Pre-med 101: Are Caribbean Medical Schools bad?
Getting into Medical School is hard, in fact only about 40% of applicants get accepted into American medical schools each year. Those who don’t get in are left without options or to apply again the next year. That’s where Caribbean medical schools can come into the picture. But are Caribbean medical schools bad? There are a lot of myths about them and also a lot of stigma surrounding them. Hopefully by the end of this article some of those myths and stigma surrounding them. Let’s jump right into this!
Myths about Caribbean Medical Schools:
- Caribbean medical schools aren’t as good as American medical schools
- You cannot get an MD and practice as a physician in America
Myth #1: Caribbean medical schools aren’t as good as American medical schools
The first myth about Caribbean medical schools not being as good as American medical schools has some truth to it, but is not true across the board. While it is true that there are many lower quality Caribbean medical schools out there that you should avoid, there are several Caribbean medical schools that provide a medical education that is around on par with those of American medical schools. Caribbean medical schools will not hold your hand during medical school and are not an easy path to becoming a physician. They are second chances for dedicated and hardworking students who are determined to put in the work to become a physician. Caribbean medical schools such as Ross follow a basic science curriculum similar to those of American medical schools and even allow you to do your clinicals in the US. At the end of the day you are going to get a high-quality education at any good Caribbean medical school, just be prepared to work for it.
Myth #2: You cannot get an MD and practice as a physician in America
Another common myth is that you cannot get an MD from a Caribbean school and you can’t practice in America. This is definitely not the case. Caribbean medical schools will give you the exact same MD behind your name as any American medical school. The curriculum is very similar to those of American medical schools. You have to do basic sciences, clinical rotations, and take the USMLE. Some of the Caribbean medical schools such as Ross allow you to do your clinical rotations in American hospitals. At the end of the day you will receive your MD and be able to practice as a physician just like your American medical school counterparts. No one will be able to tell the difference between an MD obtained from an American medical school and a Caribbean medical school.
“Truths” about Caribbean medical schools
Now that we have debunked a few myths, lets talk about some of the “truths” about Caribbean medical school. The main two are that it is easier to get accepted into a Caribbean medical school and it is often harder to place into competitive residencies.
Caribbean medical schools let in a far higher percentage of applicants than American medical schools. This is often because they usually don’t use your metrics as the main qualifier for acceptance. This is good for students who have a low GPA or low MCAT score as this allows them a second chance at getting into medical school. Because the Caribbean medical schools don’t value these metrics as much, they take a look at you in a more holistic way. So students who demonstrate they really want to be doctors through other aspects of their application such as extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, clinical experience, shadowing, etc. are the ones who often get accepted into the Caribbean medical school.
The class sizes of Caribbean medical schools (Avg. class size of around 400-600 students) are often around two to three times that of American medical schools (Avg. class size of around 150 students). This also helps contribute to it being easier to get accepted into a Caribbean medical school. While it is easier to get accepted into a Caribbean medical school, that does not mean it will be easier during medical school. Caribbean medical schools are just as hard as American medical schools in many ways. They will not hold your hand and help you through medical school, you must be a very self-motivated student to succeed in a Caribbean school. Although the class size starts off much higher than those in American medical school that number often dwindles down as students are weeded out during the program. The main point I am trying to make is: Even though it is easier to get accepted into a Caribbean medical school, don’t think it is an easy path to becoming a doctor. You will still have to put in the work and effort to get that MD.
The next thing to know about going to a Caribbean medical school is that students often have a harder time getting into competitive residencies. Caribbean medical schools are known for having a lower match rate for residencies. If you want to be a heart surgeon or plastic surgeon you will have a hard time getting a residency from a Caribbean medical school. But if you just want to be a doctor of any kind then you still have hope at a Caribbean medical school. Know also that Caribbean schools in general have a lower match rate than American medical schools across the board. Make sure to check the match rate for the schools you are applying to. Take your time to learn about how well that school does at placing you into residencies.
Fun fact: The doctor I shadowed graduated from the Caribbean medical school, Ross. He is a successful Nephrologist who is soon to become partner for the practice he works at. Every day I shadowed him he was highly respected by all of his colleagues and patients. He always told me that no one cares about where you went to medical school at the end of the day. That was the truth as he was every bit as good of a doctor as anyone else at the hospital. So don’t think that going to a Caribbean school will be something that will haunt you. It can be a great opportunity if you make the most out of it.
What are considered the top Caribbean medical school?
In general, there are four Caribbean medical schools that are considered the best. These are:
There are other good Caribbean medical schools, however, these would be the better ones that you want to apply to. Make sure to thoroughly check each school you are applying to before sending in the application.
In conclusion, Caribbean medical schools can be a great back up plan for students who couldn’t get accepted into an American medical school. But don’t expect the Caribbean medical school to be an easy path to becoming a physician, they make you work just as hard as the American medical schools. The top Caribbean medical school will provide its students a high-quality education that mimics what one will get from an American medical school. The major downside of going to a Caribbean medical school is the lower match rate for residencies than American medical schools. However if you are a strong self-motivated student, at the end of the day you will get your MD and be able to practice as a physician in America.
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