The Possibility of doing Clinical Rotations in the student’s home country
– Questions and Answers
Medical studies is a complex topic. Many students dream about becoming doctors but don’t really know what to expect from a medical education.
We know that a medical degree is divided into two halves, one being the pre-clinical and the second half being the clinical rotations starting from the 4th year.
The most interesting part is when these clinical rotations are allowed to be done in a different country and of course, your home country, but how does it work really?
There are many questions that should be answered in regards to this and that’s why we sat with Dr. Moshe Cohen, CEO and founder of MD international Academy that prepare and sends students to many different medical faculties abroad in English programs.
Dr. Cohen, has been doing this for almost two decades now and was one of the pioneers in the field of PreMedical studies back in the year 2006 when he started this rewarding path of helping students and medical universities alike.
In this interview, we ask Dr. Cohen crucial questions that students should know before engaging to a medical degree and mainly about the posibility for clinical rotations in their home country. Here’s what he told us:
Question: What are clinical rotations?
Answer: Medical studies in European international schools last 6 years. During the first years, students learn the theoretical foundations of medicine – Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pathology, pharmacology and more. During the later years, the students gain clinical experiences in hospitals – meeting patients and learning the foundations of practical skills.
Most programs enable students to practice some of the clinical experiences in their country of origin, using their mother tongue and familiar cultural background.
Question: How long are the clinical rotations in my degree?
Answer: The duration and number of clinical rotations, that can be performed in the students’ country of origin, is determined by the university only. There are universities where the rotations can only be performed during the sixth year, others allow it as early as the fourth year. The number of weeks per rotation and per year is according to the university’s curriculum.
Q: What is the purpose of the program?
Answer: students from many countries travel to study medicine in international English-speaking faculties. Upon graduation, the young physicians are expected to integrate into the health systems of their country. This task is sometimes not easy, because many fields are highly competitive. In order to improve the chances of finding a place to specialize in, physicians should become known by the heads of department while they are still medical students.
Question: What is the interest of the hospitals?
Answer: Many students, that are not accepted to medical studies back at home; hence, travelling abroad to study in international European schools. They are usually extremely motivated and have great potential to become excelling physicians. Hospitals, by nature, look to recruit excellent future physicians into their workforce, and in fact suffer from a shortage of physicians, this occurring all around the world. This shortage is only getting worse over the years.
Question: What is in the interest of the States?
Answer: The interest of the states can be understood through a survey that we recently conducted among our students. The survey, which was answered by 505 international students, clearly demonstrates that about 70% of international students, who study at excellent universities, are considering, and some have already decided, not to return back home as physicians. Instead, they may look for places that are offering better working conditions and attractive career opportunities.
This ‘brain drain’ is, in my opinion, the strongest motivational tool to encourage students to return back home.
In light of the worsening shortage of physicians across the globe, the States must embrace their citizens, and enable them to integrate into the public health system, even during the early stages of their studies.
Q: As a medical student in Europe, am I obligated to perform clinical rotations in my home country?
Answer: Absolutely not! The right to perform clinical rotations in your home country is granted by certain universities, to certain extents, but the final decision should be done by the students.
Question: Do the clinical rotations back home cost money?
Answer: Yes. In most cases there is a weekly cost (in addition to the tuition fee). Some universities provide a tuition fee discount to students who perform clinical rotations back home and some do not.
Question: Who pays for the clinical rotations back home?
Answer: Usually the students pay directly to the hospitals and not through intermediaries / organizations of any kind.
What are the disadvantages of the program?
Performing the clinical rotations back home involves an additional financial burden, as stated above. In addition, there are additional logistical considerations (apartment, utilities, etc.)
Question: Is there a chance that the ‘clinical rotation back home’ program will be canceled/changed in the future?
Answer: Yes. It is possible that a university will cancel or alter the possibility or number of weeks in which clinical rotations are allowed to be performed back home.
Question: Can every student who chooses to undertake clinical rotations back home do so?
Answer: In most international English-speaking faculties in Europe, this option exists. The duration and content of the rotations, and the number of students allowed to perform the rotations back home may differ between universities. Some universities have no limit on the number of students, while others limit the number of students down to about 20% of their total each year.
Question: In which hospitals are students allowed to perform clinical rotations back home?
Answer: Normally it has to be university affiliated teaching hospitals, that have a cooperation agreement with the university.
Question: What is your personal opinion on the possibility of performing clinical rotations back home?
Answer: As a physician, I acquired my medical education in Europe, I learned that it is much better to perform the clinical rotations in my mother tongue, and my familiar cultural background. In my opinion, this has a direct positive effect on the level of communication with patients.
In addition, as a teacher to thousands of medical students, some of whom are already senior physicians, I believe that exposing the students to the health system in which they wish to specialize in the future, has an important added value.
From the State’s point of view, in my opinion, this allowance is a supreme interest, aimed at preserving the human asset, that is forced to acquire its education overseas, and at the end constitutes a critical medical manpower reserve for the State.
Question: Do you think that the possibility of performing clinical rotations back home should be a consideration when choosing a university for my medical studies?
Answer: In my opinion, yes! Most of our students are accepted to study medicine at more than one university. In my opinion, the possibility of performing clinical rotations back home is a very important factor, supporting their future career, and therefore should be a crucial consideration when choosing a university.