Challenges in Applying for Residencies for Caribbean Medical Students

The following was an email from a blog reader.  I think the reply I gave should answer questions for some prospective students.

I just wanted to know if you could tell me the challenges applying for residency that come with being a caribbean student. I know the obvious issues but what can you do to get around it besides having a good score?


Unless you graduate from the offshore schools of Ross University, St. George University, or American University of the Caribbean, you may run into a good amount of obstacles to gain residency. Most Caribbean medical schools are not approved in all 50 states. My school Saint James School of Medicine, is about to reach 15 years in which the school will apply to big states like Texas and Florida for licensing. Usually it’s a case-by-case basis for license approval in those states. Luckily my school has not been disapproved in any states. A good number of states follow the California approval list and so some Caribbean medical schools may not be approved.

Another issue is if you are Canadian then some program will not accept you unless you are also a US citizen or a US green card holder. Some residency programs will not sponsor visas for foreign grads, that’s where US citizens who went to offshore schools have the advantage.

At the end of the day, the Step 1 and Step 2 CK scores matter. Some programs look at your Step 1 score and some programs look at your Step 2 CK score, and others may look at both. So it’s a good idea to score high in both tests with Step 2 CK score being higher than Step 1 score.

Another issue could be your letters of recommendation. Some schools have good rotation posts in which students get good LORs but others may not so it depends on the school and what rotation spots they have.

Also, with more American medical schools being built and more American medical grads are applying to primary care, IMGs will have high competition since residency spots have not increased significantly. Therefore, it’s better to go to a US med school, the second option would be to attend the top three Caribbean medical schools which I listed: Ross, AUC, and SGU.