About fifty years ago, medical schools that catered mostly to American students who were having difficulty getting accepted to a medical school in the United States began opening across the Caribbean. Now with over 60 Caribbean medical schools, these mostly “for-profit” institutions attract applicants from all over the world.
When considering a Caribbean medical school, make sure the school meets the functional and structural standards for medical education. Caribbean medical schools are accredited by the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP). Accreditation is a rigorous peer review process, which examines all aspects of each school’s medical educational program.
The CAAM-HP’s goal is to certify schools that operate at the highest levels and meet appropriate national and international standards for educational quality. Students of properly accredited Caribbean medical schools enjoy the similar privileges as students of medical schools in the United States and Canada. Nonetheless, it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of choosing an alternative route.
Caribbean Medical Schools May Be More Accepting
Admissions standards at Caribbean schools tend to be more lax and gaining acceptance may not even require submitting Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores. That’s because many of the Caribbean med schools still exist to provide students with subpar GPA and MCAT scores a viable alternative to becoming a practicing MD or DO in the United States.
“Caribbean medical schools can be a great option for students who are looking to become a doctor,” says Dr. Hans Wolf CEO & Founder of WOLFPACC’s Physician Achievement Concept Course. “But it is important to be aware of the challenges that Caribbean IMGs face. Although it may be easier to gain acceptance, students will need solid scores on their USMLE or COMLEX-USA exam to have the best shot at a preferred residency program.”
If you choose an international medical school with accreditation and recognition from U.S. agencies, those Caribbean schools generally have much lower attrition rates. Still, to practice medicine in the United States, you must graduate with good grades, pass all of the steps or levels of your medical board examinations, and complete a residency program before you will be eligible to work on your own as a physician.
Advantages vs Disadvantages
There are frustrations and obstacles other than the match process that IMGs have to overcome. Conversely, there are both financial and circumstantial advantages in choosing to attend a Caribbean medical school. So, take a close look at both the pros and cons discussed below, as well as some key strategies that may help level the playing field for becoming a practicing physician.
Strategic Advantages – Let’s face facts. Not every aspiring medical student knew early on that he or she wanted to be a doctor. Although easier admissions and more likely acceptance top the list of advantages for attending a Caribbean medical school, circumstantial reasons also must be taken into account.
- Whether a student was a late bloomer or didn’t do well on standardized tests, any aspiring medical student who is willing to put forth the effort can reach his or her goal of becoming a highly-skilled physician. But for every advantage an IMG has, there is likely an obstacle the IMG may have to overcome that U.S. medical students don’t.
- Caribbean medical schools are more likely to accept applicants with unique situations, such as older students who have taken time off from their studies or someone who ended up with a criminal record due to an incident of undergraduate foolishness. So, non-traditional students definitely have a more equal footing for acceptance.
Challenging Disadvantages – There are disadvantages to attending a Caribbean medical school. For starters tuition at Caribbean medical schools is usually higher than attending medical school in the States. Although eager to accept applicants, Caribbean medical schools that are operated “for profit” are normally more expensive.
- IMGs of Caribbean medical schools will find it more difficult to match in residency, unless they have stellar grades, clinical experience, and qualifying scores on the USMLE or COMLEX-USA medical board exams. Some residency programs are just unfriendly to IMGs, so consider investing in the additional training that can help you apply the science.
- Caribbean medical schools have fewer resources and may provide less support for graduating students than medical schools in the United States. This can include things like less financial aid, less academic support, and less career counseling as well as having less influence when recommending graduates for stateside residency.
Ultimately the decision of whether or not to attend a Caribbean medical school is a personal one. There are both advantages and disadvantages to consider, and the best decision for one student may not be the best decision for another. If you are currently a med student attending a Caribbean medical school or a Caribbean IMG applying for residency, WOLFPACC Physicians Achievement Concept Course can help you use what you’ve already learned in medical school to make confident and competent decisions in clinical practice.
The Power 5: Innovative Learning through Physiology
WOLFPACC methodology is an innovative approach designed specifically for medical students and IMGs preparing to take the USMLE and/or COMLEX-USA medical licensing exams. Over years of preparing students for a career in medicine, Dr. Hans Wolf saw a need for a course that focused on the common links between the five organ systems through physiology. Dr. Wolf noticed that many graduates didn’t realize how much they already knew about the science of medicine. His goal then and now is to teach students how to think their way through each question or clinical situation and identify the correct answer.
“Over the years, we’ve helped so many IMGs achieve their personal goal of becoming a doctor,” boasts Dr. Wolf. “There are too many obstacles for any student to overcome during their career to worry about the advantages or disadvantages of the medical school they attended.”
It can be risky to rely on your short-term memory. Since memory fades over time, it makes more sense to invest in training that uses a different strategy. The Power 5 utilizes proven concepts that help each student integrate the pertinent material they learned in their basic sciences and put a clinical understanding to the task at hand. At WOLFPACC we believe in your dream and want you to become a confident physician. That’s why we are committed to doing everything we can to help you understand the material presented and to assist you in passing your USLME or COMLEX-USA examinations with an impressive score.
Dr. Hans Wolf and his staff look forward to working with you and making you our next success story. If you’re ready to be the best physician you can be, contact us today to schedule a USMLE or COMLEX review program. We also provide everything a student needs to succeed and pass the USMLE Step 2 CK or COMLEX Level 2 CE with higher scores.
photo courtesy of Darren Lawerence at pexels.com