In 2010, I received my acceptance letter to start Graduate Entry Medicine at University College Cork. Having applied only on the advice of a family friend, I knew nothing about Ireland and was anxious to start my medical education so far from home. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Over my four years in Ireland, I attained my medical degree and had amazing experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Like many North American programs, the four-year program at UCC comprises two years of basic medical sciences and two years of clerkship. However, UCC really stresses early clinical exposure and part of the second year is devoted to hospital experience where medical students get to practice their history taking and physical examinations skill early on. Furthermore, the students at UCC are sent all over County Cork. As such, there are great opportunities to see various parts of Ireland and practice rural medicine. The education that students at UCC receive is certainly on par with those in North America.
However, that is not enough to help IMGs come back to Canada. Arranging multiple electives in Canada, I was fortunate to be able to appreciate the differences between the Irish and Canadian health care systems and education. Summers were always devoted to either studying for exams or arranging electives in Canada.
Despite the busy schedule, there was always time to enjoy Cork. It is a proper city without the bustle of a large metropolis. A stroll to the market in town or a nice walk along the river was a nice way to relax and slow things down. If I had to say what made my experience so great, it was definitely the Irish. They are exceptionally friendly and welcoming. Never have I felt so at home in a foreign place. I soon found myself attending hurling matches, visiting the local pubs, and going on a tour of the Ring of Kerry.
Four years later, I am ecstatic to have attained a Family Medicine residency position at Western University in Ontario. Knowing that UCC has provided me with an excellent education, I can confidently look forward to starting my residency. I have had incredible experiences touring around Ireland and have made lifelong friendships. This was certainly an experience that has changed me for the better and I would hope that others could make the most out of the opportunity as well.