When students find it hard to choose a medical specialty

Choosing a medical specialty

One of the most decisive moments for medical students is when they have to choose what to specialize in. Their choice will determine their lifestyle, their living standard and their job satisfaction. One of the disadvantages of the educational system in some countries is that it does not provide these young people with an effective consultation so that they can make a well-informed decision.

Students need to find the best criteria for choosing their medical specialty. An inexperienced young person is likely to make the financial benefits and the prestige of a specialty their main criterion. However, becoming a doctor is a responsible decision which requires a high level of devotion to the working process and to the patients which is hard to achieve unless you really enjoy what you are doing. Being patient towards your patients and feeling compassion for them depends to a large extent on the compatibility of a medical specialist with the type of work they have chosen to do in the long term. Since working in different departments requires different amounts of inpatient and outpatient visits, uncomfortable shifts and emotional stamina, it is of great significance to be honest with yourself and assess your strengths, weaknesses and core values.

Medical education

While the shadowing experiences during the preclinical years are important, they are not the best basis on which you should choose a specialty. You can gain a clearer perspective of medical specialties in your third year at the medical school when you start your clinical practice and every 4-8 weeks you rotate to a new specialty. Take into consideration what kind of people are drawn to the work in a specific department. Talk with as many physicians as possible about the pros and cons of their specialty and what they have learnt about the profession over the years.

Money, flexible working hours and social recognition matter a lot. They are the tangible benefits of particular specialties. And yet, your job satisfaction and health status will depend on how well your job fits your personality. Most people, and especially young people in their early 20s, are not well aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Their self-knowledge hasn’t reached a level high enough to be able to find the best match for themselves based on their system of values. Often they choose a specialty based on what they think others might be impressed by and end up hating going to work.

Maybe you like the idea of being a plastic surgeon because of the high salary and luxurious lifestyle but bear in mind that you need to enjoy working in this field because most of your waking hours you will be spending at work and not on fancy vacations.

Medical students who are not sure what kind of specialty fits their personality may seek the help of consultancies like Forum der Medizin which provide competent career advice and support in finding the most suitable specialization or job in the medical field.

Author: Mariya Dim

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Why Medical Students Benefit from Studying Medicine in English

Medical education

In the era of globalization three things have become the main factors for a fulfilling career – an opportunity to work what you want in a place where you would like to live and build a career and get a payment which is as close to the desired one as possible.

The first most important thing is to choose the profession that is most suitable for you in terms of your inclinations and interests. If you have always felt that helping other people is your internal motivation, then studying medicine looks like a very good field for accomplishing this goal.

The other two conditions for a career satisfaction (finding the right working place and the best possible remuneration package) require mastering English on a proficient level. If you decide to invest some extra efforts in getting medical education in English, you will reap great benefits from this decision.

Firstly, you will get access to the world labor market. The opportunities are infinite. You might choose to devote yourself to a cause which you find truly appealing like working in a medical research centre or be a lecturer in a medical university in country different from your native one.

You might also practice your profession in a foreign hospital that offers a much better payment and working conditions.

The sense that you have a choice raises the level of your motivation for work. In such a case your profession is not just something you make a living with, it is a path for development. You won’t feel as much pressure to secure your working place during a crisis as a specialist who speaks only their native language will feel.

Getting your medical education in English makes it possible for you to follow and take advantage of the innovations in this scientific field. In favor of this argument Dr Ashraf Hatem (Director of Cairo University Hospitals) says:

“Our students have to continue learning science in the [English] language widely used in the world. We would not be able to cope with global scientific advances, including in medicine, without mastering English. China, for example, is interested in sending postgraduates overseas to acquire more scientific knowledge in foreign languages. The research carried by world-famous scientific journals is published in English. The same is true for scientific conferences.”

Last but not least, studying abroad is beneficial for medical students because they gain valuable experience in coping with everyday situations they have never faced before, overcoming cultural prejudices and learning to communicate with people from different backgrounds. Travel really broadens the mind and future doctors can use this experience as a stepping stone to success.

Author: Mariya Dim

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How to finance your education in a foreign country

scholarships for students

A great number of young people give up the idea of studying in a foreign university due to financial concerns. Actually, there are a lot of sources that can provide a student with the necessary finances for completing their university education abroad

Except a bank loan, the candidates for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree who are willing to study medicine abroad can take advantage of the opportunities for getting a student’s scholarship that fully or partly covers the education expenses. It’s important to check the application requirements and submit the necessary documents in time. 

Depending on which country you’ve chosen, you can search for the specific scholarships which foundations and other organizations in this country are offering. 

If you are willing to study in Germany, here are some of the opportunities to receive a grant:


BAföG loan 

Students receive 50 per cent of BAföG aid as a state grant and 50 per cent as an interest-free loan. To receive BAföG support, you must be under a certain age when you begin your programme. For first degree programmes, you should be under the age of 30, and for postgraduate programmes in Medicine, you should be under the age of 35.

Scholarships given by foundations

In most cases the selection of scholarship students is done based on provided evidence of their talents in a certain area and their strong social engagement. Here are some of the foundations in Germany whose application requirements are worth checking:

Friedrich – Ebert-Stiftung – www.fes.de

The foreign students can apply for a scholarship for both Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. Each year the foundation gives 40 scholarships to students in their Bachelor’s degree and 40 scholarships to students in their Master’s degree. The duration of the financial support is 2-3 years and the amount of the scholarship is determined according to the education stage of the student and the duration of the course. It varies between 600 and 100 euros.

Heinrich-Boell Stiftung - www.boell.de

Foreign students can receive a scholarship from this foundation if they have successfully passed the selection process which consists of 2 parts – with documents application and an interview. The scholarship is aimed to cover the expenses during the stay in Germany. 

Scholarship from Forum der Medizin

You can take advantage of the opportunity to receive a scholarship from Forum der Medizin. The requirements include: excellent marks in the university exams and active participation in scientific, research or practice projects. Your average grade from the previous semester has to be at least 5.50 and you have to provide evidence that you have successfully taken all university exams so far. 

You can apply by registering in a website created especially for the project (by visiting Forum der Medizin) and filling in the individual form.

Financial support from the EU funding programs

European Union Erasmus Mundus grants

If you have chosen Belgium, Austria or any other country that is a member of the EU, you can apply for a grant from European Union Erasmus Mundus. For the courses starting in the next academic year 2014/2015, you have to submit the documents during the last quarter of 2013 or in January 2014. 

2013 - StudyPortals Study Abroad Scholarship

This scholarship is open to any student across the globe, in any discipline. The application process is simple and can be carried out fully online. You are normally required to take an English Proficiency Test if you come from a non-English speaking country. Most European Universities recognize the IELTS test. The sum of money you are going to receive if approved is 1000 Euro.

Scholarships for university education in the UK

Chevening Scholarships

The programme provides full or part funding for full-time courses at postgraduate level, normally a one-year Master’s degree, in any subject and at any UK university.

Commonwealth Scholarships

Commonwealth Scholarships are offered for Master’s and PhD study in the UK. Each year, the CSC invites each university to forward a specific number of nominated students. The CSC’s deadline for nominations this year is 17 December 2013.