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View Full Version : Non-trad in far-flung Eastern Europe: Tryna get insight/advice!



labietis2
12-05-2015, 09:29 AM
Hello!


This is my first thread on ValueMd, so I'm nervous... Please do bear with me!


I'm an American soon-to-be 29 year old living in Riga, Latvia. I decided relatively recently that I'd like to become a doctor, which was a radical 180 from my lifelong aversion to the study of science.


Needless to say, I'd need to do a postbac of some kind, MCAT, etc. I keep ping ponging between looking into that path, and thinking that, odds against IMGs notwithstanding, maybe I ought to stick do a 6-year medical degree in this neck of the woods.


It might make sense to attend Riga Stradins University here in Latvia. My wife is Latvian, and I've been here more than 2 years already, well underway with learning the language(s), etc. Conceivably, by the time I got to the clinical years I'd be proficient enough to communicate with patients etc. The thing is, they hardly ever have Americans in their program, and although it's on the Med Board of CA approved list, I don't think that the English program necessarily is (in fact, it seems none of the well-known Baltic schools' English programs are). I'd love to be able to get a better sense of whether this school makes the grade in any appreciable way. Whether it'd be wiser to capitalize on my foothold over here in E. Europe, and chance it 6 or so years (!) down the line with whatever the then-residency match situation will be, or swim very much upstream and try to go the American postbac route.


I apologize for the longish post! My situation is a bit unusual I suppose, so I'm having a hard time getting much good info or advice and would be very, very grateful to anyone out there who'd care to weigh in!


Greetings,
LVUS

devildoc8404
12-05-2015, 09:47 AM
Time-wise, a 6-year program makes sense. The chances of returning to the US, completing the pre-med sciences, taking the MCAT, applying and getting into a US med school, and graduating all within 6 years are pretty damn slim. You would most likely be looking at 7 years, at least, depending on a number of variables.

However, it really depends on where you want to work as a physician. Riga Stradins English program does not have 50 state approval, as you've already noted. If you are going to go the 6-year route and wish to train/work in the US, it would make good sense to choose a program with 50 state approval -- although that would entail leaving Latvia for one of the CMB English programs in Poland, Czech Republic, or Hungary. If you are a strong applicant with some cash, you could certainly apply to the medical schools in Ireland and the UK, which would probably be your best choice.

Also, you need to be aware that this would guarantee nothing as far as a residency position after graduation. There is a very real chance that you might not match in the US in 6 years, even with citizenship and passing USMLE scores... meaning that you would have to complete residency and work outside the US. If you want to apply in the US but are fine with training/working in the EU after graduation, or are considering training/working in the EU regardless, then Riga Stradins could be a fine option providing an EU medical diploma.

On the good side, of course, you are married to an EU citizen and would therefore be eligible to train/work in the EU. As an American who chose a European (but not EU) residency over going through the US match, I can tell you that there are some great options on this side of the pond for those who are willing/able to work as an ex-pat. It is all up to you and how you see your medical career. Good luck, either way.

labietis2
12-06-2015, 11:15 AM
Thanks very much for the reply devildoc!

I'd love to go UK/Ireland, but I don't believe I'm a strong enough candidate.

You mention that some of the CZ/PL/HU schools have 50-state approval- what would be the way to find out in which states RSU is/isn't approved? Would that mean just going state board by state board, emailing those without exhaustive published lists? Surely not!?

Also, if I may ask, did you set out thinking you'd not attempt to do residency in the U.S.?

I'm all for expatting, and that life, but I'd like to stay as mobile as possible, and wouldn't consider settling in LV for a number of reasons. With your European residency, I assume you had language-proficiency and citizenship issues sorted out ahead of time?

labietis2
12-06-2015, 11:24 AM
Also, just to throw in one more question- if one were specifically interested in generally less-competitive specialties- not primary care, but neurology or psychiatry- do you imagine there's more reason to hope, or are those meant to be as swamped by the near future by one-to-one grad-res inevitability?

devildoc8404
12-06-2015, 12:13 PM
Thanks very much for the reply devildoc!

Not a problem.

I'd love to go UK/Ireland, but I don't believe I'm a strong enough candidate.

Could be worth contacting Atlantic Bridge to see what they say. The flip side of that, of course, is that admission to a US medical school is essentially more competitive than Ireland/UK, so that might make your decision right there -- it would suck to go back and take all the pre-reqs and then not get accepted to medical school at all. (Although DO schools are often more flexible than MD schools in that regard, and a strong upward trend can still work in one's favor.)

You mention that some of the CZ/PL/HU schools have 50-state approval- what would be the way to find out in which states RSU is/isn't approved? Would that mean just going state board by state board, emailing those without exhaustive published lists? Surely not!?

Well, that is precisely what I did. There is no central clearing agency for the state boards in that regard, and the information changes from time to time, so the onus is on the applicant to stay abreast of any changes. Most state boards have that information on their website, but not all (and emailing/calling some state boards is an exercise in futility because the secretaries have no freaking clue).

At any rate, the RSU degree would be accepted in a majority of states, certainly, but California (which has a huge number of residency positions) and any other state using its list would be out. FWIW, that was the case at my medical school (MU-Sofia), and there are two people out of my graduating class of 18 who matched in the US. (Midwest, both in Family Medicine.) Two others are working in Europe (one in Germany -- and she learned German during medical school -- and me in Switzerland). The class behind us had one match in Peds in NY, and another in IM in Ireland.

The other take home message here is that the vast majority from our class did not match and are either not working in medicine, or are continuing to pay tuition for residency training in Bulgaria. Whiiiich sucks, but most of them frankly did not take their medical education very seriously at all. Those who did mostly ended up in residencies, although our top graduate by GPA (an Indian national) did not get a position and as of last year was still out of medicine.

Also, if I may ask, did you set out thinking you'd not attempt to do residency in the U.S.?

The original plan was absolutely to return to the US... at that time, I did not even consider Switzerland an option and I was making all the preparations for the US match. However, when I was offered a residency position in Switzerland and we compared everything (salary, working conditions, immediate start, family situation, etc.) my wife and I opted to stay here. No regrets, at this point, other than the distance from family. (We do seem to get a lot of visits here, though, for some reason.) :)

I'm all for expatting, and that life, but I'd like to stay as mobile as possible, and wouldn't consider settling in LV for a number of reasons.

I know what you mean. We would not consider remaining long term in Bulgaria, either. Love the place (well, we have a love/hate relationship with it), we have some great friends there, and all of that, but... NO. For our family, though, life as ex-pats has been extremely rewarding. We dig living here (in Switzerland).

With your European residency, I assume you had language-proficiency and citizenship issues sorted out ahead of time?

I did have language fluency (German), but I do NOT have CH or EU citizenship. I was just extremely fortunate to be offered a position here without that. Due to a series of events I should have EU citizenship in 2016 (making continuation of our visas more secure), and we hope to naturalize here in CH someday.

if one were specifically interested in generally less-competitive specialties- not primary care, but neurology or psychiatry- do you imagine there's more reason to hope, or are those meant to be as swamped by the near future by one-to-one grad-res inevitability?

Psych is becoming more and more competitive each year (as a lifestyle specialty), and I am honestly not up to speed on the numbers in neuro. I do not think that there is any question that the match will become tougher and tougher for foreign grads in the coming years, and that will extend across the board as the number of US graduates increases. Could you match? I think it is impossible to predict six years out, other than to say that it is very likely to be a lot more competitive than it is right now. However, since you are married to an EU citizen you would still be eligible to train in the EU, and there are some good places for that if you are willing/able to manage the language side of things.

Good luck!







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