Getting into medical school is no cakewalk. To be competitive, you must have a high GPA, a strong MCAT score, and quality extracurricular activities. In 2011, only 46% of all medical school applicants obtained admissions into a US medical school (MD). With the competition brutal and only growing, students are looking to Caribbean medical schools to serve as a viable alternative.
Caribbean medical schools are prominent for giving U.S. students a chance to study medicine offshore. Most Caribbean medical students plan to complete residency in the States after attending a Caribbean medical school. It is no secret that Caribbean medical schools are attractive because of its relaxed admission requirements. An entering class at the “best” medical school in the Caribbean has an average undergraduate GPA of approximately 3.3 or 3.4. It is also common for Caribbean medical schools to accept applicants with GPAs hovering around 3. In comparison, an entering class at the “worst” US medical school has an average undergraduate GPA of approximately 3.5.
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Though Caribbean medical schools can seem like a dream come true, there is unfortunately a downside. Almost all US medical school graduates successfully become physicians in the United States; the same cannot be said for Caribbean medical school graduates. While it is possible for a Caribbean medical school graduate to become a US physician, it is less likely. There are two main steps that all prospective doctors must pass and complete before they can be licensed physicians: Pass the USMLE and complete a residency program. Caribbean medical schools are notorious for graduating students who either fail the USMLE or fail to obtain US residency positions.
There is much debate on why this is the case. Some argue that the curriculum of Caribbean medical schools is weak; others argue that the academic abilities of students at Caribbean medical schools are weak. Either way, students need to give full due diligence before they choose to attend a particular Caribbean medical school. They should research the USMLE pass rates and the residency placement rates to determine whether attending a certain medical school is wise. The worst case scenario would be to graduate from a Caribbean medical school, but fail to become a physician; it would be a waste of tens of thousands of dollars and years of precious time.
It is important to note that Caribbean medical schools are a for-profit business. Economics tells us that new schools will form as long as the industry stays profitable. Currently, there are about 60 Caribbean medical schools. Some of them have respectable reputations while others are packed with controversies. There are some that are famous for producing physicians, and others that are notorious for causing foreclosures. It is the responsibility of each prospective student to research the schools to see if it is the right fit.
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The following schools have proven that they are capable of training students to become physicians in the United States. Many argue that they are the best medical schools in the Caribbean. They are collectively referred to as the “Big Four” of Caribbean medical schools. The list is in no particular order.
St. George’s University is located on the island of Grenada in the British West Indies. The school has been training physicians in the US for over 35 years.
Ross University makes its home on the island of Barbados. The school was founded in 1978 and has been training physicians ever since.
American University of the Caribbean (AUC), was founded in 1978. It is located in the village of Cupecoy on St. Maarten.
Saba University makes its home on the island of Saba. It has been producing North American physicians since 1989.
Though there are many more Caribbean medical schools, there is a reason why these are referred to as the “Big Four.” They have a proven success record of placing graduates in US residencies and eventually making them into physicians. If you believe that you should go to medical school offshore, the best place to start your research is to look at the best medicals schools in the Caribbean.