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USMLE versus PLAB

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USMLE exams are medical licensing exams that are taken by medical students prior to applying residency training in hospitals in United States while PLAB is need to work in UK based hospitals. Some of the international medical graduates have difficulty in choosing betwen USMLE and PLAB. Though US and UK based hospitals provide excellent training, there are some significant differences. We shall see the issue in a broader perspective.

Which is more prestigious?
US medical degree and residency training is considered as a level above the UK degree by many people. In hospitals in the Middle East, the pay scale for the US educated doctor is above that of UK educated even though they may be doing the same job. This is because of the quality of medical education and the advanced medical research that goes on in the US Hospitals. The political and economic power of the US adds an additional sheen. The value of the degree you get partly depends on the global power of the country in which the institution is located.  Britain was a world power in 1940s. Everyone sailed to Britain to learn and British institutions were considered the best in the world. United Kingdom's global power has waned since then and consequently the degrees it awards do not command the prestige it once had. So if you decide to do your residency training abroad, your first choice should be at United States. But in case it is difficult due to visa or other person specific reasons then you may consider PLAB/MRCP/AMC etc.

Which is easier to get?
It depends on various factors. But again UK is a small country with limited number of hospitals and consequently it cannot guarantee employment to the horde of doctors from its former colonies seeking residency training. On the contrary US is a large and diverse country and has more hospitals. This simple consideration would reveal there would be more residency positions available in US.

Which is expensive?
From an initial consideration USMLE preparation is more expensive than PLAB. But if you analyze all the factors you would understand USMLE is cheaper that PLAB. If you score well, if you have a visa and if you do well in the interviews you would most probably get into a residency and at the end of the three years you are ready for the board exams. But in UK the system is not so simple; it is difficult to get the initial employment. Some people spend a year or two before they get one. You would be spending from your pocket until you secure a proper employment and that would add up your expenses. You may have to move around jobs to complete your requirements for the final examinations.

Visa?
It is easier to get a visa to UK than US. This is more so for doctors from certain countries. So if you think your visa may be rejected, then you need to be careful about spending the huge amount of money and time to prepare for USMLE. There is always a chance your visa may be repeatedly rejected and you would never be able to go to US to take your USMLE step-2CS and attend interviews.

So finally its upto you to decide which is best for you. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages from an individual's perspective. For some; many of their classmates and college seniors may be working in UK and it would be an easier option for them to go there.Some would prefer the structured program available in the US for residency and fellowship training. Discuss with your medical college seniors who are currently working in US and UK and come to a conclusion based on your specific situation. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 November 2010 17:51  

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