Welcome to the first installment of #InternationalMedicine! Here we look at what studying medicine in other countries is like, and whether or not studying abroad will be cheaper or take less time, or even be more interesting somewhere else. Today we start in a place that is very dear to me- my homeland, JAMAICA!
1. Introduce yourself! SA: Hello! My name is Shawn Allen. I’m 27 years old from Jamaica, and I study at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
2. Why do you want to be a doctor? SA: I can’t recall the age at which I started to dream about becoming a doctor, but I know it was at a young age. I always saw doctors as a set of people who work daily to save lives and that’s what I wanted to do.
3. Why did you choose this country? SA: It was much simpler for me to study in Jamaica. I’ve never been outside Jamaica and all my support is here.
4. How do you apply for school there? SA: The application process is online. From November to March each year, prospective students can apply online to a programme of their choice once they’ve met the prerequisites. They’ll be informed of the necessary documents to take in during the process. When all that is completed, then they’d wait for a response from the university as to whether their application was approved or not.
5. What does medical school entail there? SA: UWI Mona medical school is 5 years, after which we complete a year of internship. At that point, a doctor can choose to become a general practitioner and set up their own practice or apply to be a senior house officer (SHO). The SHO period usually lasts for a year, although recommendations were made for it to be 2 years. After this period, a doctor can choose to remain a medical officer or apply for a residency program in a specialty of their choosing. The duration depends on the specialty.
6. What does a normal day look like? SA: Well, this depends on where you are in the program. Our program is divided into pre-clinical and clinical phases. Pre-clinical is the first 2.5 years and mostly entails indoor classes and the anatomy lab. You have a lot more leisure time during this phase. After going to classes and then going to the library to read, you still have enough hours for social activities. In the clinical phase, most of your time will be spent in the hospital getting accustomed to patient care and the hospital setting. Where you are in the hospital will depend on the course you’re doing at the time, for e.g., those on anaesthesiology will be in the operating theatre learning almost everyday. During this phase we have school for 50/52 weeks during the year (we get a 2 week break for christmas). That means we don’t have much time for social activities and much of our time will be spent or is expected to be spent reading and sharpening our clinical knowledge and skills. During this time, a day for me would be getting to school for 8am and leaving around 4pm. This is of course highly variable depending on which course I’m doing. Of course I’d find some time during the day to eat lunch but it’s prudent to eat a substantial breakfast as things don’t always go as planned. I’d go to the library in the evenings sometimes to read. A lot has changed since COVID-19 and our learning is now online. So nowadays we’re online from 8am-5pm most days, it’s pretty regular school except from home.
7. What do you do to destress? SA: Sometimes my close friends and I would go out, usually at the end of a semester. We’d go to a restaurant or karaoke, or hiking. I like to watch movies or anime. There are times, I’m either playing a FIFA video game or outdoors playing football in my community. But most times it’s de-stressing simply to be away from everyone and everything that reminds me of school, so I like to spend time alone, reading non-medical stuff or simply go on a nature walk.
8. What are your future plans? SA: I want to become a family physician. I believe primary health care is key to a healthy society.
Big thanks to Shawn for Showing us what Med school in Jamaica is like! Would you study in Ja? Let us know in the comments!