FOXBORO – Starting your medical career 4,000 miles from home at age 18 might seem daunting to most people, but not Ben Ricketts.
One of three children of Daniela and Randall Ricketts, who moved to Foxboro from Tennessee 16 years ago, Ben is preparing to head to Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, to start a career in medicine.
Ben, who graduated from Foxboro High School in June, passed the Charles University Medical School entrance exam, which allowed him to skip the four-year bachelor’s degree requirements common in the United States and start medical school immediately.
Ricketts is enrolled in a six-year medical program and will have the opportunity to reside in America. The medical program is aligned with the programs offered in American schools, so that a student can practice medicine in the states after passing final exams.
Daniela Ricketts said the program costs $14,000 a year for six years.
Ben’s older brother Sebastian, 21, is currently studying biomedicine at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, on a three-year accelerated program. As is common in Europe, a bachelor’s degree is free and the only costs are room and board. Sebastian will complete in June 2023 and after that hopes to start medical school in Sweden.
Al Ricketts conducted significant research on medical schools that offered recognized courses in the United States that were taught in English. Based on these criteria, they found nearly 30 programs across Europe that were top schools. They narrowed this selection down by reviewing several different world university ranking systems and each university’s website to determine those schools that were the best performing and most successful in the United States.
At that point, it was just a matter of discussing it with Ben to decide what he thought and where he wanted to go. His initial interest included schools in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland.
Daniela said she spent some time in Prague 30 years ago, it might be far from the city now, but she said the Old Town should still be as beautiful as ever.
She said they hope their son will gain the ability to be agile in his approach to life, be able to adapt to new and different people, systems and cultures, and as a result, be in a better position to take advantage of opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.
“We are, of course, very proud of Ben,” she said. “We admire his work ethic, his diligence to complete hard work, his sense of purpose and direction, but most importantly, his sincere heart.”
Ben said he chose Charles University because of the school’s focus on pediatrics, and that his family was very excited when he announced that he intended to study there.
“It was around the time of graduation, so all of my extended family were present, and they were all cheering because I got into medical school right after high school,” he said.
He is very excited about the change he will experience – from new cultures and learning the Czech language, to Christmas festivals and new traditions.
“I really look forward to all the new people I meet during my time at Charles University,” he said. “Prague is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. It is a mixture of old and new.”
Ricketts said the university itself was founded in 1348 and he thought he would enjoy being a part of the old world customs and traditions. On the other hand, the hospital in which he will learn and work is relatively modern and is known as one of the largest pediatric centers in Europe.
“My dream is to one day earn a MD and start specializing under a broad spectrum of pediatrics,” he said. “We hope the children are sedated.”
Along the way, Ricketts intends to hike and travel through Central Europe, including spending time in the Dolomites, Bohemia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Germany, all of which are just hours away.
“I love to travel and plan to travel all my life. It allows me to open my eyes to a whole new world outside of Foxboro. Our family has often traveled abroad, particularly to Europe, and my awareness of the history and traditions of the Czech Republic, or the Czech Republic, has led me to gravitate toward Charles and Prague University.
Ricketts said the prospect of cutting back his study time was a major factor in his decision to go abroad.
“This English-taught medical program gives me the opportunity to avoid major college debts and subtract four years from my total study time while I advance in my medical studies,” he said.
Another advantage of this school is that he is eligible to start the US Medical Licensing Exam exams after completing his second year of study.
Most importantly, the program at Charles University is accredited by the California Board of Medicine and will allow him the opportunity to apply for a medical residency in the United States.
He said he always felt like he wanted to jump straight into medicine and start running.
It doesn’t hurt that he has a grandmother and uncle who live in Munich/Nuremberg, so he’ll have family a few hours away by car. In addition, since his brother is studying at university in Stockholm, they will be relatively close to each other, and both hope to take advantage of this to meet regularly.
“While it took several months of preparation and testing, I couldn’t have done it without my family. Whether my mom made me breakfast at 1am before my entrance exam or my dad built a database of foreign universities over several years, I wouldn’t be on my way to Prague without them.”