Taking Medical School Memoirs to the Next Level

I never imagined this blog would go as far it has gone with its clean content without exhibiting pictures of booty and cleavage. In terms of popularity I heard it got very popular among SJSM students who go to the Bonaire campus, especially those who are prospective students. Apparently this blog answers a lot of questions to students who can’t find the information they’re looking for anywhere else. If you like this blog or if it’s been helpful for you then please spread the word to your buddies who are thinking about coming to the Bonaire campus of SJSM.  I’ll have more info on Clinical Clerkships once that time comes around.

I also found out that the Saint James School of Medicine’s official blog has linked to this blog.  SJSM not only linked this site from their main site, but they also follow this site on Twitter.

There are other blogs written by SJSM students: Southern Doc: Caribbean Style, Life of a Medical Student, Prostudent4life (Anguilla campus), and MD Odyssey. Benji Ho, another Caribbean medical student who blogs, attends American University of the Caribbean, and it was he who found out about all the SJSM blogs and listed them on his site. To my surprise he recommends my blog to his readers in regards of SJSM; thanks Benji.

What’s the Plan

Follow via Twitter

I plan to register a domain for this blog. Yes, you read it right a “.com” for Medical School Memoirs. I haven’t quite gotten a solid decision on the name yet, but I got my choices of domain names. I want a domain name which is simple and easy to remember and it would be a general name on medical school and/or medicine as a whole. I don’t quite know when to register for it though; may be after I take Step 1 or perhaps sometime before during my break. Let’s see how it goes so far.  It only takes 2 minutes to register a domain and a wait of 48 hours, and another 2 minutes to activate the domain and link it to this blog.

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SJSM Blog Added on 06/12/2011
A Piece of Mind (SJSM Anguilla Blog)

Q&A from a Prospective Medical Student

These questions were emailed to me by a prospective medical student.  I think it’s far more beneficial  for everyone if I made it public.  I’m going to answer them to the best of my abilities from what the instructor told me while I was studying in Bonaire.  I would not know if there were any new changes.  The email I received is in black bold and my answer is in maroon red.


I came across your blog “Medical School Memoirs” and found it really interesting! Thanks! I got a lot of useful information regarding the school. I am interested in attending the school and I wanted to ask a current student some questions to help me finalize my decision.

I read your post regarding Bonaire becoming part of the Netherlands.

So did SJSM finally become accredited by the Netherlands?

I’m not sure about Netherlands, I would ask the SJSM main office about that. But us AICM students can still register for the USMLE Step 1 and a lot of graduating students got residency this year so the school is accredited.

If so does that mean students can practice medicine in the Netherlands as well? If it isn’t NVAO approved does it mean it gets taken of the IMED listing?

That would be the case but SJSM is in favor of the Dutch government since it’s established very well. Initially there were two medical schools in Bonaire, one is Xavier Medical School and the other is SJSM. Xavier Medical School was told to leave and SJSM was offered free land to build a new campus in Bonaire by the Dutch government. Research projects were added to the curriculum and to gain further accreditation.

Do you think the school provides enough equipment for the student to do well such as microcopes etc?

The school has a lot of microscopes but they are collecting dusts because it’s far convenient to project the Histology slides on the projector. In Histology class in MD1 we use the projectors but in Pathology II Lab in MD4 the instructor does get the students to use the microscopes.

Is there a fully functioning library? Are there good quality journals?

SJSM paid for a hug online science journal subscription. I still haven’t used it because I haven’t started my Clinical research yet. As for in Bonaire, the library is small but they were expanding while I was there.

Do you understand the professors?

That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? Most of the teachers are from India and they have the Kwik-E-Mart accent. First week it is difficult; however, with time you start to understand the teachers. One thing I noticed among these teachers is that instead of saying “muscles” they pronounced it as “muzles”. And the embryology teacher says “jygote” instead of “zygote”, which is the stage when the male and female gametes fuse during fertilization for those who don’t know.

Wifi/broadband internet?

Yes there is Wifi-Brodband internet in both the new and old campus. I tested the speed the highest I’ve got from the library was 14+ Mbps. Which is fast enough to stream High-Definition movies, not that you should do that since you got a lot of studying to do while you’re there.

Gym/Recreational facilities?
You get what you paid for, and with $5,000/semester for basic sciences in Bonaire, it will not get you that. However there is a gym right across the street with $20 sign up free and first month and $6/month after the first month. However, the equipment is old and rusty but it does get the job done. There is a premium gym, located a 5 minutes walk from the school, and it’s $60/month.


No, there is no cafeteria but there are shops all around the old campus to get something to eat. However, I can’t say the same for the new campus, it’s near 1000 steps landmark near the water and there are no stores to get something to eat. The MD1s and MD2s who attend class in the new campus usually take food from home.

Are lectures taught with diverse multimedia?
Lectures are taught in a typical time-consuming manner with PowerPoint slides. But for the most part those lectures hardly taught me anything when I was there. And I can say the same for more than half of my class. Some teachers just read of the slides which was a waste of our time. So what I did was watch Kaplan Medical videos while the teachers talk.

Is it normal for the school to ask for $1000 deposit in a short period of time?

I paid $1000 to reserve my seat so everyone has to do it, and I started in the Fall of 2009. As for it being normal, no it’s not normal; however, keep in mind that SJSM is a “for-profit” school so each seat is valuable for the school to make a profit.

How is the student population like?

The student population is very diverse. Every one is either American or Canadian but they’re mother countries are elsewhere in the world. I would say 40% of the student body are of Indian subcontinent origin, while the rest of the student population are from Eastern Asia, Poland, Africa, South America.
Dr2016 from ValueMD.com states that
SJSM is a non-profit medical school; the only one in the Caribbean actually. And, it is not unusual to require a seat deposit for medical school. Most U.S. schools require the same; however, not as immediate, unless, you are accepted late in the process.

I hope this helps in making your decision.


USMLE Step 1 oh USMLE Step 1

The USMLE Step 1 is all you can think of in the months after AICM and the time before clinical clerkships because that’s all you should be thinking of. To get prepared I basically asked over 13 medical students who are doing rotations and another 3 students who were applying for residency at the hospital I did my AICM at. I asked one question to all of them and that was “how did you study for Step 1”. Now, several times I did ask how long they studied but that’s not as important because some students study longer than others. The important factors to look for when these senior students answer were what tools they used to study for Step 1.

Don’t be shy about asking them about Step 1 because 99.9% of the time they will be more than happy to tell you about their study plans and experiences. If you are in a room with them waiting for the doctor, then kick off a non-academic conversation such as sports or cars and work your way to the Step 1 conversation; that’s what I did. But sports or cars is what I asked regarding guys, for the girls I asked them what school they came from because SJSM students are not the only ones doing clerkship in that hospital. I got what I wanted because I knew what I was looking for and that’s what you have to do. Becoming a doctor is not an easy process; one has to be fast and cunning in order to reach his/her goals.

I also got advice from a Kaplan tutor, who apparently got 99s on both USMLE Step 1 and Step 2. He basically confirmed what the rotation students told me and he summed it up in a easier study plan. I wish I can tell you what they told me but I have to apply it first to see if it works then I’ll write about it.

However, one really good advice I can tell you is, start studying for Step 1 from MD4. I don’t know much about Anguilla campus, but in Bonaire MD4 is less difficult than MD3 because Pharmacology is done in MD3. During MD4 semester spend more time reviewing for Step 1 than studying for that class notes.

Keep in mind, PDI class in MD4 will have everything you need to get prepared for clinical clerkships. Dr. P’s taught well in PDI and they went so well with AICM rotations.

Also if you haven’t done so get the First Aid for USMLE Step 1 2011; it’s what every student uses to get a reference of what will be on the test.