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Thread: Thinking of undertaking a MBBS in China? Read here... first

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    globalmedic is offline Member 522 points
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    Thinking of undertaking a MBBS in China? Read here... first


    I'd suggest anyone contemplating attending medical school in China, think very hard about it.

    I've already written a lot of information about undertaking medical training in China in various threads so I won't repeat it all here. However, there are a multitude of factors to consider, from "having" to (read> MUST) learn Mandarin (verbally, reading, writing) if planning to or wanting to graduate from the Chinese ENGLISH taught medical degree. If one plans to try for interning/matching in another country, understand that not all countries medical licensing boards accept a medical degree taught from a foreign medical school (e.g. licensing requirements for the California medical board will not accept the English taught medical degrees from mainland Chinese medical schools/universities [there are other medical boards in the USA who follow California's lead that consequently also do not accept the English taught MBBS from Chinese medical schools numbering about 10]).

    "Warning: Some recognized medical schools that teach in their native language are opening English language medical school programs. The English language programs are not recognized unless specifically stated, e.g., "University of Pecs Faculty Medicine" and "Pecs University Medical School English Program (6-year English Program)." The English language programs must apply for recognition and receive approval from the Medical Board of California for the education received from the English language program to be eligible to qualify an applicant for licensure requirements in California." Quoted from Welcome to the Medical Board of California - Medical Schools Recognized by the Medical Board of California

    Appreciate that not all the English taught medical undergrad programs MBBS in China are or will provide you with the same learning experience as might be the case in ones country of origin, and that the networks that are formed during clinical(s) will not be there if you decide to move elsewhere upon graduation, and furthermore some of the English taught MBBS programs have yet to graduate their first cohort of students.

    Also understand that in the Chinese medical licensing system, one must complete the required undergraduate medical degree, then gain a intern-ship placement for 1 year to get the required prerequisite number of clinical hours and vivas, after which the medical graduate becomes eligible to sit the Chinese medical license exam which is only available in Mandarin Chinese, and pass it to gain registration (medical license to practice medicine in China).

    Medical training taught in mainland China currently (English medium or otherwise) prepares candidates for practising medicine in China, not USA, UK, UAE, KSA, RSA, NZ, AUS or some other foreign country, so therefore don't expect the course to prepare one for USMLE or some other foreign medical system!

    Also understand that there are two different exams, one is a graduation exam that is set by the university/medical school which may or may not also include the mandatory HSK (Chinese langauge proficiency) exam. The graduation exam is often written in English for those taking medicine course in English. If a medical schools final exam does not include the HSK, then this will be tested separately. The HSK exam itself is in Mandarin, naturally. To reiterate, the HSK exam may be held separately to the medical school/universities final exam.

    The other exam is the Chinese medical license exam as outlined in a paragraph above, which requires completion of intern-ship year (e.g. rotations). At the completion of the final rotation of the interning year the medical intern sits the medical licensing exam to gain the medical license to practice medicine (in China of course). This exam is only offered in Mandarin.

    It's important to realise too, that at least one university/medical school make it mandatory that HSK and the final (graduation) exam (not the medical license exam) must be passed to be awarded the medical degree. Failing either of these means the degree is not awarded. Without the degree one cannot move forward with interning etc for obvious reasons. Realistically the chance of passing the final exam but not passing HSK are fairly slim, but hypothetically it's possible. It just means there is an additional component to undertaking a English taught medical degree in China, and that is having to learn Mandarin Chinese. In my mind, studying a medical degree is hard enough without the added pressure of undertaking learning Mandarin which is a complicated language, and not something to be underestimated.

    Once a med student has completed the medical degree (MBBS) one doesn't have to complete the intern-ship year in a hospital in China, meaning the intern-ship can be done somewhere which usually the student will need to arrange him/herself, well in advance of graduation year. Some of the medical schools/universities require completion of the intern-ship year as well before awarding the medical degree, so this in-itself can prove a stumbling block should one hope to intern abroad.

    Successful completion of both the medical degree program and the intern-ship year then make the candidate eligible to sit the medical licensing exam in most countries including China should that be a choice, allowing the junior medical intern to move into the ranks of a junior doctor of medicine and be able to practice medicine.

    1. undertake English medical degree program approved by Chinese MoE/MoH for foreign students (refer to www.*****.edu.cn);
    2. pass HSK at the completion or nearing end of medical degree (MBBS/MD);
    3. successfully pass all required tests as part of the medical degree (MBBS/MD) which may include a final graduation exam;
    4. successfully complete intern-ship year (4 x 3 month rotations) in China or abroad as approved by university/medical school => awarded medical degree e.g. MBBS/MD;
    5. now eligible to sit for medical license to become a registered doctor (beginner) which if done in China is written in Mandarin;
    6. at this point the medical intern becomes a junior doctor (and the real work/learning begins).

    I and others have written and replied to many posts here concerning medical education in Asia and for me, China specifically (as someone having lived and worked in medicine and the healthcare sector both abroad (several years after graduation) and in China (for more than a decade). So please use the sites "search" function, and if YOU decide that a English taught medical degree from a mainland Chinese medical school is for you, that YOU at least contact the relevent medical board of country YOU intend to practise in after graduation or review the information contained in numerous threads here or on *****.edu.cn

    Firstly though, think. Do you want to undertake a MBBS in China (<insert country of choice>) but have plans at graduation to intend or to actually TRY to intern and/or become licensed in a different country? If so check all the relevant medical licensing requirements on both sides! Will the relevant board in the destination country accept the MBBS (or equivalent) awarded from abroad? Contemplate what the medical landscape might be like in 5-6 or more years from now. Many countries are facing major hurdles in being able to provide internship/training places to the increasing number of medical graduates each year which consequently makes it even more difficult for IMG/FMG to find/get accepted into those dwindling placements. Notwithstanding that many medical boards faced with these pressures play politics to alter relevant laws/regulations and rules to protect their own.

    If your plan is to perhaps stay in China, then appreciate the task at hand. Medicine pays low in many ways, has poor recognition, commands little respect in the average Chinese community and society in general, has/faces many questionable ethical and moral dilemmas, and you won't earn much unless you practise with questionable ethics (particularly more so if a surgeon). Medicine unlike in most developed countries does not sit up very high in the social order and this is reflected in the social conscience. At this moment in time, Dr's in China earn very little, recieve little thanks for their efforts, offered little to no respect, and have a tough long road ahead to become a respected and therefore a sought after Dr. Quite the paradox of the developed world order of things.
    Last edited by globalmedic; 04-01-2013 at 05:49 AM.

  2. #2
    devildoc8404's Avatar
    devildoc8404 is offline Ultimate Member 12693 points
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    Well crafted, globalmedic. That's quite a laundry list of considerations.

    Just curious... what are your plans after graduation?

    "When I haven't any
    blue... I use red
    - Pablo Picasso

    BA - Oregon MS - BYU MD - MU-Sofia
    Urology Resident; Clinical Research Fellow

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    JENNAZCL is offline Newbie 510 points
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    such comprehensive and objective !!!

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