(Original post by shinwave)
I am currently a student studying medicine in Milan, Italy, and am writing this to help any prospective students in their decision-making process! I will be talking a lot more subjectively on this topic, my personal decision-making process, and some general info with regards to my experience thus far.
The program I am enrolled on is the Medicine and surgery (medicina e chirurgia) program in English. It is a program run by the University of Milan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Milan
) and is called the International Medical School (IMS), with everything being based at istituto clinico Humanitas.
Why I chose this course
The course is a 6 year degree in medicine, and all lectures are in English. I am currently a first year, with no previous knowledge of Italian.
Having researched the University itself, I found that the University of Milan has an international reputation - something important in my eyes when considering the future - It is considered one of the best in Italy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Milan
). The degree is recognised in the UK (http://www.gmc-uk.org/doctors/regist...ence_italy.asp
), and so I thought "Why not; the exam entrance fee is cheap, course is in English and is in Milan, Italy, rather than somewhere possibly more obscure - works to my advantage when applying internationally after graduating. What, tuition fees are no more than 4000 euros a year?!"
On the course, the lecturers are excellent (I have previously studied at Bristol and Nottingham - I graduated with an Msc in Immunology) in comparison with other top universities. The class sizes are small (50 in our year), and very international - we have about 15 Italians, 10 Israelis and 10 Brits, with others coming from Lebanon, Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, Sweden - you get the idea. The small class definitely
helps in terms of student-professor rapport; we really get to know each other. This is almost unique in terms of the professor getting to know each student (Does not happen in the UK).
Literally today, one of our coursemates went and watched a surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm: again, does not happen in the UK. However, with Italy being a catholic country, dissections are illegal. Instead, as first year students, we already have our white coats, are shadowing doctors and sitting in at consultations (yes, knowing Italian is a benefit). Students have the option to go visit the ER over the weekends. All in all, it is very exciting (albeit the majority of our time is spent in lectures or studying in the library).
The course is moulded around other international models (e.g. Stanford etc etc), and I really do get the feeling that they have made an effort rather than just port over the Italian system and Googletranslate everything (I have heard other courses in English are doing this...). The lecturers are excellent, the material is theoretically challenging (as you would expect any decent medical school to be), proper patient interaction starts in the THIRD year, and the facility is amazing.
Lunches are subsidised (3 euros for a really good meal), we all have our own lockers, the teaching staff for our PBLs are all very experienced physicians, everything is pristine clean, and there seems to be one or two international conventions happening every week, and as students we are welcome to view them. State of the art equipment (e.g. really powerful PET scans), and the concept that if you contact the doctors beforehand, they will be more than happy to accommodate for one extra student on their rounds - some of the benefits of being a medical student here.
The hospital itself - Istituto clinico Humanitas (ICH) - is one of the best in Italy. It is a private hospital, with the capability to accommodate for patients on the national health service. With that being said, it has some of the best doctors and facilities around. I have been told that there is a 2:1 ratio of student to physician tutors (paid to be tutors). All the doctors I have met thus far have been more than supportive (a la coursemate today, who was asked whether he wanted to sit in on the aortic aneurysm surgery).
I have so far met intern residents from the US and the Netherlands, who have been saying the facilities here (e.g. nuclear medicine department, where he is an intern) are truly state-of-the-art, and that was an important factor in them coming here.
Our classes are held in one classroom, with our professors coming to us. Since we are so few, you really get to meet everybody intimately. Our class has already been on skiing trips together, visited Nice over the weekends, and even invited friends over for Christmas/New years/Easter back to the UK!
On top of all this, we frequently go out together to the very cosmopolitan city that is Milano; sushi all-you-can-eat-buffets, coffee and drinks at any number of bars, karaoke, football, and apertivos!
The entrance exam
This is what happened last year.
I took the IMAT test (BMAT equivalent) in September having signed up, and waited two weeks for the results to be published online. There were 100 people taking the exam in London, and a further 500 Odd taking it in Milan, for 30 Eu places and 20 non-eu places.
NB they advertise a minimum mark of 20; this is NOT what you should be aiming for. This was only the second year, and the competition for places in the eu category was much harder than for the non-eu.
After the results are published online and you place within the top 30, ZOOM you should pack and get out to Milan asap and start looking for an apartment - Last year the entrance exam was on the 9th of September, results were published on the 1xth, and we had to be here for registration by the 23rd or so. It happens very quickly, and they expect you to pay the first instalment at an Italian branch of Intesa Sanpaolo (I made the mistake of going to the Intesa Sanpaolo branch in London but they dont deal with private payments). First date of term was the following monday (26th I believe).
NB - the application procedure is not easy takes time - start well in advance of the application deadline, but in the worst case scenario, contact the medical school as shown on www.mimed.it
: Environment (small classes, excellent teaching staff, facilities), early clinical experience (tasters in the first 2 years followed by proper patient contact in the third year), course taught in English (but must learn Italian), top university in Italy, top hospital in Italy, and cheaper tuition than UK. Food is great in general!
: Having to learn Italian within 2 years (I intend to study over the summer holidays), no dissections, had a really tough time getting all the paperwork together (Italian consulate blew 2 separate confirmed appointments with me, then lost my paperwork...)
With this being a new course, sometimes things dont go as smoothly as you would like, but having chatted with the year above, things are definitely improving. I assume it will get even better in years to come (Means some of this information may be outdated soon)
Possible pros or cons
(depends on how you look at it): the hospital is not actually in the city of Milan; rather it is several kilometres to the south. However, there is a shuttlebus that runs every 20 minutes from morning till 8pm every day to Milan, and it takes about 15 minutes.
The lecture timetable is not as intense as in the UK. Its not 9-5 everyday, but with more time allocated to "self-study". We have on average 4-5 hours a day of lectures (just quick-maths involved here), which may be less intense than in the UK, but the students then go off to study at their own pace by themselves.
I hope this helps - I myself was daunted last year when faced with the prospect of this mysterious course. I would strongly recommend people to come and investigate (as some people have already done) -it's only Milan and costs under a hundred pounds to come and investigate for yourself!