Doctors are always needed in America and with the baby boomers retiring in the next decade, there will be a shortage of 80,000 doctors. Currently there is less an a million physicians in America so, that leaves 1 doctor for 3 patients on average. The medical field is the most competitive professional field. Medical schools can only take so many and that’s why they choose the best of the best. So if you get rejected what’s the alternative? The alternative is an off-shore medical school, in the Caribbean.
Caribbean medical schools have become a big destination for Americans and Canadians who seek a medical degree and could not get admitted to an American or Canadian medical school. In my opinion these off-shore medical schools are a second chance for the ultimate goal, and that is the chance to practice medicine in the United States or Canada. Most students prefer practicing in America so, for the rest of the article we’ll stay with American requirements with little mention of Canada.
The types of students who go to Caribbean schools have their personal reasons of why they don’t have good GPAs as undergrads, but basically they want a second chance to prove themselves. In a Caribbean school, their passion of becoming a doctor is tested rigorously; they have to go through many challenges in order to reach their goal of being an MD. Since they go to a Caribbean school, they have to study harder than US medical students because the Caribbean school teachers in will not spoon feed them.
The off-shore medical schools include the big three schools: St. George School of Medicine, Ross University School of Medicine, and American Caribbean University School of Medicine. Other smaller medical schools include: St. Mathews University School of Medicine, St. James School of Medicine, University of Medicine and Health Sciences. There are many more schools but too many to name. Some of the schools listed have multiple campuses in more than one country. The big three are the most expensive medical schools with tuition as much as $49,000 per semester, which is the same as a private US medical school. The higher the tuition the more accreditation the school has. But some schools have all the accreditations and their tuition fees are not that high. Sometimes it’s cheaper to go to a Caribbean medical school than to go to a US medical school because there will be less amount of loans to pay.
Anyone who goes to an off-shore medical school can get a descent residency in the United States. An IMG (international medical graduate) takes the USMLE tests and does rotations side-by-side with students from US medical schools.
Over the recent years Caribbean medical schools has become popular for lower standards to admit students; lower standards include lower minimum GPA requirements, MCAT scores, no research, and less hours of volunteering. Some medical schools don’t even require an MCAT score to admit a student to their school if they have a high number of volunteering hours or a descent GPA. However students are required to take the pre-medical pre-requisites classes in order to start the MD program. The pre-requisite classes are also required for admissions to US medical schools.
The pre-requisite pre-medical classes include:
General Chemistry (1 Year with Lab)
General Biology (1 Year with Lab)
Organic Chemistry (1 Year with Lab)
Physics (1 Year with Lab)
English (at least 6 credit hours)
Math (Calculus I)
The process of gaining a medical degree is the same in all off-shore schools in the Caribbean, but they are slightly different from US medical schools. The student takes 16 months doing basic science courses off-shore and then he/she will go back to the US and study for the USMLE Step 1. Some schools make it mandatory for students to take their 5th semester/Kaplan course to prepare for the USMLE. And other schools give their students choices of taking Kaplan/Falcon courses or studying without taking the courses. After passing the Step 1, the students are assigned to a US hospital affiliated with the school the students are from. Canadian students can do their rotations in Canada but they can only do 14-weeks rotations in each province. Canada is not the best place for IMGs, according to what I read, but I can be wrong. At the end of the 3rd year or at the beginning of the 4th year, students are advised to begin to apply for residency in their field of interest. All students have to first choose between family medicine and internal medicine. Internal Medicine has more choices of specialties than family practice; therefore, most medical graduates from Caribbean and US medical schools go into internal medicine. After 2 years of rotations in an affiliated hospital, the medical student sits for the USMLE Step 2. USMLE Step 2 has two parts now, the CS and CK, which are taken separately. After passing the Step 2, the Caribbean medical school gives the student his/her MD degree. The entire MD program takes about 3.5 years to 4 years to complete.
So do you want to save at least $100,000? Do you want avoid the long wait to get into medical school? Do you want to a second chance? If all the answers to these questions are yes then I suggest you get into a Caribbean school to fulfill your dream of becoming a doctor.