Keep in mind that a school listed with the World Health Organization (WHO) or the International Medical Education Directory (IMED) still may not qualify for licensure in the United States.
What really matters is state approval. Currently only five English language medical schools located in the Caribbean islands are approved by all fifty states in the United States.
Those Caribbean medical schools are American University of the Caribbean, Ross University, Saba University, St. George’s University and the University of the West Indies.
Be prepared. Know what you are getting yourself into:
- Please contact several people in your search for info, preferably “the source” (school administration, medical organization, etc.). Research, research, research!
- Be VERY aware of the RISKS involved with attending a foreign medical school and becoming an international medical graduate (IMG). Contact the AAMC, AMA, NRMP, CaRMS and find out the facts regarding this issue. Only go to an established California-approved medical school. Stay away from schools that just opened up in the last few years and are promising basic sciences on their island with USMLE preparation and guaranteed clinical rotations.
- The most important thing I can tell you about attending medical school is to make sure you are academically suitable. In other words, be certain that you will be able to handle the intense medical curriculum. I found, for me, the biology section of the MCAT prepared me quite well for my studies in medical school. If you feel your background is weak, and that you may have problems, then before you attend, I strongly recommend taking some college/university courses, in biology, physiology, biochemistry, etc. Just take a look at the medical school curriculum to get an idea of what types of courses you need to prepare for, and make certain that you do!
- ...and lastly, follow your heart. Don’t attend medical school because it will make your parents happy, or because you think it will make you prestigious or rich. All this is actually not true about a career in medicine. Attend only if you have a genuine interest in the study of medicine and the subjects involved, and you love to study. This way you will be happy. Otherwise you will be miserable and will drop out.
Find out the FACTS. Get them directly from the source - the “horse’s mouth,” as they say - whether that is the medical schools, the ECFMG, FSMB or other governing bodies. It is important to know the truth and the risks involved with Caribbean medical schools, and the realities. That is the only way you can make the most informed decision for yourself.
Some basic questions one should ask the Caribbean school are:
- What is your USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 first-time pass rate?
- What is your clinical placement rate (at affiliated hospitals in the U.S.)?
- What percentage of your graduates obtain a residency in the U.S.?
Ask away! Don’t be satisfied until you know everything. Then, and only then, can you decide whether or not to attend a Caribbean medical school. Read this great book, post on the forums and share your information. I sincerely wish the best of luck to you all. I know the pain you are going through.