Applying to Caribbean Medical Schools

Becoming a physician is the dream of many starry eyed college students but the majority fails to gain acceptance. What happens when you apply to medical schools and get rejected? Applicants are usually encouraged to improve their application and apply again the next year. But what happens if you get rejected again? Should you wait another year and apply again? One route many American students take is heading overseas to a Caribbean medical school. These schools offer Doctor of Medicine (MD) degrees that allow graduates to practice in the United States and other countries.


Admissions requirements at Caribbean medical schools are often similar to their American counterparts. Schools generally require two semesters of Biology, two semesters of Inorganic Chemistry, two semesters of Organic Chemistry, one semester of Physics, one semester of Calculus, and varying liberal arts requirements. The Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is required by the majority of schools. Newer, lesser known schools that do not require the MCAT should be avoided at all costs. The statistics of admitted students is on average lower than students admitted to American medical schools. Work and volunteer experience will also improve your chances of acceptance.

License and certification eligibility is a key factor to consider when applying to foreign schools. Each individual state determines whether a school's graduates can complete clinical rotations, a residency and eventually practice in the state. As of now, only the graduates of four Caribbean medical schools are free to practice in all fifty states. These schools are called the "Big 4" and consist of St. George's University, Saba University, Ross University and the American University of the Caribbean. Admitted applicants have GPAs around 3.2 and a MCAT score of at least 24. Some schools offer extra semester programs to students who are slightly under qualified. After successful completion, they are admitted along with the next entering class.

The curriculum at many Caribbean schools is very similar. The first two years are spent on the respected island. Students take classes like Human Anatomy, Pathophysiology and Neuroscience. Several medical schools divide the year into trimesters for students that want an accelerated pace. Schools have different starting points so first years students can start in either fall or spring. A fifth semester prepares the student for clinical rotations and USMLE step 1 exam. Rotation sites vary by school but longer established schools have developed relationships with higher reputed hospitals. Clinical rotations are mostly done in affiliated hospitals in the United States alongside students from American and other Caribbean medical schools.

A medical school's residency match list shows the residency assignments of all graduates. "Big 4" schools have better placements and a wider variety of specialties are obtained by their graduates. Caribbean graduates will need to have higher step scores than their American peers due to the stigma attached to foreign medical graduates. It is important to let any criticism bounce off and show that you are a driven, capable and intelligent individual. Don't fret, once you are a practicing physician you are judged by your ability and not a piece of paper.

Caribbean schools are a true test of your desire to be a physician. The grueling schedule and sacrifices that need to be made are a testament to the will of Caribbean graduates. Admissions may be easier but the weak and lazy are weeded out immediately and only strong, dedicated students are able to complete the program. There are many factors to consider before going overseas but rest assured that Caribbean medical schools produce well educated and respected physicians.

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1 Response to "Applying to Caribbean Medical Schools"

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