Santo Domingo Children's Hospital

Medical School in the Dominican Republic

Medical School in the Dominican

Today I am honored to be continuing our Medical Education Monday series with Medical School in the Dominican Republic. Our Mind On Med guest blogger for today is Vera, a 21 year old medical student in the Dominican. She’s starting her 5th year of medicine and is still wide open on the specialty front, but has a special interest in Neurology. She loves blogging, snail mail, singing and coffee (would we even call her a med student if she didn’t love coffee? I think no, but that’s likely the addiction speaking). And, get this, Vera is a Latin dancer! How cool is that?! We should get her to do a vlog lesson for us. Feel free to contact myself or Vera with questions about Medical School in the Dominican! My additions are in orange.

Santo Domingo Children's Hospital
Children's Hospital in Santo Domingo, photo by RIGHT TO HEALTH.

Getting In:

How old is one when they begin medical school?
A regular student who never repeated courses in high school graduates of at the age of 18. You start pre-med after that – when I started pre-med was one year, but now it’s two, so you enter properly to med school at about 20 or 21 years old.

What exams does one have to take to get in?
We actually just have to take the general exam everyone takes to get into college, it consists of questions on Spanish, Maths, Logics, and English.

Is there any required pre-requisite coursework?
No, there isn’t (just the two years of pre-med course work described above).

Is it a competitive occupation?
No, there is a place for everyone interested; the only requisite is to maintain a scoring upon 2.5/4 while you are in premed in order to get in to the med faculty.

What are you called at this stage of training?
Premed Student.

Being In:

How long is it?
6 years

How are the years broken down?
When I started: One year premed, two years basic sciences and three years of clinical training.
Nowadays: Two years premed, two years basic science and two years of clinical training.

Describe your typical day.
Every semester is different. In the current unit I’m on classes begin at 7:00 am with a 2 hour theorical class. Everyday it’s a different subject, this semester includes Peds and childcare, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Imaging and Clinical Pathology, Family and Community Medicine and Preliminary Research. After that I go to the assigned hospital for that day and take a 2 hour practical class, again the subject is different each day. About 11:00 am we have a two hour break for lunch, I usually get the chance to go home and eat. At 1:00 pm we are back at the classroom and get out by 4:00 pm, which is when our college and hospital hours end and our duties begin. We are now working in our thesis, so we have about two or three meetings a week (an important amount of hours of work) and the rest is dedicated to study. Usually I stay in week nights (like a little kid =P  [nah! like any dedicated medical student, if you ask me :)]), I’ve learn to value my sleep and I know I’ll do it even more in a few months and years. Weekends are pretty diverse, depending on what’s going on.

If you choose a specialty, when do you have to decide by?
You can have an idea of what field you preferred, but it’s after you graduate that you can start a specialty. You have to take an exam and attend to an interview at the hospital when you are planning to get in; if you are accepted you are good to go. At the interview, besides your personality, the interviewers notice the points you have accumulated along your career as doctor (you win points by papers published, hours in hospital work, an internship year for the government, your graduation scoring, being part of the national medical association and, of course, the interview itself).

What are you called at this stage of training?
Medicine Student. In two semesters I’ll be called Medical Intern (middle of 5th year of med school).

Getting Out:

What exams do you have to take?
To be a doctor you don’t need to take any exam, but to opt for a residency spot you must take a national exam, it is based on a 100% and the minimum to pass it is 70%.

Do most people graduate?
Yes, most people certainly do.

When are you finally considered a “ doctor?”
Right after finishing the one year Internship required in med school and then get your diploma, which gives you the title of Doctor in Medicine (so, if I’m interpreting right, that would be about 7 years into your training including pre-med, medicine and intern year).

Do you have additional training after MS or do you start working immediately?
Doctors have to work a year for the government after graduation (another one year internship, now as a doctor and not a medical intern, in whichever hospital they require you to go to)* in order to get their exequatur (a written official recognition and authorization by the government to which one is accredited to work as a doctor in medicine).
*(The further the hospital, the greater the points you get).

What’s the average debt for attendance?
Well, the cost of medicine career here is about 500,000 RD$, that number into dollars must be around $13,158 USD.

What are you called at this stage of training?

Being Out:

What’s the average salary?
The average salary of a resident is about 34,000 RD$ ($790 USD) per month.

Is the job security good?
Jobs have a great availability in our country, the opportunities are better for doctors who work in private clinics or hospitals, although private offices are kind of expensive. Doctors who want to work at a private level have to have the resources or help themselves by loans, which actually pay off when they get established and start working. Not everyone finds opportunities, though.

Can you switch specialties?
Yes you can, but only if it’s related to the field your currently on.

What are you called at this stage of training?
It depends on the years that the specialty you’ve chosen lasts. The word “Resident” adds an R to the name and later the year you are currently on. Ex.: R1, to the residents that are on their 1st year. R2, R3… you guys get the point =P. (This is quite similar to US residency training where we are called “physicians” or “doctors” during our residency training years and PGY1, PGY2, PGY3, etc. to denote our year of residency training. Although, in the US your intern year is equivalent to PGY1). 

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