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Is it Worth Attending a Caribbean Medical School? What prospective Students Need to Know

Is it Worth Attending a Caribbean Medical School? What prospective Students Need to Know

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If you are considering applying to a Caribbean medical school, your mind must be buzzing with questions and doubts. If you are wondering whether Caribbean medical schools offer a legitimate medical program that would pave your way towards a successful career in the US and beyond, the answer is a resounding YES! Most Caribbean medical schools offer accredited medical programs that are at par with those offered at American or Canadian medical schools. Caribbean medical schools not only meet the most stringent quality and educational standards one would expect from a U.S. and Canadian medical school, but also prepare students to practice clinical rotations in the US, take the USMLE, and match in residency programs in the U.S.


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Why are Caribbean Medical Schools so popular?

Higher acceptance rate

Medical schools in the U.S. and Canada can prove to be highly competitive, making it impossible for a vast majority of aspiring students to get in. On the other hand, Caribbean medical schools have a much higher acceptance rate as compared to their counterparts in the United States, due to their less rigorous guidelines for acceptance, making them an attractive option for students who have faced medical school rejection in their home countries. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the acceptance rate for U.S. medical colleges borders on 40%, while certain Caribbean medical schools have acceptance rates exceeding 60%.

This is because while most medical school programs in the United States and Canada leverage computer-based algorithms that can eliminate highly qualified and competitive applicants based on their MCAT and GPA alone, Caribbean medical schools accept students with lower GPAs and MCA. For instance, the admissions committee at the Windsor University School of medicine tend to evaluate candidates holistically, and considers a student’s shadowing experience, critical judgment and decision making, intellectual and social maturity, life experiences, and volunteer work, in addition to just a set of grades and scores.

While the average GPA for medical school matriculants in the U.S is 3.6, most Caribbean medical schools accept students with a minimum GPA ranging between 2.0 and 3.0, while some do not have a minimum GPA cut-off at all. These medical schools open doors for individuals who lack the grades and test scores to compete, but are still passionate about pursuing medicine.

A chance to Practice in the U.S.

Many, if not all, Caribbean medical schools offer third and fourth-year students a chance to participate in clinical rotations in hospitals and clinics across the United States. Before Caribbean medical students can apply for residency in the U.S, which is the ultimate goal for most medical students, they need to complete clinical rotations for at least two years in that country and learn the ins and outs of how healthcare in the U.S. functions. Luckily, Caribbean medical schools have affiliations and partnerships with U.S. hospitals and healthcare institutions, allowing students to practice medicine in a familiar setting.

For instance, Windsor University Schools of Medicine has established partnerships with numerous hospitals across the U.S., spanning various specialties and regions, enabling our students to work alongside experienced physicians, participate in real patient care, and build professional networks that can go a long way towards securing future residency placements.

Rolling Admissions

Caribbean medical schools offer rolling admissions, providing you with a convenient and flexible option to enroll at three different months throughout the year – January, May and September! With rolling admissions, medical schools evaluate applications as they are received, meaning that students can apply at any time during the admissions cycle. This proves advantageous for prospective students who may have missed traditional application deadlines or decided to pursue medicine later in their academic or professional journey. Instead of waiting for an entire application cycle to apply to medical schools in the U.S and Canada, a medical school aspirant can apply to a Caribbean school immediately. Schools like Windsor University School of Medicine accept applications year-round and aim to provide prompt responses to applicants, allowing for a smoother and more efficient admissions process.

Can I match into a residency program from my Caribbean medical school?

According to the NRMP, the Match rate for U.S. Citizens who are graduates of international medical schools is only 50%. This compares to 94.1% for US graduates. Non-U.S. IMGs also have a tough time matching into desirable programs and specialties, with a match rate of only 40.9%. What makes it worst is that some programs don’t even interview international medical graduates, even those who are U.S. citizens. However, according to data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the overall match rate for IMGs, including graduates from Caribbean medical schools, has been steadily increasing in recent years, reaching over 50% in some specialties, such as in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics. Typically, Caribbean medical school graduates are less likely to get into more competitive fields, such as anesthesiology, neurological surgery, thoracic surgery and plastic surgery. In 2020, a high percentage of Caribbean medical schools matched with an internal or family medicine residency program in the U.S and Canada.

While the numbers may not seem too promising, keep in mind that Caribbean medical graduates who demonstrate exceptional academic performance, clinical skills, and professionalism, can actually match into highly-sought after residency program. Additionally, building a strong residency application with compelling letters of recommendation, relevant research experience, and extracurricular activities can boost your chances of matching successfully into your desired program. While securing a residency position may seem like a tough nut to crack, many Caribbean medical graduates have gone on to have successful careers as practicing physicians in the United States and beyond. In the end, a Harvard student who is a slack off has a much lower chance of entering a top residency than a Caribbean medical school graduate who studied hard and took advantage of every opportunity!

Are medical schools in the Caribbean considered to be an International med school?

Yes, a Caribbean medical school is considered to be an international med school and the MD graduates of Caribbean medical schools are considered to be International Medical Graduates (IMGs). An IMG from the Caribbean can be a US citizen or can be from another country. Both are considered an IMG.

Are Caribbean Medical Schools accredited?

Medical schools in the United States and Canada are nationally accredited by the LCME (Liason Committee on Medical Education). LCME accreditation makes the students of a medical school automatically eligible to take the USMLE and enter residencies approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). However, since LCME doesn’t offer accreditation for any medical school outside the US and Canada, including Caribbean Medical schools, does this mean that medical schools in the Caribbean are not recognized in the U.S.?

Fret not! Starting 2024, only graduates of foreign medical schools accredited by agencies with WFME Recognition Status will be able to match into Residency programs in the United States. For Caribbean medical schools, only three accrediting agencies meet WFME’s internationally-accepted criteria for accreditation: The Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), the Accreditation Commission on Colleges of Medicine (ACCM), and the Accreditation Organization of the Netherland and Flanders. To make the most of your medical school journey, make sure to select a Caribbean medical school like WUSOM that has received the highest accreditation status. Windsor University school of medicine is accredited by CAAM-HP.

Is a medical degree from another country valid in the US?

While the US recognizes international degrees, IMGs have to fulfill a lot of requirements before they are eligible to apply for a residency in the United States. As a rule of thumb, International medical graduates must be ECFMG certified in order to apply for residency and/or fellowship in the United States. Once International medical graduates obtain the ECFMG certification (Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates), they can apply for residency programs of their choosing in the US. Completing residency training and subsequentially passing the board examinations makes you fully qualified to practice medicine in the US, just like students who have graduated from American and Canadian medical schools. Thankfully, the Windsor University school of Medicine meets ECFMG requirements, which means our graduates are eligible for ECFMG certification, can take the USMLE step 1 and step 2, and apply for residencies in the U.S.

Is the curriculum and academic rigor easier at a Caribbean medical school?

Since Caribbean schools are the easiest to “get” into, most students make the mistake of believing that their curriculum is also less challenging. However, the truth is that the curriculum of the best Caribbean medical schools is at par, or sometimes even more rigorous, than that of a US medical school.  Just like in the US, Caribbean medical students spend the first two years of medical school in didactic classes and lab-based learning, as well as preparing for the USMLE.  In fact, students of Caribbean or international school need to score higher on the USMLEs to compete in residency programs with the US medical students. Most Caribbean medical students prepare their students to score well enough to obtain competitive residencies. While the length and organization of the pre-clinical courses may vary from college to college, most pre-clinical courses offered at Caribbean medical schools mirror those of the best US. Medical schools.

Do Caribbean Medical Schools provide the same opportunities as US based medical schools?

Caribbean medical schools open doors for individuals to obtain a quality medical education and pursue enviable careers in medicine. However, there are some differences between Caribbean medical schools and US-based medical schools in terms of opportunities and considerations for students. For instance, medical schools in the United States may offer more extensive clinical training opportunities due to their access to a wide range of healthcare facilities and resources. Caribbean medical schools may have clinical training sites, but the availability and quality of these sites can vary. Similarly, US-based medical schools provide stronger networking opportunities due to their connections with healthcare institutions, alumni networks, and professional organizations within the United States. However, Caribbean medical schools may still provide networking opportunities through alumni connections and affiliations with hospitals and healthcare organizations. In the end, all that matters is that you do your due diligence in selecting the best Caribbean medical school that helps you fulfill your dream of becoming a successful physician!

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