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Which country do Indian doctors prefer for working- UK or USA? (M3 India survey)

M3 India Newsdesk Jun 27, 2018

Do Indian doctors look forward to working in the United States of America? Here we present the results of the online survey conducted by M3 India. We also compare these results with the results published earlier about the willingness of Indian doctors to work in the United Kingdom.


A background of the necessary conditions to work in the USA

The necessary conditions for foreign doctors to work in the USA, currently, are:

  1. Complete 4 years of medical schooling at an institution listed in International Medical Education Directory (IMED)
  2. Pass following exams within 7-year period
    • USMLE Step 1- cost for exam $610 (INR 41K)
    • USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge- cost for exam $610 (INR 41K)
    • USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills- cost for exam $1,285 (INR 88K)
    • USMLE Step 3 (usually taken during residency)- $850 (INR 58K)
  3. Additional surcharges apply for these exams when taken outside of the US. Most medical students prepare for the USMLE exams by using question banks for practice. The question bank used by most students is UWorld. It's a subscription service with pricing based upon the months of access one may need to it.
    • USMLE Step 1: $229 (INR 16K) for 30 days to $649 (INR 44K) for 2 years
    • USMLE Step 2: CK: $229 (INR 16K) for 30 days to $649 (INR 44K) for 2 years
    • USMLE Step 3: CS: $50 (INR 3K) for 30 days to $70 (INR 4K) for 60 days
    • USMLE Step 4: $229 (INR 16K) for 30 days to $649 (INR 44K) for 2 years
  4. Complete a residency program in the US (3-8 years depending on specialty) => only 50% of foreign medical school graduates are successful at entering a US residency program vs 95% for US medical school graduates
  5. J-1 visa is required to enter US to participate in the residency program

Current compensation level of doctors in the US**

  • Residents are typically paid $45,000 (INR 30 lakhs) per year
  • After completing the residency program, the physician must be licensed by the medical licensing board in the state the doctor plans to practice in. Their salary may vary by specialty.

Doctor's average salary (including bonus) by some selected specialty:

  • Cardiologist: $364,149 (INR 2.4 cr)
  • Dermatologist: $325,667 (INR 2.2 cr)
  • OBGYN: $271,057 (INR 1.8 cr)
  • Internal Medicine: $196,225 (INR 1.3 cr)
  • Endocrinologist: $190,081 (INR 1.3 cr)

Physicians with J-1 visas are usually only able to get full-time positions at underserved communities that have J-1 waivers (typically either rural communities or low socioeconomic urban communities).

Survey Results

We asked the same set of respondents if they would like to choose to work in the United States of America (USA).

  • 78% of the respondents agreed with the idea of working in the USA. (45.5% agreed 32.4% somewhat agreed)



  • Good quality of life was the top most cited reason for a majority (67%) of respondents agreeing to work in the USA
  • 10% of the respondents disagreed with working in the USA



USA or UK: Which is the preferred destination?

The survey results highlight that more doctors (84%) are willing to work in the UK than in the USA (78%).

This also means that 1.5x more doctors disagree with working in the US than the UK.

The table below summarizes the comparison of key points about the illustrative* working conditions between the UK and the US.

The table highlights 2 points:

1. The costs for necessary tests and compensation of junior doctors are not too different.

2. The big gaps are in the necessary period for preparation and compensation of specialty doctors.

Criteria In the UK In the USA
Necessary period for preparation ~2 years for Internship (depending on the experiences in India) to be non-specialty doctors
6~7 years to be specialty doctors
Need to pass 4 USMLE exams within 7 year period, after 4 years to complete medical school at an institution listed in IMED.
3-8 years to complete a residency program (depending on specialty)
Costs for necessary tests GBP 5k~6k (INR4.6~5.5 lakhs) for PLAB1 and PLAB2 $3,355 (INR2.3 lakhs) for 4 USMLE exams (+ $2,017 (INR1.4 lakhs) for UWorld quiz bank)
Compensation of junior doctors GBP 23k~28k (INR21~26 lakhs) /year for 1st~2nd year Junior Doctor $45k (INR 30 lakhs) / year for Residents
Compensation of specialty doctors GBP 60k~100k (INR56~93 lakhs) /year $190k~$364k (INR129~248 lakhs) / year
Ease of finding job   Only 50% of foreign medical school graduates are successful in entering a residency program.

Note: The salaries above are absolute values and not adjusted for any cost of living differences.

This result would indicate that, although the compensation level of the specialty doctors in the USA is much higher than in the UK, ease of procuring a job in UK makes it a preferred destination over USA for Indian doctors.

Some other findings from the comparison between the preferences of the Indian doctors about working in the US and the UK are as follows:

  • Good earnings were chosen as a reason to work in the USA by 58% respondents whereas 43% chose this reason for working in the UK.
  • Among respondents who chose not to work in the UK, the reason cited by most of the respondents (55%) was, “Do not want to change current place” whereas respondents who chose not to work in the USA, even when given a chance, chose insufficient time (26%) and inadequate money (31%) as a reason besides unwillingness to change places (41%).

To read interesting details about the willingness of Indian doctors to work in the UK, click here.

Stay tuned for our next article where we reveal the ranking of countries of preference to work abroad.

Do you want to say something about this topic? Post your view on the MDclip app. Download it here




*Though every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided is made, the illustrative necessary conditions expressed in this article are researched by the author as of April 2018, and do not necessarily reflect all the official rules of any related agencies for the doctors to work in the countries, and their changes since April 2018. Examples of the illustrative conditions mentioned within this article are only examples.

**This data should be read as indicative of rather than exact figures




176 doctors in India participated in this online survey. We have presented the data and facts as they are without generalizing the results as a reflection of the views of entire Indian doctor population. Also, limiting the sample to the Internet channel only may introduce bias in the results. We also urge that the findings should not be interpreted as implying cause and effect.


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