Study Medicine in Italy: 6 Things You Should Know

Italy is famous for its historic tourist destinations. Lately, it has become a prime choice for students in search of international education. This is especially the case for aspiring physicians who may be taken aback by expensive medical school tuition fees. In this article, we will be looking at studying medicine in Italy.

Italian medical education is cheaper compared to the rest of the EU, especially if you get admitted to a public university. There is no need to learn much Italian as well (though this will help during the internship phase) as there are schools that offer English medical curriculums.

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1. What are the requirements to study in Italian medical schools?

The basic requirement for study medicine in Italy is a secondary school diploma or certified equivalent. At the University of Padua, a minimum 12-year school record is needed. If this is not met, the applicant must take one or two-year preparatory/foundation courses.

Foreign applicants also need to pass an International Medical Admissions Test (IMAT), which is conducted by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, and the Cambridge Assessment Admissions Training. This test, which is accepted by 13 medical schools, have different grade requirements due to the availability of slots for foreign students.

The IMAT is the counterpart of the medical school admission test given to Italians by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research. Its format is the same, with the 60-item exam covering 5 subjects, namely chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and logic. This test can be taken in 20 countries for a price of 120 Euros.

Grade requirements vary according to university because of its number of slots. Failure to meet the IMAT minimum will necessitate the need for additional learning requirements, which should be completed during the first year of study.

Apart from a diploma and good IMAT grades, the applicant also needs to have English proficiency of at least B2.

While learning Italian is not required, applicants must reach a B1 level for Italian proficiency. This is the case in most schools, such as the University of Messina. Italian language lessons can be done during the first year of studies at Messina. This is to ensure productive learning during the internship phase, as some hospital staff members and patients are unable to speak English.

2. How difficult are the Italian medical schools?

The difficulty begins with entering a medical program. This is due to the numerus clausus, wherein the annual number of applicants for high-demand courses such as Medicine is limited. For example, there are only 38 slots available for non-EU students at Uni Camillus. At the University of Milan International Medical School, the slots are lower at 16. While there are more slots for EU residents, more applicants are vying out for these opportunities as well.

While studying medicine in Italy is just as hard as in other countries, some schools allow their students to repeat some classes in a maximum of 6 years.

3. In what language do you study medicine in Italy?

The medical curriculum is taught in both Italian and English. International students can enroll in 13 public universities or 4 private schools that use English as the medium of instruction.

4. Can you enroll in Italian medical schools as an international student?

Yes. Many public and private medical schools accept foreign applicants. However, the number of available slots for non-EU students is lower than that of EU applicants. At the University of Milan International Medical School, for example, there are only 16 slots for non-EU students compared to 44 for EU residents.

5. What are the components of the medical curriculum in Italy?

The Italian medical curriculum is a single-cycle, 360-ECTS degree that runs for 6 years or 12 semesters.

The first three years of the study of medicine in Italy cover the ‘Biological’ subjects. At the University of Bari Aldo Moro for example, this first half includes lessons in Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Histology, Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology, Physiology, and Laboratory Medicine, to name a few.

The second half of the degree, on the other hand, covers Clinical Science subjects. Internship or internalo usually starts in the fifth or sixth year of study. At the University of Padova, this is culminated with the application of knowledge by examining clinical cases.

In most schools, there are about 6 examinations that run through the entire degree. Apart from these tests, students need to undergo rotations and electives as well.

Enrollees also have to complete a thesis and present this to a board of professors. After this, the student is granted a Doctor of Medicine degree or “Dottore Magistrale” in Italian.

6. What do you need to become a doctor in Italy after studying?

After studying medicine in Italy to obtain the MD degree, the aspiring physician needs to undergo an unpaid 3-month post-degree placement (Tiricinio post-laurea). This includes a 2-month medical and surgical rotation in a university hospital, as well as a 1-month general practitioner shadow internship.

Once this 3-month rotation is completed, the student can take the state exam (esami di stato) to obtain a license to practice Medicine. With this, the doctor can practice without supervision. He/she, however, needs to register at the Order of Physicians where he/she intends to practice.

Newly-licensed doctors can opt to specialize. One option is the General Practitioner track, which involves a 3-year course that includes rotations in non-university hospitals. Another is a Scuola di Specializzazione, which is a 4/5-year course run by university hospitals. After finishing any of these specializations, the doctor must take another board exam (administered by a governing body) to be certified.


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