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.

What Drives you to Keep on Going in Medical School

I’m in my fourth year of medical school; I recently took a small vacation trip. On my trip I reminisce on how far I have come. With my parent’s prayers and God’s blessings I was able to overcome the challenges that I faced.

What I learned from my experiences is that thinking about what motivated you in the beginning and holding on to that thought helps. I’m a strong believer of God and that kept me going just by believing in him and knowing that with time things will get easier, and it did.

Don’t Seclude Yourself
Whenever you get a chance, try to be around people. Don’t think that you will loose study time if you take a break to hang with few friends. If you isolate yourself then you will actually loose study time in the long run. The seclusion will get to you and it will slow you down while you study. Instead of helping you studying and keeping you going, seclusion will diminish your momentum of studying. And let’s face it, it takes a while to really study this USMLE stuff and we don’t want anything to stop the study mood.

Always talk about the next step. Talking to others about your goals help a lot. When you talk to others, you are reminded of why you chose this field and it should help you further in your goals.

Analysis of Different Caribbean Medical Schools

One of my friends is considering to go to a Caribbean medical school.  He is a business major with concentration in finance so he loves to analyze numbers in different applications.  He sent me this last night to compare and contrast the different accredited Caribbean medical schools that is worth looking into.  When I looked at the chart I knew he is thinking long and hard of the long term costs and benefits. He went to each school’s website and looked into which school is approved in which states.  I thought this is an interesting find and it would very useful for prospective medical students who are considering going to a Caribbean medical school; Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara is actually not located in the Caribbean, it’s located in Mexico.

The chart involves the factors the differentiates one school from another including:

  1. FAFSA eligibility and school code
  2. OSAP (Ontario Assistance Student Program)
  3. Establishment dates for each school
  4. Approval for the states of NY, CA, TX, and FL.
  5. MCAT requirements
  6. Basic Science cost, as of January 2012
  7. Clinical Science cost, as of January 2012
  8. The foreign country/island each school is located at
  9. And finally the estimated total cost, minus the junk fees, for each school

In the following school list, I put a * next to the so called “big four” medical schools which medical students talk about on forums.  The big four Caribbean medical schools are supposed to be approved in all 50 states, but according to the chart Saba is not.

American University of Antigua
American University of the Caribbean*
Atlantic University School of Medicine
Medical University of the Americas
Ross University School of Medicine*
Saba School of Medicine*
Spartan Health Sciences University School of Medicine
St. George’s University*
St. James School of Medicine Bonaire
St. Matthews School of Medicine
Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara School of Medicine Mexico
University of Health Sciences Antigua
University of Medicine and Health Sciences St. Kitts (UMHS)
Windsor School of Medicine
Xavier School of Medicine Aruba

(Click on the chart to enlarge)

Obviously it took him a while to do this, he has the time that I don’t so I give him, Sean, the credit. Also if you liked this post and find it helpful then please Google+ it and Tweet it, thanks.