Doctors are well-respected because of their contributions to society. They keep the population healthy and prevent dangerous diseases from overcoming the nation. In fact, a true mark of a successful country is how many doctors there are per 1000 people—the higher the number, the better quality of life the people have! Wherever you may be, medicine is a lucrative career that will always be in demand.

Italy, in particular, always wants to increase its number of doctors. Their universities are some of the best medical universities in the world, and they welcome both home and international students to study medicine. They offer medical degrees in English, make the application process easier for international students, and make working there after graduating really easy. So, if you want to study medicine abroad, then Italy is a very accessible way to do so.

Here are the six easy steps to becoming a doctor in Italy!

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Steps to Become a Doctor in Italy

1. Know Your Options, Language-Wise

Fortunately for international students, medicine courses are available in both Italian and English. The first step toward becoming a doctor in Italy is to know the language available and offered in the country. This was established to attract foreigners to come study in Italy. However, just because you can get away with obtaining your degree in English doesn’t mean you should ignore the Italian language completely. As a future doctor, you will need to communicate with your Italian-speaking patients and coworkers. You also decrease your chances of obtaining a work visa to practice medicine in Italy permanently.

You have two options moving forward. Your first option is to study Italian even before applying to medical school. Many high schools worldwide offer Italian as an elective, and there are language schools that offer Italian courses as well. Aim for at least an intermediate level as most Italian universities require that level of fluency. Accepted proficiency certificates include CELI, CILS, and PLIDA.

An advantage of this option is that you have more options to choose from—there are only a limited number of medical schools in Italy offering English medical degrees.

Your second option is to take an English medical degree and Italian language courses at the same time. While certainly difficult, it isn’t impossible. Lots of universities offer Italian language courses and may even offer scholarships if you can learn Italian in your undergraduate years.

2. Apply for Entrance Examinations

The entrance exam you need will depend on what language you plan on studying in.

To become a doctor in Italy, the second step is to apply for entrance examinations.  If you’re applying as an Italian speaker, you should apply for a GRE or a GMAT. These are Italy’s versions of the American SATs and can be taken anywhere in Italy or in select few centers around the world. Some universities may have their own admission exams, however, so make sure to read up on their requirements beforehand just to make sure you’re taking the right exam.

Meanwhile, if your desired program is English-taught, the International Medical Admissions Test is for you. This is a 100-minute, pen-and-paper test written in English. It is divided into four sections: Logical Reasoning and General Knowledge, and Scientific Knowledge in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.

This is a very basic exam that’ll test you on skills you should already have from high school, so it shouldn’t be too difficult. However, take note of their scoring format—every correct answer is worth 1.5 points while every wrong answer is worth -0.4. Questions left blank to have no score.

For more information on the test, please click here. To sign up for the IMAT, click here.

Of course, these exams aren’t your only admission requirements, so check with your university websites to see what else you need to submit. Required documents may include a school-leaving certificate, application form, transcript of records, and more.

3. Complete Your Medical Degree

Medical degrees in Italy typically last for six years. It is a comprehensive degree that combines both academic and practical work.

The next process of becoming a medical doctor in Italy is to complete your degree in medicine. The first three years of your degree will have you in the classroom and in the labs. Here, you will be learning the essential medical sciences like biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and more while also learning other relevant courses like psychology, ethics, and sociology. If you’re taking an English-taught medical program, you’ll also be learning Italian.

For your fourth, fifth, and final year in the program, you will be dividing your time evenly between classrooms and an assessed internship. A typical day at this stage starts by having early morning classes and ends with a shift at the hospital that will last until the evening.

The internship will be done in hospitals or clinics that are usually partnered up with your university. Here, you’ll get to experience a little bit of everything and dabble in all medical and surgical healthcare units like pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, and more.

You must pass all of your academics and your internship to graduate.

4. Pass the Licensing Exam

After you graduate with your medical degree, the next step to becoming a doctor in Italy is to pass a licensing exam called Esame di Stato di Medicina. This is a national rank-based exam that will determine which hospital you can work at and what specialty you can pursue (should you so wish).

It is comprised of a written test and an internship. The written test has 110 questions. The internship lasts three months and you will be assigned at various departments in medicine and surgery departments to both general and specialized doctors. Where you’ll be assigned will be determined by your grades—the lower they are, the less preference you’ll get for placement.

You must pass both of these to become a fully-fledged general practitioner. Apply for this exam through the website of Italy’s Ministry of Health.

5. Obtain Your Medical License

You’ll want to register for a medical license before you can start working. This is just so the Ministry of Health can know who you are and recognize that you’ve passed all your qualifications.

Look for the online registration form on the Ministry of Health website. You’ll need to pay €16 to access the form and fill it out. Once that’s done, submit your application online or send a physical copy of it to your local health office.

You’ll receive confirmation and a certificate within a month. Double-check with Ordine dei Medici’s online registry to really make sure you’ve been registered.

6. Getting Your Specialty

As we’ve already mentioned, getting high grades on your Esame di Stato de Medicina is very important when it comes to your specialty. That’s because in Italy, there is a limited number of residency positions available, and some specialties may even be harder to get into than others. To become an official doctor in Italy, the final step is to choose your specialization or area of expertise. You’ll really need to study and work very hard if you’re eyeing a particular specialization. If you don’t make it to your specialty of choice the first time, you can always work as a generalist for a year or two before trying again.

Once you’ve been accepted into your specialization, you’re required to do a residency program. This lasts anywhere between three to six years, and you’ll be working in a hospital setting under more experienced doctors. Here, you’ll be getting more in-depth training on your specialization, including doing rotations and performing any relevant procedures (e.g., epidurals for anesthesiology specialists).

By the end of your residency, you will become a specialist in your field and can start working without direct supervision.


I hope that this article on Steps to Become a Doctor in Italy was helpful. To know more information on how you can study in Europe, visit the Europe Scholarships Page.