Medical School in Greece

Today’s Medical Education Monday guest blogger is Zoe, but since we’re all friends around here and her friends call her Jo (@Jo_Med on Twitter), that’s what we’ll stick with as well. Jo is a 21 year old, 4th year medical student at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece! She tells me she hasn’t yet decided on a specialty area, but is interested in Neurology, Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, Immunology and Medical Ethics. When she’s not busy learning the ins-and-outs of medicine, she enjoys reading, playing Sims 3 and studying up on some Bioethics. Keep reading for a peek inside the Medical Education system in Greece, I’m thinking it looks like a beautiful place to learn to be a physician. 

Faculty of Medicine, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece

Getting In:
How old is one when they begin medical school?
You begin medical school right after high school, so at 17-18 years old.
What exams does one have to take to get in?
There are no specific exams, like the MCAT in the USA. All high school students sit some exams at a national level at the end of high school and from those grades it is determined in which school you are going to enroll. You can apply to many different schools (e.g. Medical School, Engineering School and Physics School).
Is there any required pre-requisite coursework?
You must take Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics in high school and sit for the before mentioned exams in these subjects to be able to apply for med school.
Is it a competitive occupation?
Yes it is! You need to get really good grades in order to be able to get into medical school. But the only criterium is your grades, there is no interview or personal statement or CV.
What are you called at this stage of training?
Well, before you get into med school you are just a high school graduate.

Being In:

How long is it?
Medical school in Greece lasts for 6 years.
How are the years broken down?
The first two and a half years are pre-clinical, the next two and a half clinical and the last one is like the intern year in the USA.
Describe your typical day.
Pre-Clinical Years: Some hours of mandatory labs and some nonobligatory lectures. The subjects that are covered include Medical Physics, Medical Informatics, Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Genetics, History of Medicine, Biochemistry, Social Health, Statistics, Hygiene, Histology, Embryology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Pathology, English Medical Terminology.
Clinical Years: Obligatory clinic hours and some optional lectures for each course. We do “rotations” in Surgery, Internal Medicine, Urology, Orthopaedics, Anesthesiology, Neurology, Psychiatry, ENT, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Dermatology, Opthalmology, Pediatrics, Ob/Gyn, Forensics & Toxicology, Neurosurgery, Emergency Medicine, Pediatric Surgery, Radiology. The last five are not actually rotations, just lectures and in some cases also labs.
Sixth Year: We spend our day at the hospital. We do Internal Medicine for 3 months, Surgery for 3 months, Obstetrics&Gynecology for 3 weeks, Pediatrics for 6 weeks, Neurology or Psychiatry for 3 weeks and Primary Care for 4 weeks.
If you choose a specialty, when do you have to decide by?
We have to decide until we graduate. After our graduation we apply for the specialty we want.
What are you called at this stage of training?
Medical Student

Getting Out:

What exams do you have to take?
You just need to have passed the finals in each subject. There are no extra exams, like the USMLE in the USA.
Do most people graduate?
I believe they do. Few people quit medical school. Some of them take long to finish it though. This is a usual phenomenon in all schools in Greece.
When are you finally considered a “doctor?”
When you graduate.
Do you have additional training or do you start working immediately?
You can start working immediately, but you won’t find a job. Almost all medical school graduates choose to specialize in a particular field of medicine.
What’s the average debt for attendance?
Medical School is free in Greece. All medical schools are public, there are no private ones. So, there are no tuition fees.
What are you called at this stage of training?
After you have graduated, you are called a doctor. Once you get accepted into a program you’re a Resident Doctor.

Being Out:

What’s the average salary?
There are no data on this, but it can vary a lot depending on the type of practice, the city, the specialty etc. Considering the economic crisis in Greece, the salary is not really satisfactory.
Is the job security good?
I wouldn’t say so. It is a saturated profession, so it’s difficult to find a job and it’s also hard to run a successful private practice.
Can you switch specialties?
I think you can but you need to start all over again.
What are you called at this stage of training?
When you are done with your residency training you are called a specialist.

Past Medical Education Monday Posts: