Xinjiang Uygur Region to Hungary (2): University of Péc Medical Education Program
Editors: Akihiko Ozaki M.D., Yuki Senoo
I am a third-year medical student studying at the University of Péc’s medical school in Hungary. I am an Uyghur and have grown up in the small city of Bole, which covers an area of 7,802 km2 with a total population of approximately 10,600 people. In a previous article published by MRIC Global, I shared my story from before coming to Hungary. In this article, I would like to share my experience of studying at the University of Péc in Hungary as an Uyghur student.
When I came to Hungary for the first time, I was anxious because of the language barrier. My score for IELTS, an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers, was seven, which signified that my English skills were sufficient to study graduate courses. However, I still couldn't fully understand any of the classes. To get some help from a peer, I joined the IFMSA, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations. In this student association, I made several friends in my senior year who were able to help me study medicine in English. This experience eventually helped me not just to keep up with the class, but to excel in my studies.
Here in Hungary, all of the medical schools offer six-year programs consisting of two years of basic modules, a one-year preclinical module, and two years of a clinical module taught in three languages: Hungarian, English, and German. You can choose any program regardless of your nationality as long as you submit a certificate for sufficient language qualification that meets the criteria for each medical school. Furthermore, you can switch the language the program is taught in during your six-year course.
In the first part, the basic module, students learn the basics of medical knowledge and study subjects such as biology, medical Hungarian, biophysics, physiology, biochemistry, anatomy, and medical histology. This course is designed to provide students the basic language skills required to communicate with patients in their upcoming clinical years and to equip them with the medical knowledge necessary for the rest of their careers as physicians. Besides, as these years are said to be the toughest years of medical student life, they will force you to get used to the stress and the busy, sleepless daily schedule that you will encounter when you become a physician. This includes getting up as early as at 5 am for classes and going to bed as late as 12:00 to 1 am. It is not only because of the busy schedule that many medical students studying in Hungary find the preclinical years difficult, but also due to the oral exams, for which students are expected to know every single detail in the books and beyond. Due to hardships in the preclinical years, approximately 1/3 of students give up after three failed attempts at oral examinations.
When you successfully make it to the preclinical program, which begins
in the third year, you will receive a white coat at a ceremony held before the upcoming semester.
The preclinical module takes one year to complete. It consists of the following subjects: pathology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, internal medicine, and basic surgical skills. In preclinical years, students attend half of their classes on campus and the rest at the university hospital. The classes center around topics related to patient care. For the examinations, students treat virtual cases. You will have to quickly explain the etiology and pathology of a disease, its clinical symptoms and signs, and address medical examination findings such as ECGs, biopsy samples, and other imaginary findings. At the end of the examination, you also have to provide differential diagnosis and treatment plans and a medical prescription.
During the classes held at the university hospitals, every student has to speak to patients in Hungarian and complete patient medical history intake and physical examination alone.
Furthermore, for medical students in Hungary, summer break is not the time for a vacation. At the end of every spring semester, you have to complete summer practice at the hospitals of your choice, including in foreign countries, to complete medical clerkship. Between preclinical years, students must complete four weeks practicing nursing skills at the hospitals. During the senior year, students are required to practice medical communication skills.
The last part of the medical program is dedicated to the clinical modules. This module takes two years, and the students will visit the different departments for several weeks each during the first year of the module. Students also have to write a diploma thesis and defend their thesis before the end of the module. For the clinical modules, students are allowed to choose between completing the module at a Hungarian university or any other country through Erasmus.
If completing the clinical module in hospitals outside Hungary, students have to come back to the university for the state examination. During the six years, you also have to take a minimum of 45 credits of optional and elective courses. There are many options you can choose to learn, including foreign languages, art, and psychology. You can also join the student research committee, choose a department relevant to your interests, or find a professor and join his or her research. At the end of every year, there is a student research conference at which students present the results of their studies. If your research or work gets an excellent evaluation from the professor, you can be exempted from writing the diploma thesis, and you can also present your research at international research conferences.
Comparison between Chinese and Hungarian medical school
In my opinion, the Hungarian medical education system is much more difficult than that of China. The fact that I am studying in my second language could be one of the reasons why I feel Hungarian medical school is more challenging. Most examinations during medical school are in a written format in China, while in Hungary, every subject features oral examinations as well as practical and written examinations.
There is one disadvantage of Hungarian medical schooling compared to Chinese medical school: tuition for medical programs is two times greater. In China, the tuition for medical school is approximately 8,500 USD per year, while it is 16,750 USD at the University of Péc.
Although the path to becoming a medical doctor in Hungary is not easy, the University of Péc provides many wonderful opportunities for students to succeed in the future. Every day, I feel more prepared to my future career, and feel that I am getting closer to becoming a medical doctor. This is because my practical classes are provided in a small group setting, which enables students to have enough time to interact with patients. Moreover, the university of Péc has many scholars who have been awarded Nobel prizes in medicine. We have a lot of chances to be taught by many professors who are leading and excelling in medical fields worldwide.
Up to today, I have obtained a wonderful and priceless medical educational experience in both academic and clinical fields at the University of Péc.