlike the founders of iMahal. But your diversity of interest in education certainly beats theirs.

Donation-based medical schools abound in India. The going rate varies from school to school. For those who are not familiar with the context for what we just said, many medical schools exist in India that admit students for the amount of money they can "donate" to the school, rather than the student's academic performance (grades) or performance on an entrance exam. They typically do not waive the basic academic qualification, which stands at Grade 12 under the 10+2 high school education system in India. Thus, all you need is a successful completion of the high school education. Top-tier medical schools do not follow this practice. The first degree in medicine is called the MBBS. The MBBS program is 5 years in duration: 4 years of classroom and lab instruction, and one year of internship.

Whether the donation-based medical degree from India is worth anything to you dependents on what you can do with it in the US, because the US is where you wish to eventually reside and practice. Let us first understand the US system of medicine. You can not practice medicine before obtaining a license to practice medicine. You are required to complete a residency program in the US before you can get the license. This residency program lasts 3 to 4 years long depending on your specialization. To enter a residency program, you must complete the USMLE (US Medical License Exam). Your ability to pass the USMLE will depend on the quality of education you receive at your school and on preparation through personal efforts. Before you donate money, you may wish to investigate whether any graduates of the program have gone to the US to practice medicine and how they have faired.

So if you want to pursue medicine, buckle up for a long ride of about 8 to 9 years.

You may know that about one-fourth of the physicians practicing in the US were trained in another country, and a large number of these physicians were in fact trained in India. Whether these physicians were trained at donation-based schools is a question that we can not answer.

You may wish to read an earlier Dear Mentor: column: How do I do medical residency in the US?

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