Medicine and Global Health

Medicine and Global health in USA

Healthcare is perceived as the most prestigious careers worldwide and the practitioners are revered by all. However, medicine, as a course requires immense dedication and perseverance apart from intellect and aptitude. Students  who are absolutely sure of the career path take up Medicine or healthcare, since it requires committing to study  relevant subjects right from high school. Excellent employment prospects, lucrative salaries, job security are some of the merits of choosing medicine as a career. Given the nature of job opportunities after a medical degree, the coursework includes theoretical as well as practical work. 

The USA factor

USA has world-class institutes of higher learning with progressive education programs with highly qualified faculty members. The research at many of these universities is exceptional and is often published in journals worldwide. The flexibility of choosing electives and the academic options offered to students really sets US education apart. However,getting admitted in these universities is as tough, especially for international students. Medicine is touted as the most difficult course to get admitted into for international students in USA. Studying medicine in USA is extremely challenging in terms of entry requirements, fees and intellectual effort. Most universities in USA would rarely admit a student who hasn’t completed at least one year at USA or Canada. For instance, under the FAQs on the Harvard Medical School website one can find the following:

“My undergrad degree is from an institution outside of the United States and Canada. Can I still apply to HMS?

A limited number of required courses taken outside the U.S. or Canada may be used to fulfill requirements, to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Every effort should be made to take the majority of required courses at an accredited college or university in the U.S. or Canada. In any case, at least one year of full-time academic work in the U.S. or Canada is required. Foreign students who do not have a baccalaureate or advanced degree from an institution in the United States or Canada are rarely offered admission.” While universities in USA provide state-of-the-art facilities and best learning environment, one must strategize entry to a medical school carefully. Degrees awarded and curriculum offered Students may choose a Bachelors of Science degree with relevant electives depending on the field of study they are interested in, i.e. nursing, pharmacy or global health. EducationUSA lists the kinds of degrees that a graduate student may pursue:


“The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree prepares nurses for leadership, advanced clinical practice, specialization, and doctoral study. Areas of specialization include Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Administrator, and Adult Health Nursing, among others. The traditional research Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree prepares nurses for academia or research, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) prepares nurses to advance their knowledge and competencies and attain leadership positions in clinical practice, administration, and research.


“Schools of Pharmacy offering the traditional MS and PhD programs prepare students for teaching and research careers. Areas of study include pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacy care sciences, pharmacology and toxicology, and experimental and clinical pharmacology, among others. Students may also consider intensive joint degree tracks.”

Public Health:

“Graduate programs in public health lead to degrees such as Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), or Doctor of Public Health (DrPH). Coursework focuses on disciplines such as administration, epidemiology, environmental health, biostatistics, health policy, and behavioral health. Some public health programs of study lead to an academic degree for research and teaching careers and  others lead to a professional degree for work in the private, public and non-profit heath sectors. Public health master’s degree programs specialize in areas like biostatistics, environmental health, community health education, global health, epidemiology, and public health administration.”

The right fit

Apart from curriculum offered, students interested in medicine must strongly consider the nature of research at the universities. The innovations being brought about by the students and faculty members of the institute must reflect technological and contemporary – the research and teaching at the university must reinforce. The topics of research and the purpose of developments that the university encourages must tie with the student’s academic and career goals. Residency programs and internships are extremely crucial for students pursuing medicine – the university must  have appropriate opportunities for students to explore.

Application requirements

For becoming a medical practitioner in USA a student must go through the following steps:

Students may complete their Bachelor’s degree in India, but be sure of choosing the required courses for applying to a MD program and be mindful of the one year work in USA (or Canada) requirement that the universities have in USA. Apart from the MCAT, students may have to take the English proficiency exams such as IELTS and TOEFL. GPA requirements for admission in medicine degrees also tend to be high. Recommendation letters from teachers, head of school or professional supervisors must be sought who can comment on the student’s work and academic excellence showcased. United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) test must be completed in three parts during the MD degree to be able to practice medicine in USA. Securing admission in a university for a degree in medicine is difficult for international students; therefore, one must start as early as when in high school to research options available, secure required grades and GPA and take up relevant courses.