US MD or Mexico

Hi Everyone,

I am new to this forum. I am a 36 year old woman who has been doing anti violence organizing for the past 15 yrs. I decided a year and a half ago to go to medical school. I took my re req’s over 10 years ago, but I repeated some of them for the MCATs. I take the MCATs over in July 2008. I didnt score very well last August partially because my pre req’s were from a long time ago. Anyway, I will also apply this year…

However, Im seriously considering just going to medical school abroad. Many people I know have gotten residencies from medical schools outside the US and I just want to do FP or IM… I feel like I would like to get the ball rolling and just go…instead of wait and maybe get in.I want kids and my husband is great but we are living off of a teachers salary…Should I be more patient?

Any advice?

If abroad you mean Guadalajara then that’s a personal choice. If you know without a doubt in your mind you want FP or IM then I don’t see too much of a problem if all goes well. If things don’t go well then that is where it gets “interesting”. Good friend of mine failed Step 2 three times and lost his residency. He retook and has another residency. In his Step 2 review class he met 4 FMG/IMG’s who had also failed their step exam. They passed them before my friend and still have not found a residency.

While the “stigma” of being a FMG/IMG is not that big a deal it becomes a huuuuuuuge deal if you don’t do well on all your med school courses and step exams. These non-US schools are seen as 2nd chance but you can’t have anymore problems after them. Even the slightest issue is because of where you studied.

So since you had a slight problem with the MCAT you really need to know if it’s because you took the courses so long ago or something else. Thinking about it I will change my initial opinion and I would recommend that you not go the non-US route unless you have to. It should really be a last resort and not a short cut.

In your post, you are short-changing yourself before you even start:

you’re considering “just” going to medical school abroad, and you “just” want to do FP or IM.

And you’re concerned about money.

First of all, going to a school abroad will often not be cheaper in any way than going to a school here, and may leave you with considerably more debt. You need to get more specific about the financial equation here; I suspect that when you do you’re going to see it differently if you think long-term. The risk that Croooz mentions of not getting a residency is not the least of this: if you are scraping by financially and then can’t practice medicine in the US, but have a lot of debt, you are in an almost impossible position.

Second there is no “just” in general internal medicine or family practice. Yes, it is easier these days to get residencies in family practice than it used to be (IM was more competitive this year, at least in my part of the world, not sure of overall stats yet; and med schools in the US are talking about expanding the # of available slots for students, thereby reducing the # of residency slots), but general primary care medicine is HARD and it requires a lot of knowledge and training and confidence. (And if having a lot of technical expertise isn’t important to you, which is a key feature of being a doctor, you should consider NP or PA which would be a path of less resistance and better financial outcomes.) If you’ve gone into your training–in the US or abroad–with a feeling that you’re “just” going to do primary care you are selling yourself short and more importantly you are selling your patients short.

If I was going to do a foreign school I’d probably have chosen Guadalajara as well–it’s got a lot going for it, including that you’ll be bilingual by the time you’re done if you’re not already. But your medical training doesn’t stop at med school. You’ve already shown that you have a hard time with one set of standardized tests, which will predict that you’ll do worse than average on Step 1 and Step 2. This will make choosing a residency even more difficult if you’re coming from outside the US (but not nearly as much if you’re not, for a whole bunch of reasons), and thus increase the likelihood that you’ll end up in a residency in the middle of nowhere, with careless and inexpert teaching, and where you are being used as cheap labor with little effort to train you to be the great doctor you need to be and that your patients deserve. (There are a lot of real reasons that some residency programs don’t fill their slots; it’s not entirely random.)

Most importantly this entire chain of faulty assumptions–you “just” go abroad because you “just” want to go into primary care–begins with the biggest one of all: that you can’t improve your MCAT score and that you can’t get into a US school.

You must believe that you can defeat this beast before you will be able to.

You doubtlessly have a very interesting story, and as one community organizer to another let me tell you that you shouldn’t sell yourself short anymore than you’d let the people you’re organizing sell themselves short. You should aim to go to exactly the school would be the best for you, the most exciting and most excellent and most nourishing. Make your compromises at the end of the application process, not before you’ve even truly started.


You really do not know what will peak your interest during medical school. Most folks change their minds during training so assume nothing. Go to the place that will make this path somewhat easier (matching wise) for the process is hard enough as it is. I would retake the MCAT when you are 200% ready and plan on doing well. Apply to many schools in the US (number wise, ranking wise, and geographical wise). If you do not get in then and only then would I consider abroad.