Caribbean Medical Schools
Caribbean medical schools are a good alternative to medical schools in the United States.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to choosing a Caribbean school:
- Competition. Medical schools in the Caribbean are generally less competitive than US medical schools. This means that if your MCAT or GPA wasn't quite what you were hoping, a Caribbean school may still allow you to achieve your dream of becoming a doctor
- Cost. In general, the cost of Caribbean medical schools is far less than US medical school. Tuition ranges in the $15-17,000 range, compared to the $30-50,000 of most US medical schools. Also, cost of living in the Caribbean is significantly lower. This makes medical school in the Caribbean an economical choice.
- Rolling admissions. Some schools, such as Ross University (Ross Medical School), have rolling admissions, meaning that they accept applicants throughout the year for each semester until each seat is filled. So, no hard and fast application deadlines.
Photo courtesty of TKrueger
Pros or Cons
- Rotations in USA. This could be seen as a pro or a con, but you will do your clinical rotations during your 3rd and 4th year at different schools in the United States. While this will give you good clinical experience, there is definitely an increased cost for traveling during this time and little stability of where you will be living. So, make this a consideration when applying to medical school in the Caribbean.
- Most Caribbean graduates go into primary care. If this is what you are interested in, this would be a pro. If you are interested in going into a more competitive field (radiation oncology, dermatology, orthopaedic surgery, etc.), it will be more difficult to match coming from a Caribbean medical school. To view the residency match results from Ross Medical School for this year, click here.
- Not all rotations qualify for all residencies. I worked with a Ross Medical School graduate who was repeating her pediatrics rotation. She had already gone through an internal medicine residency program (three years of training after medical school) and had been accepted to a GI fellowship (gastroenterology). However, her fellowship did not recognize her pediatrics rotation since it was done through Ross Medical School and she had to repeat the rotation. This may have been a rare case, but it can happen. So, be aware that there may be credentialing issues in transferring from Caribbean medical schools to U.S. residency training programs.
- More difficult to match into competitive residencies. US medical school graduates are given top priority when residency programs are choosing students. That's just the way it is and anyone that tells you differently is selling something :). As a graduate from one of the medical schools in the Caribbean, you are already at a disadvantage in that respect. The match statistics for Ross University are listed above. Notice that they are mainly primary care specialties. UCLA's match list for 2011 includes specialties in radiation oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, orthopaedic surgery and otolaryngology. No graduates from Ross Medical school matched in any of these specialties. For information about specialties and their relative competitiveness, click here . You can choose a specialty in the top right corner. This doesn't mean that if you go to a Caribbean medical school you won't match into something competitive. It does happen. Just be aware that it will probably take more work than if you went to a US medical school. For more about choosing your best medical school, click here.
- Lower pass rates on USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS. First-time pass rates on USMLE Step 1 range from 19% to 84%. This means that you will likely have to study harder to pass and do well on these exams. I'm not sure why Caribbean medical schools have a lower pass rate, but make sure you are aware of this. Step 1 is particularly important for matching into the residency of your choice. Make sure you ask your medical schools in the Caribbean what their pass rate is when you are applying to schools. For the paper that addresses this and has the statistics, click here.
- Caribbean medical schools are a great option if you are planning on going into primary care and value a lower cost medical school. If you want to practice medicine in a more competitive field, a US medical school is probably a better option. So, think carefully and do your research about medical schools in the Caribbean before diving in!
Photo courtesty of TKrueger
To get a feel for what it's really like at one of these schools, check out this blog by a current Caribbean medical student.
Getting Professional Help
For Caribbean medical schools or medical schools in the US, admissions coaching can be helpful in your quest for medical school acceptance. This site is designed to help you get into the school of your choice. Check out my admissions page for understanding the admissions process.
Also check out my eBook on how to prepare yourself so that you can get into the school of your choice.
Some students find it useful to employ a service to help them with getting into medical school. There are many companies that will help you with this, but my recommendation is MedSchoolCoach.
MedSchoolCoach is run by doctors with experience on admissions committees. This makes a big difference as many companies are run by business people or others without this essential experience. They also have an excellent track record, placing 100% of students in an MD or DO program and 85% in an MD program for those who sign up for their gold package. They also offer help with personal statements , interviews and help on choosing which schools to apply to. They are the company I recommend.
I also like them because their prices are very affordable compared to other companies you could choose. Also, click here for current discounts from MedSchoolCoach. Remember, about 60% of applicants are not accepted to any medical school! Don't be one of the 60%! The cost of reapplying could easily be as much as getting help the first time around to help you get accepted. You can also specifically request that I work with you on your application if you wish. I served on the UCLA admissions and work particularly with essays, AMCAS applications, general advising, and have experience with California and Texas schools. I'd be happy to help you get into the school of your choice! Click here to visit MedSchoolCoach
List of Caribbean Medical Schools
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