America is unique in many ways and we never fail to show how different we are compared to the rest of the world.
Whether it’s not using the metric system, short maternity leaves for new moms, or still using capital punishment as a developed nation, we tend to do things differently when compared to our counterparts around the globe.
One thing that the U.S. does differently from countries such as Bangladesh is the medical school admissions process.
Ever since I was five years old, I have always dreamed of becoming a doctor.
My parents and I had different upbringings since they grew up in Bangladesh with the education system over there. When I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine, my parents and I had a few misunderstandings in terms of the process of becoming a doctor here. I soon discovered that along with my parents, many Bangladeshi people were unfamiliar with the system here and that they had a few misconceptions.
The first misconception they had was that a medical school is an option immediately after graduation from high school.
This is a common misunderstanding that people from Bangladesh have because over there if you decide to become a doctor you can declare that during high school and complete science courses and then apply to get into medical school.
Here in the U.S., students have to study for four years in their undergraduate career and then go on to medical school for another four years; making the total amount of schooling equivalent to approximately eight years. This is completely different from Bangladesh where students go directly into medical school after high school.
Another misconception that Bangladeshi people had was that pre-medicine is a college major.
This is not true since pre-medicine is just a track and you have to major in a field that will end up being your Bachelor’s degree. Most people major in the Biological Sciences, but you can major in any subject as long as you take the classes required for the pre-medicine track.
The last difference between the two countries’ processes is that medical school admission is not guaranteed unlike the programs in Bangladesh.
Medical school acceptance rates are very low here and it is much more competitive than it is in Bangladesh. The biggest disadvantage is that applicants must put in four to five years’ worth of work before finding out whether or not they are eligible to get into medical school.
Alongside excellent grades and high MCAT scores, students must also shadow doctors, volunteer at hospitals, have leadership experience, great letters of recommendation, essays, and interviews. They must also engage in many more activities to be a competitive applicant for medical schools. Unfortunately, despite having everything right there is still a very high chance of rejection.
Bangladeshi medical schools don’t take all of these factors into account and so my parents were initially shocked with these requirements.
I cannot explain the countless amount of times my parents and I have had to explain to friends and family members in Bangladesh about the medical school admissions process here and how pre-medicine is not the same thing as studying medicine.
Being well-informed benefits both the students and parents since studying pre-medicine is not a joke.
It is a rigorous curriculum that comes with many requirements. It surely isn’t easy to get into medical schools in either country and it is looked at as a great achievement and honor in both places.