As medical students, we can sometimes be too focused on what is right in front of us: tomorrow’s exam, the MCAT, grueling years of medical school. Sometimes we forget to look at the world around us, which is especially relevant to medicine in a time where technology is rapidly progressing. It is important that we take time to notice other perspectives in order to work together, innovate, and keep up with modern innovation. A person’s country of origin is one factor that shapes perspective. Although medicine has the same goals everywhere, it is a different process in different places. For the medical track in the U.S., students get a bachelor’s degree (not necessarily in a subject related to medicine) while possibly taking courses in preparation for medical school. Then they take the MCAT and apply to medical school. If accepted, they go to medical school for four years and go through rotations and a process to determine which field of medicine they want to go into.
Lebanese surgeon Bassem Elhassan was kind enough to give some insight into medical training and medicine in Lebanon. In Lebanon, there are two types of medical schools. There are either English based schools or French based schools. The English based schools are very similar to those in the U.S., with the same process of bachelor’s degree, MCAT, application, and four years of medical school. The French system is very different. Students get selected into medical school from high school and spend seven years studying medicine. The largest difference between medicine in the two countries might be research. Due to the Lebanese economy, culture, and availability of resources, research (clinical or animal) is very hard to do. We don’t always consider the effect of non-scientific fields on medicine, but social fields especially are integrated into the medical process (for better or worse). An awareness of different perspectives can help us become more thoughtful at a professional level.