Why Apply to Caribbean Medical Schools?
Most people apply to Caribbean medical schools as a safety option. Only about 50% of all medical school applicants get accepted into an US medical school. My school only accepted about 3% of total applicants. So there may be a chance you won’t get accepted into a US medical school.
If that is the case, one option is to reapply the following year.
The other option is to apply to Caribbean medical schools. If I didn’t get into an US medical school, I was going to apply abroad. I didn’t want to lose one year reapplying. There are many people from the US who attended foreign medical schools and now practice medicine in the US. I know of a few doctors who are foreign graduates and they are doing well currently.
(The above paragraph was my thinking when I was applying to medical school. But now, after three years of medical school, I changed my mind about applying to foreign medical schools. If I did not get into an US school, I would do something else instead of medicine.)
With that being said, if you choose to attend a school abroad, be prepared for a more difficult journey.
What to Expect?
The whole curriculum consists of 10 trimesters. It somehow fits into four years. In the first two years, you will spend the first two years abroad, building your medical science foundations. Afterward, you will spend two years in the US in clinical rotations.
Disadvantages of Caribbean Medical Schools
1. Lower Graduation Rate
In the US, over 90% of medical students will graduate and become doctors. In the Caribbean, the graduate rate is as low as 50%.
The drop-out rate is explained in greater detail as I rank the big 4 schools.
2. Lower USMLE Pass Rate
Some Caribbean schools may boast of really nice statistics like an USMLE pass rate of 90% or more. However, according to the First Aid for the USMLE Step I (2010), the pass rate in 2008 for foreign graduates was 77%. So who do I believe? I would choose the latter and the more conservative number.
3. ECFMG Certification
You will have to jump through an extra hurdle as a foreign medical student.
Not only will you have to take the USMLE, you will also need the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduate (ECFMG) certification to be eligible for residency in the US and to practice medicine in many states. However, less than 50% of the people will receive the ECFMG certificate on their first try.
If you are interested, here are the criteria for receiving the certificate.
4. Lower Residency Match Rate
As you can see, the odds not reaching residency is already over 50%. And I’m not even factoring in the drop-out rate before the USMLEs.
If you make it to applying to residencies, most places would rather take US medical school graduates over foreign graduates. The match rate into residency for 2008 was only 52% for foreign graduates compared to 94% for US graduates.
This means that if you want to get into a competitive residency, you will have a much harder time to do so. Many of the foreign graduates go into primary care. Hey, that’s the field I’m planning to go into as well.
You Should Apply If …
- You are rejected from US medical schools.
- You are pressed for time and there is no other option.
- You absolutely must become a doctor.
A risky road is better than no road at all.
Which Schools Should You Choose?
The general consensus for the 4 best Caribbean schools are:
- St. George’s University School of Medicine (SGU)
- American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC)
- Saba University School of Medicine (Saba)
- Ross University School of Medicine (Ross)
They are considered the best because their graduates can practice in all 50 states. If you attend other foreign medical schools, you may not be able to practice in all 50 states.
Which School Is the Best?
So which of the four is the best?
It is hard to tell because there isn’t one source which compares all the schools, like what the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) does for the US allopathic medical schools.
I turned to trusty Google for advice on which of the four is the best. And again, there was no real consensus. Each school has someone praising it. Each school has someone trashing it. After much research, I ranked the top Caribbean schools.
Below, you will find general information about each of the four Caribbean medical schools. Most of the information are from their website, but the inside dirt I had to deep somewhere else for. I standardized the data so it would be easier for comparison.
More About Caribbean Medical Schools
St. George Medical School: Average MCAT, Class Size, and More
This is one of the most popular choice. Find out why. This section includes average student’s MCAT score, admissions, tuition, and more.
AUC Medical School: Average MCAT, Class Size, and More
This is another popular choice. Find out why. This section includes average student’s MCAT score, admissions, tuition, and more.
Saba Medical School: Average MCAT, Class Size, and More
This may be a small school, but it is still a respectable one. This section includes average student’s MCAT score, admissions, tuition, and more.
Ross Medical School: Average MCAT, Class Size, and More
The last of the well-known Caribbean schools. See if this big school is right for you. This section includes average student’s MCAT score, admissions, tuition, and more.
Caribbean Medical Schools Ranking: Which Schools Are Best?
This is a comparison of the Caribbean medical schools. If I was accepted to medical schools in the Caribbean, this is how I would make my decision on which school to go to.
This article is part of the Get into Medical School series. Click on the link if you want more tips and hints about getting accepted into medical school.