Atlantic Bridge Program: The Ultimate Guide in September 2020

Updated: September 14, 2020

If you’re considering studying medicine outside of North America, the Atlantic Bridge program may be for you. In this blog, you will learn everything you need to know about studying medicine in Ireland by applying to the Atlantic Bridge program.

Here’s What I’ll Cover:

What is the Atlantic Bridge Program?

Application Procedure and Components

Eligibility Requirements

Irish Medical Curricula

Tuition and Financial Aid

Residency Options in North America

Moving to Ireland

Final Reflections

FAQs

What is the Atlantic Bridge Program?

The Atlantic Bridge Program provides opportunities for students from North America and other parts of the world to attend medical, dental, physiotherapy, and pharmacy programs in Ireland. Applicants can apply to the participating schools using one common application and one set of supporting documents. The participating schools are:

Trinity College Dublin (TCD)
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)
University College Dublin (UCD)
University College Cork (UCC)
National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)
University of Limerick (UL)
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain (RCSI-MUB)

Upon completion of medical school, you will be awarded with the Irish equivalent of an MD degree. Some programs grant a total of three degrees: Medicine (MB), Surgery (BCh), and Obstetrics (BAO), while others award a total of two degrees: Medicine (BM) and Surgery (BS). For many North American students, the Atlantic Bridge program provides an opportunity to pursue their career aspirations after facing medical school rejection from US and Canadian programs. Irish medical schools have a great reputation and curriculum similar to the curricula at North American schools. Keep in mind that you will be considered as an International Medical Graduate (IMG) for the residency match in the United States and Canada. This status will not prevent you from becoming eligible for the residency match in North America, but it will certainly limit your options compared to students who completed their degree in these countries.

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Application Procedure and Components

Application Request Form

To apply to the Atlantic Bridge medical program, you must fill out the Application Request Form. Along with personal details, you will need to provide information about your academic background and choose which of the member schools you would like to attend; you can choose all 7 if you wish. You will be contacted by the program within 1 or 2 business days regarding eligibility, application instructions, admissions requirements, deadlines, and other guidelines.

Application Fee

Once you get the green light to apply to your programs of choice, you will need to pay the necessary application fees. If you are applying to medicine and dentistry programs, you are required to pay a non-refundable application fee of US$75 per school if the application fee is received by November 15th in the year you are applying. Applications that are paid after November 15th will receive late application fee penalties: instead of paying $75 per school, you will be paying $100. Physiotherapy and pharmacy programs require a non-refundable fee of US$50 per school.

Application Components

Transcripts. Both hard and electronic copies of your transcripts are accepted. Official hard copy transcripts should be sent directly from your school to the mailing address of the Atlantic Bridge program. You are allowed to send your own transcripts only if they were sealed in an envelope by your school. Electronic transcripts may be sent via your school’s electronic transcript forwarding service, or a private transcript forwarding service (e.g. Parchment, eScrip-safe, National Student Clearinghouse, etc.) to the Atlantic Bridge admissions email (see FAQs below). You cannot email the transcripts from a personal email.

Letters of Recommendation. You are required to provide two recommendation letters or one committee letter. One of your letters should be written by an academic professor, lecturer, teacher, or academic advisor. The other letter should be written by a work or volunteer supervisor, principal investigator of your research projects, or another individual who can speak to your professional qualities and achievements. When writing your letter, referees should not be addressing or referencing any specific Atlantic Bridge school because your application is not school-specific. Your medical school recommendation letters should be addressed to "The Admissions Committee". Your recommendations must be submitted directly to the Atlantic Bridge by your recommenders, your school's letter-forwarding service, or Interfolio. Make sure to let your referees know that letters should be submitted on letterhead with their contact information and signature at the bottom of the document, and it should be saved as a PDF attachment. Remember, if you are applying to physiotherapy, you need to submit three recommendation letters. Details about your recommendation requirements will be provided after you submit your Application Request Form.

Personal Statement. In your personal statement, you will need to answer this essay prompt: "Why would I be an asset to the medical school and the medical profession." For other programs, substitute "medical" with dental, physiotherapy, or pharmacy. The personal statement should be no more than two pages in length and double-spaced. There are no font or margin specifications. Not unlike your AMCAS personal statement, the Atlantic Bridge personal essay should not mention specific school names if you are applying to more than one school. Your personal statement should be submitted to the admissions email of the Atlantic Bridge program.

Before you sit down to write your personal statement, it's a good idea to look over successful medical school personal statement examples. If you're applying to dental school, don't forget to read some dental school personal statement examples. Reflect on what kind of important experiences you would like to include in your own essay. When you brainstorm, think about this: your medical school personal statement must answer why you want to be a doctor (or a dentist, physiotherapist, or pharmacist) and it must stand out among hundreds of letters that will answer the same question. The body of your personal statement should be structured around 2 or 3 experiences that demonstrate the reasons why you decided to pursue medicine. Remember, your personal statement is not your CV, so don’t simply list your qualities and accomplishments. A personal essay is a genuine reflection on why you decided to become a physician. Building your statement around 2 or 3 concrete experiences shows the admissions committee the steps that led you to apply to the Atlantic Bridge program. Identify how these experiences helped you develop important skill sets that can help you in the future as a medical professional. You should elaborate on what discoveries you made about yourself and the medical profession from being involved in the experiences you include in your personal statement. Remember, never underestimate the importance of a strong introduction and first sentence. You must captivate your reader and encourage interest in your candidacy. Your conclusion can include a brief statement about your future goals and aspirations. Perhaps you want to elaborate on why you chose the Atlantic Bridge program and what you are hoping to gain from studying medicine in Ireland.

CV. Your CV should demonstrate your experiences and achievements in the medical field that make you a perfect candidate for the participating medical schools. Make sure to limit your CV to two pages and choose quality over quantity. To get some ideas on what to include, you can research programs’ websites to see what kind of qualities, experiences, and extracurriculars the participating schools prefer in their applicants. Your Atlantic Bridge CV allows you to give an extensive list of your academic potential and background, your experiences and exposure in the medical field, and your relevant extracurriculars for medical school – you will not have another chance to show off your accomplishments because there is no application section like the AMCAS Work and Activities section, so use this opportunity to showcase your achievements.

Additional Documents. You may be required to submit additional documents depending on the discipline and your eligibility for the program. These may include MCAT score report, advance placement or international baccalaureate results, high school diploma, or courses in progress. Information on additional documents will be included in the email you receive after you submit your Application Request Form.

Beware that your application will not be considered by the schools’ admissions committees until all the required documents have been received.

GPA Requirement

Irish medical schools do not have specific GPA guidelines or cut-offs, except for Trinity College and University College Dublin which have a 3.3 and 3.08 GPA cut-offs respectively. The admissions committees will focus on the difficulty of your degree and coursework, rather than your GPA. This is done to consider the many variables of the students' applications. Having a high GPA is not the only indicator of applicant suitability for medical school. The admissions committees will also consider your coursework, academic progress evident from your transcript, and your dedication to the medical field demonstrated in your CV. Just like American and Canadian medical schools, Irish schools consider each application individually and evaluate the student's success based on the entire application.

Food for thought: although many of these colleges may not have GPA requirements, remember that you are competing with hundreds of other applicants so you want to ensure your GPA is competitive. If you are serious about being a competitive candidate, your application, including coursework and overall average, should be of high caliber. If you’re worried about your GPA, there are some strategies you can implement to improve it. Try re-taking the courses you performed poorly in or take classes in disciplines you know you can ace. Your university campus might have free study groups and tutorials to help you improve in challenging disciplines. Find a study-buddy who will motivate you to study. You can try hiring a tutor if you’re struggling with any of your coursework. This may be especially important for improving your grades in medical school prerequisites. Generally, Irish medical schools want to see applicants with some academic background in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Specific prerequisites will be outlined in the email the Atlantic Bridge program will send your after you submit the Application Request Form.

MCAT

Irish medical school programs range from four to six years in length. The MCAT is a requirement for the four-year programs in Irish medical schools but not for the other two (five- and six- year programs). You might be planning to write the MCAT for the four-year program, as well as your Canadian and AMCAS applications, and your DO school application. Although the MCAT is a requirement for applicants to the four-year program only, you can take the examination and submit your scores to the Atlantic Bridge program if you want. When you fill out your Application Request Form, you can indicate whether you have taken the MCAT or whether you plan to take it. If you are planning to write the MCAT exam, you should know what is a good MCAT score and when to start studying for the MCAT. Give yourself ample time to prepare for the test and use an MCAT CARS practice passage and other materials to get ready. If you’re wondering “When should I take the MCAT?”, take a look at our blog to get some answers. If you want to avoid taking the MCAT altogether, look at a list of medical schools that don’t require MCAT.

Prefer to watch a video instead? Have a look at our video below:

Eligibility Requirements

Your eligibility for each program will depend on your educational background. You will receive more information on your eligibility for each of these three programs after you submit your Application Request Form.

Six Years

This medical program is designed to admit students graduating from high school with prerequisites in biology, chemistry, and either physics or mathematics. You can be eligible for this program if you attend college or university but will not have an undergraduate degree by the September entry. If this is your situation, you may also be eligible for the five-year program. Once you submit your Application Request Form, the admissions committee will be able to determine which program you are best suited for. The following universities offer the six-year program:

• University College Dublin

• National University of Ireland, Galway

• The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

• The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain

Five Years

This program admits high school students who have specific advanced placement (AP) or international baccalaureate (IP) courses. If you’re a high school applicant, you must have specific scores in the IB examinations, including chemistry at Higher Level, or the AP examinations in biology, chemistry, and either physics or calculus. You may be eligible to apply to this program if you have completed one or more years of college or university. Participating colleges include:

• The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

• University College Cork

• University College Dublin

• Trinity College Dublin (requires its applicants to undertake all six IB examinations in one examination session)

• National University of Ireland, Galway

• The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain

Four Years: Graduate Entry Medicine Program (GEM)

To be eligible for this program, you must have an undergraduate degree and submit your MCAT scores. At the latest, you must write the MCAT before May 1st of the year of application. Your undergraduate degree must be granted before September entry. For your reference, the minimum MCAT score requirement at the University College Dublin is 503. Your test must be written within three years of the date of entry for both University College Dublin and The University of Limerick. Four-year programs are offered at:

• University College Cork

• University College Dublin

• The University of Limerick

• The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

If you have completed your undergraduate degree but want to avoid taking the MCAT, try to find out if you’re eligible to apply to the five-year program instead – the MCAT may not be a requirement for you then. Your choices are:

• Trinity College Dublin

• National University of Ireland, Galway

• The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain

Irish Medical Curricula

Just like medical schools in Canada and America, Irish med programs are split into two phases: pre-clerkship and clerkship years. Coursework may vary among schools, but all the essential preclinical and clinical subjects are covered by all programs. Pre-clerkship education is done through a combination of lectures, problem-based learning, evidence-based medicine and small-group seminars, tutorials, practicums, labs, and computer-aided learning. Patient interaction is integrated into the early stages of training. During the clerkship years, you will work in the university’s teaching hospitals. The Irish clinical training system focuses on a case-by-case examination of the patients at their bedside. Additionally, as an American or Canadian applicant, you might want to look into taking electives in Canada and the US if you want to increase your chances of matching a residency there.

Research projects are available for students during the summer months. These can be carried out in several academic departments. Grants are available from the schools, the Irish research council, non-profit organizations, and private corporations. Students with high academic standing may also apply for entry into an Intercalated Honors Degree course in selected preclinical subjects. An intercalated degree is an additional undergraduate degree (BSc or BA) or master's level program that you complete in an intensive year away from your normal medical, dental or veterinary studies.

Students are evaluated by submitting a final exam at the end of each school year. Throughout the year, assessments may involve seminars, multiple-choice tests, essays, clinical skills tests, oral exams, and projects. The final exam can combine essay papers, oral exams, multiple-choice tests, and practical exams. Grades for the in-course assessments and the final exam are combined to give you a final grade for the course. All classes are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. You can earn distinctions of honor and first-class honors if your performance is considered exceptional.

The school year runs from September to May during the pre-clerkship years. The academic year is divided into two semesters: from fall to winter break and from January to spring. During the clerkship years, the school year lasts a few weeks longer. There are breaks in winter, spring, and summer, as well as days off on statutory Irish holidays.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Just like in America and Canada, medical school tuition fees in Irish medical schools change every year but these are the latest annual tuition numbers:

Four-year courses:

University College Cork – €45,000

University College Dublin – €55,140

The University of Limerick – €47,592

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – €57,635

Five-year courses:

University College Cork – €39,000

University College Dublin – €53,040

National University of Ireland, Galway – €39,000

Trinity College Dublin – €41,200

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – €56,135

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain – US$39,500

Six-year courses:

University College Dublin – €53,040

National University of Ireland, Galway – €39,000

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – €56,135

Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain – US$39,500

Financial Aid for US students

Federal loans. If you're an American student studying at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC) or the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), you are eligible to apply for Federal Direct Loans. Since medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, and pharmacy are professional degrees, you will be able to borrow Federal Direct Unsubsidized (Stafford) Loans at the Graduate/Professional level if you have already completed at least three years of college or university. If you have less than three years of undergraduate studies, you are eligible for the Federal Direct Subsidized Loans. For more information, visit the Federal Direct Loans website. You can look for additional financial help with the US Federal Direct PLUS Loan for Graduate/Professional level students. You can borrow up to the full cost of your education using the PLUS Loan. This will cover your tuition, accommodation, travel, books, living expenses, etc. You can apply for the PLUS loan if you have already completed three years of college or university. If you have not completed three years of undergraduate study, your parents can attain the PLUS loan on your behalf. Once you finish three years of your medical school education, the responsibility of the loan can be transferred to you.

Private Loans. You can look into private education loans such as the Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan. Typically, these loans offer 100% coverage for all your school-certified expenses like tuition, fees, books, housing, meals, travel, and even technology. You will have a decent grace period, so you will not need to start paying back your loan in the first 2 or 3 years of your medical school career. You are also eligible for a deferment during your residency or fellowship. However, be aware that private loans can have interest rates and other hidden fees, so study these options carefully and fully understand under what conditions the loan is given to you.

School’s Financial Officer. Each of the Irish medical schools has a financial administrator who can provide you with information on all aspects of US Federal Student Aid including how to apply, loan amounts and repayment options, and disbursement schedules.

Financial Aid for Canadian Students

Student Line of Credit. This is one of the most common ways Canadian medical students fund their education at home and abroad. Lines of credit are offered by the majority of Canadian banks. Once you receive a letter of acceptance from medical school, you will be able to open a substantial line of credit. Be sure to discuss the repayment options and deferments with your bank but expect to start repaying your debt after you finish residency.

Canada Student Loan Program. According to the Canadian Ministry of Education, attending NUIG, RCSI, TCD, UCC, UCD, UL, or RCSI- MUB makes you eligible for the Canadian student loan programs. Canadian students studying in Ireland can apply for Canadian federal loans, provincial loans, and federal grants. You will need to research your eligibility for provincial loans and grants and their conditions in your home province.

Residency Options in North America

The Residency Match is a competitive procedure whether you graduate from the Atlantic Bridge program or a North American institution. However, your chances of matching to a residency program may be reduced if you choose to complete your medical school education outside of the country where you plan to practice. This is true for both Canada and the US. In America, an IMG is anyone who completes their education abroad, whether they are US or non-US citizens. So even if you are a US citizen, you are less likely to match to your desired residency with a degree from a foreign institution than someone who is not a US citizen with an American degree. American institutions participating in the Match, tend to give preference to "in-house trained” candidates over others. Additionally, the competition for residency spots has grown exponentially in the last few years because osteopathic degrees have become more widespread. Today, DO graduates match residency programs alongside their MD counterparts, and even though they are less successful so far, they are still taking those coveted residency spots from IMGs. As a graduate from one of the Irish medical colleges, you will need to take all the necessary steps to be simply eligible to participate in the Match in the United States and Canada.

Residency in the US

Take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1. It is a one-day multiple-choice examination that evaluates your understanding of the preclinical sciences. Students in Ireland typically take this test after completing the pre-clerkship training in their medical school. You do not need to travel to North America to take this test - there is a testing center in Dublin.

Take a clinical elective at an American teaching hospital or clinic. It is crucial to gain some clinical experience in the country where you plan to practice. So, during your clerkship years, you must seek out clinical elective rotations at a US teaching hospital or clinic to be exposed to the practice of medicine there. Not only will you able to gain insights about the differences between the Irish and American medical training, but your elective will be a great opportunity to secure your letters of reference for residency applications. This will be your chance to forge relationships with American colleagues and faculty who can later recommend you for residency in the United States. Some of the Atlantic Bridge schools have organized clinical and research electives that you can take during the summer months at partnering academic teaching hospitals and clinics in the United States and Canada. Do not miss this chance. If you are planning to return to the United States to practice, perhaps you will want to research ahead what kind of clinical electives are available at the Irish school you’re planning to attend. Find out whether they partner with US schools and have a history of sending Atlantic Bridge students to the US for clinical electives. It will be difficult to match a residency in the US without a clinical background there.

Take the USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge (CK). Step 2 of the USMLE is also a one-day multiple-choice exam that evaluates your applied clinical knowledge in providing supervised patient care. Students in Ireland typically take this test between the end of the second-to-last year and the fall of the final year, i.e. if you're in a five-year program, you will take the test in the period between the spring months of the fourth year and the fall months of your fifth year. Once again, you will not need to travel to the United States to be evaluated.

Take USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills (CS). This is a one-day pass/fail evaluation that uses simulated patients to observe your ability to take the history of the patients, their examination, and investigation skills. The test also evaluates your interpersonal and communication skills, as well as the proficiency of your spoken English. You will need to travel to the United States to take this test. There are test centers throughout the US.

Enter the National Residency Matching Program (NRMP). During the last year of medical school, you will enter the NRMP system that matches medical students to residency spots in the US. All applications must be submitted through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS). Your residency application is a serious undertaking. As part of your ERAS application, you will need to provide personal statements and recommendation letters. Your personal statement should be able to fit into the allotted space in the ERAS application, so try to prepare a statement no longer than 750-850 words. You should submit one personal statement per specialty and should not submit separate personal statements for each program you apply to. Before you begin to write your personal statement, have a look at some successful residency personal statement examples to give you an idea of what residency programs are looking for. You can provide three to four recommendation letters for your chosen residency programs. Be sure to include letters from American medical professionals who you’ve worked with and who know you well. Getting exceptional residency recommendations is a laborious process, so give yourself enough time and plan who you are going to ask.

Residency Program Interview. Around December of the final year of medical school, chosen students receive interview invitations from US residency programs. You will need to prepare thoroughly for this. Although typically the residency interview is also the students' chance to see if the program is right for them, IMGs do not have this same luxury. Of course, nobody can force you to join a residency program you do not like, but if you want to go back and practice medicine in the United States you may not have the option to be overly picky. Getting into an American residency program is difficult for an IMG, so if you get an interview, you must absolutely ace it. Work hard to get ready! Firstly, research the program and the person who will conduct your interview. The more you know about the institution and their work, the more insightful comments you can make and questions you can ask. Know what to expect from your interviewers. Though it is difficult to get in, don’t be discouraged. To get ready, you can start by practicing with residency interview questions. After the interview, you will be responsible for entering a Rank Order List (ROL) of desired residencies via ERAS. The programs will also enter their ranked list of applicants. Students are matched to residencies and the results are announced in mid-March.

Learn how to match into a competitive residency program as an international medical graduate:

Residency in Canada

While citizenship does not play an important role in the residency match in the United States, in Canada, only permanent residents and citizens can match to a residency program. If you’re a Canadian studying in Ireland, you must take all the necessary steps to be eligible to participate in the residency match.

Take electives at a Canadian medical school. This is absolutely necessary if you plan to return to Canada to practice. During your clinical training in Ireland, you must find clinical elective rotations in Canada. Just like American programs, Canadian medical institutions want to see that you have clinical experience in their country. This is your chance to secure recommendation letters from Canadian medical professionals who can vouch for your ability to work on par with Canadian applicants. If you are an absolute success at the hospital or clinic where you take your elective, this may be an opportunity to join the institution’s residency program in the future. You can apply for clinical elective opportunities in Canada via the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) Student Portal.

Write the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). This simple, one-day test evaluates your ability to communicate in English and is required from all IMGs for admission to Canadian residencies. Even though Ireland is recognized as a country having English as a first language, this does not exempt its graduates from the test. There is a testing center in Dublin.

Write the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination (MCCQE) Part I. This is a one-day computer-based test that evaluates your critical medical knowledge and clinical decision-making abilities. You should prepare to take the exam during the fall semester of your final year, so you can start your Canadian residency upon completion of the Irish medical school. You do not need to travel to Canada to take the test. You can schedule a remote-proctoring appointment by contacting the Prometric’s special needs booking line for your geographic location and setting up an exam appointment.

Take the National Assessment Collaboration – Objective Structured Clinical Examination (NAC OSCE). All IMGs need to take this clinical exam. It assesses your clinical knowledge, skills, and whether you are ready to start your medical training in Canada. You will need to take the MCCQE before you take NAC OSCE. Check the provincial regulation for specific requirements.

Enter the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS). You should register with CaRMS early in the final year of your Irish medical school education. All matching is done through CaRMS, which allows the applicants to choose where to pursue residencies, and on the other hand, allows program directors to choose applicants who best fit their programs. The CaRMS application has five components: a CV, transcripts, Medical Student Performance Report (MSPR), reference letters, and personal statements:

• Your residency CV should outline your education and academic background, honors, awards, employment history, professional organizations, volunteer and extracurricular activities, your research background, and any other important accomplishments. Don't' hesitate to include activities like sports and music to show program directors that you are a well-rounded candidate. Your CV should be organized in reverse chronological order (newest to oldest) and formatted so it is easy to read.

• As a graduate of an international school, you will need to ensure that your Irish medical school sends a sealed copy of your transcript to CaRMS by the application deadline.

• Your CaRMS application must include the MSPR assessment which is typically prepared and signed by the dean of your medical school. The MSPR includes every score you received on elective or core rotations, and most importantly, includes comments from each rotation preceptor. These will be the same comments that appear on each of your ITER (in-training evaluation report) rotation evaluations. To get insightful comments from the preceptor, ask them to fill out the ITER form on the last day of the rotation. You can sit down with them and ask to go through each section of the feedback form and give you detailed feedback. You can ask the preceptor to speak to your particular strengths, because if you simply ask them to fill out the form, they might check off the form’s boxes and leave little to no comments. This will not give insight into your abilities. So, take initiative and speak with each preceptor after your rotation is completed.

• Typically, residency programs require three letters of recommendation from applicants. Check with your specific program to make sure. Your reference letters should be written by physicians or professors. If you have participated in an extensive research project, you should definitely ask your principal investigator (PI) for a reference. As an IMG, you will have a better chance of matching if one of your referees is a Canadian medical professional. To make the mailing process easier, you can provide your writers with pre-addressed envelopes and ask them to mail the letters to CaRMS, or pick up the sealed letters yourself and mail them in. Give your writers and yourself plenty of time to write and send the letters by the deadline. If you are mailing the letters from across the Atlantic, be sure to give yourself enough time.

• Similar to the American personal statement, your personal letter should outline why you’re choosing to pursue the specialty and the program to which you’re applying. Have a strong introduction, a body of paragraphs focused on two or three major experiences, and a memorable conclusion. Check with each program whether they have a character limit, but usually, your statement should be between 750-850 words. To get some inspiration, read the programs’ descriptions on their website and the CaRMS directory. These descriptions can provide you with clues about what the program is looking for in its applicants, what kind of experiences are particularly valuable for success, and what kind of opportunities its graduates pursue. If you are having trouble writing your personal statement and want help, click here.

CaRMS Interview. Each program you apply to will update their interview offer status through CaRMS to let you know if you’ve been selected. If you do not get invited you will not receive an explanation from the programs, as they rarely explain their decisions. If you are chosen, your status in CaRMS should indicate that you have been selected for an interview and you will receive an email from the program which will give you details about the interview format, location, duration, and other important information. If your status in CaRMS indicates that you have been selected but you have not received an email from the program, make sure you email them directly. Some programs may offer video or phone interviews, while others will require you to travel to be in person at the interview. To get ready for your interview, practice with CaRMS interview questions. Depending on your interview format, you may want to run through different types of questions, including MMI questions. You may also want to prepare for the inevitable "Tell me about yourself" residency interview question. If you want to be fully prepared and confident for your CaRMS interview, make sure to check out the CaRMS interview prep guide in our blog. 

Moving to Ireland

Citizens of Canada and the US do not need a visa to study in Ireland. You will need to present the immigration authorities with your valid passport, official university acceptance letter, evidence of tuition fees paid, evidence that you can fund yourself during your stay in Ireland, i.e. bank statement, credit card statement, or loan documents, and proof of health insurance. The immigration authorities will expect to see that as a full-time student you have at least €3,000 when you enter the country. After you arrive in Ireland and register with the university, you will need to register in person with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. They will issue you an Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card. You will need to provide your passport, a student ID, evidence of financial support, and proof of health insurance coverage. You will need to pay €300 by Interac or credit card.

If you cannot provide a document that proves your financial stability for your stay in Ireland, you can contact Education Bond Ireland to satisfy entry requirements as well as immigration registration.

Final Reflections

If you are a student from North America looking to attend medical schools in Europe, the Atlantic Bridge program can become your haven if you are not having luck with programs in the United States and Canada. The application process and eligibility requirements for the Irish medical schools are much more relaxed, as most schools do not have GPA expectations and MCAT requirements. Compared to the AMCAS, OSMAS, or AACOMAS application procedures, Atlantic Bridge seems to leave more wiggle room for its applicants in terms of what’s expected, i.e. there’s no rigid work and activities section, fewer recommendation letters required, and generally, a less intimidating application procedure. This does not mean that you shouldn’t take application procedures seriously since you need to prepare solid application components and stand out as a candidate.

However, attending medical school outside of the country where you plan to practice may be dangerous. If you’re a North American student looking to work in the US and Canada, you should think twice before you commit to Irish medical education. Your chances to match will be jeopardized and your choice in programs will be limited, as they are for most IMGs. You will not save money by attending Irish medical schools. Attendance costs in Irish med schools are comparable with US medical school tuition costs and much higher than Canadian tuition costs. Add moving costs, living costs, and exchange rates with the Euro, you'll be spending much more money on your medical school education than in North America.

Consider your options and make a decision that will be right for you. If your dream is to become a physician and you do not care where you will practice, you might want to consider the Atlantic Bridge option. Ireland is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture. During your studies, you will be able to meet medical professionals from all over the world, be exposed to a new educational system, and will have a chance to travel to the UK and continental Europe. If your heart is not set on practicing in any one place in the world and you like an adventure, the Atlantic Bridge program may be for you.

FAQs

1. Where should I send all my application components for the Atlantic Bridge program?

You can send hard copies of your application components to the program’s address: 3419 Via Lido, Suite 629, Newport Beach, CA 92663, USA. Any electronic copies of your application components should be emailed to their admissions email at [email protected]

2. What is the timeline for submissions and when do I hear back from them?

The deadline to submit an Application Request Form is November 15th. You will be contacted by the program within 1 or 2 business days regarding eligibility, application instructions, admissions requirements, deadlines, and other guidelines. This information will depend on which schools you choose. Interviews with Canadian and American applicants are typically held in April. All interviews are conducted online this year.

3. Will I be able to practice medicine in the United States or Canada if I graduate from one of the Atlantic bridge schools?

Yes, graduates are eligible to practice in all the EU nations, in all British Commonwealth nations and territories, as well as the US and Canada, if they complete residency. A successful completion of an Irish degree does not guarantee that you will match your desired residency program in the US and Canada, but it does not eliminate you from the applicant pool.

4. How come I can’t match to a residency spot in Ireland?

Typically, residency spots in Ireland are reserved for Irish citizens or residents, and American or Canadian students are not eligible to apply to them. Therefore, you cannot complete residency in Ireland and must do so in the US or Canada to be able to practice independently.

5. How many North American students are admitted to the Irish medical schools annually?

Approximately 300 US and Canadian students are accepted every year. According to the latest data, around 1000 North American students are studying medicine in Ireland.

6. Do I need to be a citizen of the United States or Canada to be eligible to apply to Irish medical schools through the Atlantic Bridge?

No, a student from a non-EU nation can apply through Atlantic Bridge. If you’re not an EU applicant, it is recommended that you have some educational background in USA, Canada or Europe, or a branch of their schools abroad.

7. How long do Irish medical programs last?

As an American and Canadian undergraduate student, you are most likely to be eligible for the five- and four-year programs. Six-year programs are designed for students entering directly out of high school.

8. Is the MCAT a requirement?

The MCAT is only required if you are applying to the four-year program. You may choose to submit your MCAT if you are applying to the other two streams.

9. Do Irish medical schools have interviews?

Four schools require an interview: The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the University of Limerick, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – Medical University of Bahrain, and University College Dublin. All interviews are conducted online.

10. Will I get a good medical education in Ireland?

Irish medical education is not inferior to North American, but each country has its own educational system and priorities. Generally, the testimonies of North American students who attend the Irish schools are full of praise for their system. Many students also note that the Irish programs tend to be similar to North American schools’ programs and their curricula.

11. Can I work while I study in Ireland to support myself?

As a non-EU full-time student, you are allowed to work part-time up to 20 hours per week during term time and up to 40 hours per week during holidays. When you register with Garda, your IRP card will indicate this, so there is no need for a work visa or permit.

12. I have not been successful in my attempts to attend a North American medical school. I don’t really want to move to Ireland, but what if it’s my only chance to attend med school?

Uprooting your life and moving to attend medical school in Ireland may be a radical move if you dream is to attend a North American school and practice medicine in Canada or the US. If you wish to bolster your chances of getting into North American medical schools, there are several things you can do. You can increase your GPA, re-take the MCAT exam, work on your extracurriculars, get more research or clinical background, or apply to post-baccalaureate or special master’s programs. Remember, Irish medical schools may have less rigid admission requirements, i.e. lower GPA expectations and no MCAT, but they are still competitive. Your application must be very good to get accepted.

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Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting