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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

THE DOCTOR'S DILEMMA (apologies to G.B. Shaw)



As an English Literature specialist, I couldn't resist using the title shown above. To be honest, it's not really appropriate for what I want to write about today. If anything, a more suitable heading would be "The Prospective Medical Student's Dilemma," although that isn't, perhaps, quite as catchy.

This is the time of year when I get lots of potential students and their parents in my office. Whenever I ask the young person present what his or her intended area of study is and they say Medicine, my heart sinks. Together with Dentistry, it is the toughest option they could possibly pick for overseas study.

This week, we entertained a representative from Queen Mary College, London, (QMC) who delighted me when he said that of the four places for Dentistry open to international students, KYUEM candidates had been offered two of them. He could not recall an occasion when more than one offer for such a course had been made to a single school or college.

But while that makes us here at the college very proud, it highlights the hardship facing really bright students around the world who want to become dentists and doctors. There simply aren't enough places for them in Britain. I have previously mentioned local institutions of excellence such as Penang Medical College (PMC) where I was pleased to be an invited guest last week for the opening of a new centre. Yesterday, I heard of something else to consider: QMC are opening a satellite campus (for medicine) on the Mediterranean island of Malta. We will receive further details from them in due course, but for now it raises some intriguing prospects. To start with, applications will not need to go through UCAS and secondly, there is no requirement for the British Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), which is mandatory for mainland UK.medical schools.

Then there are the universities in Ireland, either directly or via a partner institution such as PMC. These are top quality medical schools offering world class training. Australia, too, offers superb medical training, albeit with a later start in the year.

Finally, and most expensively, there is the option of obtaining a related first degree and then applying to do Medicine as a postgraduate student (mandatory in the US these days). This adds three years to the training and a great deal more to the cost.

So, I guess the bottom line is that unless you are one of the privileged few, the (would-be) Doctor's Dilemma today is lack of available places on courses. This is why I keep hammering home a key requirement of all KYUEM potential medical students: you must have a Plan B.

Let me conclude this post by wishing all our juniors and seniors the very best of luck in their trial exams, which are taking place over the next two weeks.

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