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Why I Decided to Study Medicine in Italy

By Chloe Lane

Updated October 19, 2021 Updated October 19, 2021

Meet Elena Shimizu: an international student who moved to Italy to study a medicine and surgery degree at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Here’s why she chose to study medicine in Italy. 

Sponsored by Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore 

With rich history and architecture, delicious food and plenty of culture, Italy is one of the most attractive destinations in the world for tourists and students alike.   

It’s also a great place to study medicine, boasting one of the best healthcare systems in the world and home to some of the most prestigious medical schools. Italy features an impressive 29 medical schools in the most recent QS World University Rankings by Subject

TopUniversities spoke to Elena Shimizu, an international student from Tokyo in her fifth year of studying an English-taught medicine and surgery degree at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. We talked to Elena about why she decided to study in Italy and how she’s found it so far.  

Practical training 

 practical training doctors

For Elena, one of the biggest draws to studying medicine in Italy was the high level of practical training she would receive at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.  

While many of Italy’s medical schools strive for a blend of practical experience and theoretical knowledge, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore offers something unique: students will get the opportunity to train in the school’s on-campus university hospital.  

“For me, one of the biggest strengths of this university is the quality of practical training in the hospital,” said Elena. 

Policlinico Gemelli hospital is one of the largest hospitals in Italy and played a leading role in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also ranked the best hospital in Italy by Newsweek. Having an on-campus hospital gives students a chance to experience hands-on, problem-based learning, alongside more traditional Italian education practices. 

At Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, students are encouraged to specialise in certain areas of medicine and surgery. Elena explains that being so close to a hospital made it easier to explore these specialities in more depth. 

“Being taught in such an important hospital allows us to see many unique and complex cases,” said Elena. 

The Italian culture 

Italy 

Studying abroad in Italy was a natural step for Elena, who is half Italian and often used to visit Italy during the summer.  

“I've always loved the warmth and energy here. It is a very beautiful country with much to offer, from natural sights to cultural ones,” she said. 

Although Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore’s medicine and surgery programme is based in Rome, the medicine and surgery degree is taught in English. This greatly appealed to Elena, who says that studying an English-taught degree was very important to her. 

The classes at Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore’s medicine and surgery programme are incredibly diverse, with students from at least 15 different nationalities.  

“Coming from an international background, it was easier for me to fit in a multicultural setting rather than a more traditional Italian one,” said Elena.  

Elena says that she would recommend studying in Italy and has made lots of friends since moving to Rome, but she did initially struggle with adapting to the Italian lifestyle. 

She said: “The first year was a little bit chaotic and I struggled to adapt to a new way of studying, a new lifestyle and a completely new environment. 

“However, after a while I got a hold of it and things started going more smoothly. I mainly made friends in my class, but I also met students from other faculties. The easiest part to adapt to was probably the food, which is always so good.” 

While studying Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore’s medicine and surgery programme, international students attend Italian language courses to help them integrate into Italian society and communicate better with patients. This also prepares students for any further study they may continue with after university. 

International employment opportunities  

Employment opportunities hospital 

One of the big attractions of studying medicine in Italy is the international employment opportunities available to students after graduation.  

Italian medicine degrees are valid in all countries across the European Union and in many other countries, although students may need to pass a particular country’s licensing exam to practise there. This makes it easy for students to train in Italy and to work abroad after graduation. 

The innovative and broad curriculum at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore means that medicine graduates are qualified medical practitioners who are qualified to carry out surgery in the various roles and in clinical, health and biomedical professional fields. 

In their fourth, fifth and sixth years, medical students undertake an assessed internship in healthcare operational units where they receive professional training in internal medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, as well as in medical-surgical specialties. Students must pass this internship and the State Examination in order to become a qualified medical practitioner. 

During these clinical years of her medical degree, Elena’s days were split in two: hospital training and classes, starting early in the morning and finishing in the evening. By learning in this way, Elena picked up various transferrable skills that will be useful throughout her career.  

She said: “Every doctor and professor taught me something different, but one thing all of them taught me is the importance of the dialogue between the patient and the clinician. This is something I used to struggle with a lot, as I am very impatient and tend to jump to conclusions very easily. I think this is one of the most important skills I will need in my life as a physician.” 

Excellent facilities 

facilities on campus 

Wherever you decide to study medicine in Italy, you will certainly benefit from excellent facilities. At Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore, the first three years of the medicine and surgery degree are spent studying in classrooms, state-of-the-art labs and in the university’s on-campus library. Classes are small, with a maximum of 80 students in a lecture.  

From fourth year to sixth year, students are taught in the Gemelli university hospital, where there are classrooms and another large, three-story library.  

“The hospital library is very practical, with PC seats, desks and couches to study in a more relaxed environment. It is open from early morning till late at night, and this is especially helpful during exam sessions,” said Elena. 

Throughout their time at Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore, students are also taught in the Interactive Patient Simulation Experience Centre (IPSE centre) which uses cutting-edge technology to replicate diagnostic and therapeutic simulation paths. Here, high-tech software allows students to study, stimulate, learn and manage emergency situations with complex clinical cases in a learning environment. 

This article was originally published in October 2021 .

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Written by

As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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