The Vita-Salute San Raffaele University

Vita-Salute San Raffaele University is one of two private universities for Medicine and Surgery in Milan, Italy.

The university is mainly focused on scientific and medical disciplines, with courses in nursing, obstetrics, psychology, and dentistry, but it also hosts a humanities course in philosophy.

It’s a very “young” university founded in 1996; it prides itself on being modern in its facilities and its approach to teaching.

International Medical Doctor Program – IMDP

The International Medical Doctor Program (“IMDP” for short) is a course for all Italian and foreign students interested in studying Medicine and Surgery in English at San Raffaele.

The degree lasts six years and offers excellent preparation as a medical doctor and the possibility to register on any medical board in the EU (including UK-GMC).

It is equivalent to an Italian medical degree, allowing you to register for the Postgraduate test in Italy. Many IMDP students also prepare for and sit the United States Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and do their residencies in the United States.

Admission to the course is based on selection through a test, which aims to evaluate your analytical and logical skills and some basic scientific knowledge. The admission test is a computer-based test taken from home (to favor international students who want to enroll), taking place in March. For the current academic year, there are 150 spots available:

  • 86 for EU citizens
  • 64 for non-EU citizens.

It will likely stay the same or slightly increase in the future.

To enroll in the program, you need to have a C1 level certificate in the English language, but you don’t need one to sit the admissions test.

The annual fee for the International MD Program is 20.140€, divided into three installments.

Position of IMDP

San Raffaele University is located in Segrate, on the northeast periphery of Milan.

It can be easily reached by public transport, getting off the metro at Cascina Gobba (M2) and taking a short bus ride to the main campus (or a medium-length walk for the sportier ones).

Despite the peripheral position, one of its strong points is that San Raffaele Hospital and the university buildings are attached.

The main campus shares its courtyard with the hospital, while the new “Milano 2” campus is 10 minutes from it.

As the university expands, hosting more and more students every year, it will likely move some internships to other hospitals of its group, like Policlinico San Donato in south-east Milan.

Study Plan of IMDP

The first couple of years of the course are preclinical: the classes cover the foundations of medicine, such as biology, biochemistry, genetics, and anatomy. In these first years, chances are you will not see the inside of the hospital (although there is a short two-day internship in Nursing at the end of the first year).

By the third year, you will study disease mechanisms and have your first actual rotations in the hospital. The sixth year is a bit lighter than the previous: with only three exams, you will have time to focus on your thesis and potentially gain experience abroad before graduating.

Elective courses are highly peculiar at the International MD Program: students are encouraged to choose an area of interest early on and take elective classes. Currently, four tracks are offered: a more general one with courses spanning from biology to geriatrics and three more specific ones for those interested in surgery, research or global health.

You can find the complete study plan for the six years on the university’s website.

The First Year at IMDP

The academic year begins in October and ends in September. This doesn’t mean you’ll have continuous classes throughout the whole year! Lessons go from October to mid-January and then from March to mid-May.

After each semester, you’ll have a few weeks of study leave and then the dreaded exam session. The winter session is in February, the summer session is in July, and there is an extra session in September to catch up on the exams you may have left behind.

Italian universities mark exams out of 30, with 18 being a pass and 30 cum laude being honors. Each mark will then weigh differently on your average, depending on how many credits (CFU) it has. The bigger the exam, the more CFU it will have.

In the first year, you will have the following courses and exams:

  • Medical physics (1st semester) – 5 CFU
  • Basic medical statistics (1st semester) – 6 CFU
  • Medicinal chemistry and biochemistry (annual) – 11 CFU
  • Molecular cell biology (annual) –  9 CFU
  • Medicine as a human endeavor (annual) – 9 CFU
  • Medical genetics (2nd semester) – 8 CFU

Plus some other shorter courses and training activities (no exam for these!):

  • Nursing internship (2nd semester) – 1 CFU
  • Basic life support (2nd semester) – 1 CFU
  • Quantitative Biology (2nd semester) – 1 CFU
  • Language and behavior (2nd semester) – 1 CFU

The first year is intense but manageable: an excellent way to ease into the reality of being a med student!

Classes are from Monday to Friday, and the schedule changes weekly. The time of classes also varies: you may only have one class one day, while on a more extended day, you could have lectures from 9 AM to 6 PM. There is always an hour-long lunch break at 1 PM: students can spend it in the cafeteria or outside if the weather is nice. Attendance is mandatory: you must attend 70% of all classes to sit your exams.

Pros and cons of IMDP

Pros

  • Modern campus with newly built study rooms and lecture rooms
  • High-level rotations in one of the best hospitals in the country
  • Great attention to the individual students
  • Innovative elective courses
  • Access to laboratories performing advanced biomedical research

Cons

  • High university fees
  • Position far from the city center
  • Competitive admission test
  • Few scholarships

Lunch and Libraries

The Milano 2 campus, where you’ll likely spend the first three years of your career at San Raffaele, has great study rooms with big tables to work in groups. Around 1 PM, the study rooms and the lecture rooms double as canteens for all those who bring their lunch from home (the famous Milanese “schiscetta,” which means lunch box).

For the people who don’t like to cook, there’s a canteen with lower prices for students. Many cafes and restaurants in the surrounding areas to get a sandwich or sit down for lunch (a student favorite is a Chinese restaurant on the lake for when you’re feeling fancy).

The library is not as frequented as the study rooms. Still, the digital library offers a great selection of medical books and textbooks and access to most scientific publications without a subscription. If study rooms aren’t your thing, you may prefer the UNIMI libraries in Città Studi, which are only a few metro stops from San Raffaele.

For more information about the library, click here.

Studying Abroad

IMDP students are encouraged to carry out part of their education abroad, and there are many opportunities. Students can travel all over Europe through the Erasmus+ program, usually during the fourth year. Then, in the sixth year, IMDP students are encouraged to conduct internships abroad while writing their thesis.

Former and current students have carried out internships all over the United States and Europe (Belgium, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden…), some in Israel, Turkey, Australia, and even Japan!

For more information: International Services at San Raffaele.

Secretary’s Office

You can book an appointment at this link for any doubts about the admissions process or the university. You can also contact the secretariat via call or email:

Enrolment

You can sign up to sit the admissions test on the university website at this link (please remember that the test has already taken place for the academic year 2023/24).

Candidates with a non-Italian high school leaving certificate or attending the last year of an international/non-Italian high school must send a copy of their final Diploma/Certificate or transcripts to [email protected] before registering for the admission test. For more information on academic requirements, click here (or, if you prefer a summary,  here).

Having already finished high school to take the admission test is unnecessary. However, having a high school qualification is mandatory to enroll in the Degree Course.

Admitted candidates must submit an official English language certification corresponding to level C1 to register. Those who have attended at least the last two years of high school or have completed a minimum of two years of university entirely in English are exempted from submitting this certificate.

Transferring to IMDP

Any student wishing to transfer to the IMDP course at San Raffaele from another Degree Course in Medicine and Surgery can apply to the Call for transfer, which opens in June/July.

You will need to submit scores and credits obtained in your degree so far, and you may or may not be admitted depending on how many spots are available in the year group you are trying to transfer. If accepted, you may have some of your past exams validated or need to retake others.

For more information about transferring to San Raffaele, visit the university’s website at this link.

Scholarships

For students whose families are unable to afford the university fees. They are few, and specific financial, merit, and course progress criteria must be met to benefit from these forms of assistance.

To learn more about applying for scholarships, visit this link.

Accommodation

If you’re looking to move to the city, there are different options depending on how close you want to be to the university and how much you want to spend. Milan, like other major European cities, is expensive, and students can expect to pay roughly 1.000€ monthly on rent, utilities, food and transport.

Many international students choose to live in University residences. San Raffaele University has two dedicated student halls called Cascina Melghera (a 1-minute walk from the university) and Cassinella (a 20-minute walk from the university). Both residences have single bedrooms with private facilities and common rooms for studying breakfast, or leisure activities. They also have a gym and a laundry room. (Downside: cooking is not permitted inside the residences).

Other students choose to rent a room/apartment: most students live in Segrate, near the university but far from the city center, or in north-eastern Milan, in neighborhoods like Città Studi and Loreto (more expensive, but closer to the center and the nightlife).

Important recommendation!: look for places near the northern stops of Metro Line 2, known as “the green line.” The green line will be your second home.

You can find more information about university residences and accommodation in the city at this link.

Conclusion

Are you convinced yet? If you want to study Medicine in Italy, San Raffaele is a great choice. It’s modern, it’s academically excellent and it’s culturally rich, with students coming from all over the world. It also has a great sense of community: with competitive sports teams, journal clubs and musical events, you’ll undoubtedly find your place at this university.

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