Caribbean Schools Give Unique Opportunities

Caribbean medical school students may face certain stigmas outside of the Caribbean. When these schools began appearing about 40 years ago, Caribbean medical universities had a reputation of providing subpar education and training for students trying to get into US residency programs. That is not the case today.

Competitive Programs

Many Caribbean schools have developed competitive programs that have a good residency placement rate, with some as high as 84%. These for-profit universities have established a two-way relationship with certain hospitals in the US wherein the university pays the hospital to reserve spots for their students each year.

These mostly rural hospitals benefit because they get the physicians they need and the IMGs (International Medical Graduates) get the placement required to further their careers. The majority of residencies are in family practice and internal medicine. Certain specialties are extremely competitive even for US medical graduates and these can prove to be nearly impossible for IMGs to acquire.

Overcoming the Odds

The students at Caribbean medical schools have overcome obstacles that have given them a focus and humility not found in many stateside students. Most were rejected from US medical schools because of one weak academic area or getting B’s early on in their college career. Some were rejected because they are older than the average medical student.

They did not let their early setbacks keep them from achieving their goals. These students understand that to continue in their objective of becoming a practicing physician in the United States they will be required to have higher than average USMLE scores.

Unique Training

A Caribbean medical university presents some unique opportunities for students. While the schools themselves are well equipped, the communities they reside in are often surrounded by expensive tourist resorts with locals living in poor conditions. Students are usually required to train in community hospitals that do not have the technological advances of US facilities.

These conditions actually become a strength for students because they have to rely on extensive patient interviews and symptom analysis without the aid of technology. They learn to listen to their patients and see them as individuals Many students appreciate the ability it gives them to truly “see” an illness. They become accustomed to how the illness looks, manifests itself, and affects the lives of patients.

This type of education creates physicians with the ability to work hard and treat patients with kindness and respect. With these values, they are able to successfully practice medicine as well as any medical graduate.