Medical School in Spain

Today’s Medical Education Monday will be highlighting Spain’s medical education system and our guest blogger is Ines, a 19-year-old medical student from Madrid! I’d tell you how awesome her personal blog is, but I can’t read a single word that she’s written. Unlike the incredibly talented multilingual med students & doctors helping me with this series, I am completely lost if we aren’t all speaking Texan English, y’all. However, judging by her fabulously-written explanation of the medical education system in Spain I would be willing to bet that Ines’ blog is a winner – so if you can read Spanish head on over there and tell her hello hola (well, look at that – I can speak Spanish). Ines is currently loving cardiology, while leaving her options open to other things in the future. Keep reading for a superb explanation of Spain’s system of training physicians.

Getting In:
How old is one when they begin medical school?
Normally, people begin when they’re about 18 years old, once they have finished college (equivalent to high school in the US).
What exams does one have to take to get in? Is there any required pre-requisite coursework?

  • Nowadays, it’s really difficult to get into the Medical degree. After having done 2 years of Biological Sciences (Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics) and General Knowledge (such as Grammar, Foreign languages, Literature, Philosophy, History) a Selection Test is required. Once the test is done, you get a final mark that determines if you are accepted into University. You need to get about 9/10 to become a Medical Student.
  • There are public and private universities to study Medicine in Spain. If you didn’t get the mark to go to a public one, you can try with a private one (they are REALLY expensive, so many people can’t afford that option).
  • Depending on the university you want to go to, you’ll need to do a test of Biological Sciences, a test of your level of English and a psychological test.
  • Every test has a mark. All marks are averaged for a final mark and the best marks are accepted to be enrolled.

Is it a competitive occupation?
It’s the most competitive one, to be honest. People study so hard to get in, so hard once they’re in and even harder once they’re out! (Don’t ask your mates for help, they won’t help you!)
What are you called at this stage of training?
Pre-universitario (pre-University student).

Being In:

How long is it?
Six years
How are the years broken down?
3 years of basic sciences + pharmacology, 3 years of clinical training
Describe your typical day.
I can describe it with just one word: STUDYING! I wake up every day at 7am, because I start my lectures at 8am (5/6 hours per day). It is followed by 5-6 hours of studying in the library, before going home (sometimes, to keep studying at night).
If you choose a specialty, when do you have to decide by?
Medical students have 6 years to think about this. It’s normal to change your mind with everything you study! (One day you’d like to be a Neurosurgeon, another one you’d like to be a Pediatrician!!)
What are you called at this stage of training?
Medical Student 

Getting Out:

What exams do you have to take?
MIR test. This test is taken once the Medical Degree is finished and must be completed before doctors can do the residency. Depending on the mark, you can enroll in a specialty in one hospital or another. If you didn’t get the mark you wanted or if you failed, you would be able to repeat it the following year (many years you want to).
Do most people graduate?
I don’t really know the average, but I think lots of people leave the degree before it’s finished (some classmates of mine left it last summer and it was just the first year!)
When are you finally considered a “doctor?”
Once the Medical degree is completed you are called “doctor,” but you cannot work as a doctor until your residency has been completed.
Do you have additional training or do you start working immediately?
You have to do the residency in order to work as a doctor (depending on the specialty, it takes about 2-5 additional years).
What’s the average debt for attendance?
Public universities make you pay money to enroll each course, it’s relatively inexpensive and comes out to about 700€ ($1,000 USD) each year. Private universities are very different. Mine, for instance, charges 18,000€ ($25,732 USD) each year and the rest of private universities are quite similar. Some people can get government money because of their marks or because they can’t manage to pay for the public one, but private universities don’t normally give many loans. (Can anyone else from Spain clarify this? Does that mean if you cannot pay the private school attendance costs on your own you can’t attend?)
What are you called at this stage of training?
Resident doctor or intern

eing Out:
What’s the average salary?
This is a difficult question, it depends on the specialty the doctor did and where he/she works. Normally, doctors work in public hospitals during the morning and in private clinics during the afternoon. Doctors who work that much can earn about 120,000€/year ($171,552 USD).
Is the job security good?
It has always been in this country. Spain needs so many doctors nowadays, that’s why foreign doctors come here to find a job.
Can you go back and choose a different specialty?
Yes, you can do it. You can do the “MIR test” as many times as you want to, even if you passed it and you’re working as a doctor within a specialty.
What are you called at this stage of training?
“Assistant doctor” is generally used and in addition you are called by the name of your specialty, for instance: neurologist, cardiologist, etc.

Past Medical Education Monday Posts: