There has been a lot of talk about the status of the St. James School of Medicine’s survival. Let me make it clear to you that the school is not shutting down, nor is it in the process of shutting down. Readers of this site questioned what was happening and I had no answer to give them because I didn’t know anything. But now I do know what’s happening and I will lay it out.
Right now, the accreditation of the Bonaire campus is extended for another 5 years supposedly. Apparently, the Bonaire campus education quality must be in parallel with Dutch education standards and that’s where the problem started. So, SJSM has to improve the quality of education.
I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, the ground reality is if Bonaire ever lost the Dutch accreditation then Bonaire campus will close and the SJSM accreditation will be dependent on the Anguilla campus. Unfortunately, for the Bonaire students who already registered with the ECFMG for USMLE Step 1, SJSM will mostly likely transfer everything from the Anguilla campus and it will show “transfer” on your transcript. If you didn’t register yet with the ECFMG then you should be good, but don’t take my word for it.
Currently, SJSM have cleared anything and everything that stood in the way of the Bonaire campus’s accreditation so you don’t need to worry. The best thing is to call SJSM’s main office and ask them what happened in detail.
Bottom like is, SJSM Bonaire still has IMED accreditation and it will continue to run.
Here is the letter the students received from the main office:
We are pleased to announce our IMED listing issue has been RESOLVED
Over the past months we have been working closely with the Dutch Government regarding the school’s accreditation.
We have been advised that these discussions have been successful and ourIMED listing is secure. We are now waiting for the official extension notification documentation which is due shortly.
The extension means SJSM Bonaire will continue to operate as normal with the support of the Dutch government and local Bonaire administration. Our students can therefore focus on their medical studies with certainty.
Saint James School of Medicine – Bonaire
A year from today I was on the plane back to the United States of America. I was one of the happiest and relived persons among my classmates. I only had 4 hours of sleep that day because of all the time I spent having fun the night before and packing to leave. The day before we had the white coat ceremony and saying goodbye to everyone who I saw for 16 months took time. Since I have been back, I developed regrets from my experience in Bonaire. I know it’s been a year but I still think about the little good times I had and if I knew then what I know now I would make the best of my stay in Bonaire.
I didn’t get out as much. I was too worried about getting A’s in Bonaire, but at the end of the day grades in Bonaire didn’t matter, it was as if you passed or not.
I didn’t make enough friends. Living in Bonaire is a one in a lifetime experience and you learn a lot when you intermix with other people of different backgrounds.
I didn’t enjoy the island. The island is one of a kind, and there are somethings on the island that you will not find anywhere else in the world. If you missed out all the fun you had on the island then you should also regret it.
I advise my readers to learn from my regrets and enjoy your time in Bonaire so you don’t have the same regrets as me. I know studying medicine is a serious matter, but life is short and enjoy as much as you can. You have to sacrifice at least 7 years to become a practicing physician in the US, and so take every opportunity you can get to have fun.
This is actually one of the forgotten stories of my time in Bonaire. Sometimes I don’t realize how many times I mentioned something because of so many blog posts that I have written. As you know the Bonairians will try to squeeze every cent out of you if you have an American or Canadian passport. Trust me when I tell you, the vast majority of Bonairians are not your friends. Only a small handful of Bonairians are good people, but that can be said for any group of people, even in America. However, in Bonaire, if you are an American or Canadian citizen you are venerable. The native Bonarians fear the European Dutch, not the Americans, surprising I know…j/k. And when they see that you are a white person, they think you are loaded with cash. My landlords are very unsympathetic, they know I’m a venerable foreign student and even then they asked me to pay extra rent money when I wasn’t staying for the entire month. So for the last month I left for a friend’s house and my landlords couldn’t find anyone to replace me for that month; sucks for them, they could’ve made some money instead of no money.
The Bonaire government will charge you over $40 in exit tax when you leave the country. So someone told me that if you’re still going to USA or Canada through local flights then tell them you are going to Aruba or Curacao or whichever part of the Netherlands island your connecting to. By doing so you avoid paying so much and you just have to pay less than $10 in local tax. I did and it worked.
I took Insel Air to Curacao and trust me when I say this; that airline is run by idiots. Insel Air left my luggage in Bonaire and the officials standing around didn’t know what to do. So I had to go and ask around to different officials in what do to. I had to call back and forth until I found an official who spoke English. I filled out a lost luggage form and got their office number, cell phone number, their manager’s number, just enough numbers for me call constantly to drive them insane. I went to American Airlines in Curacao and told them what happened and they just assured me that they’ll do whatever they can to get it. Unfortunately the luggage wasn’t lost in a domestic USA flight; otherwise the airline who lost it would just send me a check in the mail.
Two days later after I got back home I called the non-English speaking official in Curacao and understood his broken English enough to confirm that my luggage came at my local airport. And yes I communicated well with him because I had Google Translate right in front of me when replied back in Spanish to the guy. I went to my home State’s airport and apparently no available airport official could help me, what a surprise. I made a mistake of asking a TSA officer of where to go, those idiots don’t know much, except of how to use their authority to feel on women passengers; I’m kidding. Luckily I found an official of the airline, which was supposed to bring my luggage, and we resolved things out after a while. The problem was that the Curacao airport official gave me 6 out of the 8 tracking numbers over the phone; and the missing two tracking numbers were two zeros, go figure. Anyways, I was taken to a back room where a lot of lost luggages were and I found my luggages half beaten up. So, I avoided paying luggage fees to the airline and I avoided paying extra money to the Bonaire government. I don’t feel guilty about it because Bonaire government charged me on this and that, even to get my deposit back from immigration office; and I know all SJSM would’ve done the same. At the end everything worked out well, except for the half-beaten up luggages which cost me over $300.
By the way, this happened when I returned to USA last December.