Medical School in Egypt

With all the recent news coverage about Egypt and their revolution it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are people just like you over there still managing to live their day-to-day life, which is exactly why I was so excited to find @RaghdaElkattan on Twitter. Raghda is a 21 year old medical student from Maadi, Cairo and she is in her 5th year of medical study. As I’ve said in the past I am incredibly impressed with the English & writing abilities of the med students and doctors who have helped me with this series, and Raghda is definitely no exception. Now, a quick peek into the Egyptian Medical Education system.

Campus of Kasr Al-Ainy Medical School in Garden City, Cairo. Photo Courtesy of Facebook.

Getting In:

How old is one when they begin medical school?
Students join the medical school or “The Faculty of Medicine” -as we call it in Egypt- right after they are done with high school. The average age for a first year student is 17-18 years.
What exams does one have to take to get in?
The selection process totally depends on the scores of final exams in high school. Since joining the faculty of medicine is highly desired in Egyptian culture, those who get accepted are the top students around the state. Acceptance depends on final exams scores, SATs or International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) system. The exam subjects include physical sciences (like chemistry and physics), biology, mathematics and languages.

Being In:

How long is it?
Six years
How are the years broken down?
Three years of basic science and three years of clinical training. In the first 2 years we study Physiology, Histology, Anatomy and Biochemistry. The third year subjects are Pathology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Parasitology. In the last 3 years we start the clinical section and do rounds in Ophthalmology, ENT, Forensic medicine, Public health, Pediatrics, Gynaecology, General Surgery and Internal Medicine.
Describe your typical day.
In the first 3 years it’s all about lectures, practical classes and exams. In the last 3 years we do rounds in the hospital departments and have theoretical lectures and evaluation end round exams.
If you choose a specialty when do you have to decide by?
Students pick their specialty and apply for residency following their intern year, which would be the 7th year of study. 
What are you called at this stage of training?
Medical Student

Getting Out:

What exams do you have to take?
We have to pass the end year exams every year until the sixth year, then we start an internship year in the college hospital doing clinical rotations in its departments for 2 months each and finally we graduate at the end of that year with a bachelor degree in medicine. We are officially called doctors, GPs “general practitioners,” following this graduation.
Do most people graduate?
I think yes. If you happen to fail something you have to do repeats during Summer vacation or else you will have to spend another year to go through the exam again, but eventually most of students do graduate.
Do you have additional training or do you start working immediately?

The internship year is supposed to help us pick our specialty based on the clinical experiences we have. After this year we apply for a 5 year residency program in the specialty we are interested in – acceptance is dependent on grades during which we are supposed to be studying for the master’s degree in that specialty and on competitiveness of the specialty. I have no Idea about the weekly working hours, but I believe it’s around 14 hours a day besides the night shifts. 
What’s the average debt for attendance?

Medical schools in Egypt belong to the public national education. This means that getting into school depends only on your high school scores and the fees are considered nothing compared to the private medical schools, which are not any better than the national schools. So, there is basically no debt for attending school. I’m not sure about the fees for residency programs, but I don’t think they cost a lot.
What are you called at this stage of training?
Resident Physician

Being Out:

What’s the average salary?
Lots of changes are being carried out following the revolution that took place in Egypt on January 25th of this year. A comprehensive reform in physician salaries is being discussed. There is a suggestion introduced to the government to increase the doctors monthly salaries as follows:

  • Residents: 3000 EG.P ($500 USD) – Currently they make about 1500 EG.P
  • Specialists: 4000 EG.P ($670 USD) – Includes all who have masters degree
  • PhD Holders: 6000 EG.P ($1000 USD) 

This is not yet confirmed, but is probable. Doctors are not highly paid In Egypt, but compared to other governmental jobs they are considered in a high salary rank and they can also have their own private clinics.
Is the job security good?
I don’t think most doctors struggle to find a job, but lots of doctors prefer to find a job out side the country at the beginning since the salary rates are great.
Can you go back and choose a different speciality?
I think you can, but you would have to go through the residency application system again and do another residency if whatever you were switching to.
Other post graduation options: Some doctors prefer to apply for the USMLE exams after they have completed school and then follow the American System. Others apply for Membership of the Royal College and follow the UK System. 

Past Medical Education Monday Posts: