Sunday, June 9, 2013

Comparing Caribbean Medical Schools and US based Medical Schools

While Caribbean Medical Schools offer a vastly different location than US based medical schools, they are far more comparable than you might think.

When applying to medical school, both US based and Caribbean schools will be looking at the same things. Both types will look at your GPA and will likely require MCAT scores as well as letters of recommendation. Additionally, both will be interested in other pertinent information, such as volunteer/work experience in the heath field and exposure to different humanities courses. They will also have the same prerequisites in terms of college courses. However, the US based schools are more competitive and harder to get into. The Caribbean Schools, while still competitive, accept a higher percentage of students by far and will often take students several times during the year, as opposed to just once.

The schools themselves are very similar in their make up. They offer the same courses, use the same books, and give the same tests. However, the Caribbean medical schools will usually offer smaller class sizes, allowing for a great opportunity to interact with the professors, and other faculty members. Additionally, they are newer schools, so they usually have the latest technology. The older US schools often have outdated technology and the student body isn’t nearly as diverse. While hands-on experience is illegal in the United States, most Caribbean schools actually encourage this experience. You will likely graduate a Caribbean school with a great deal of first hand experience that would be lacking in a US school. However, the US schools will offer more modern conveniences since they are located in a first world country. While many Caribbean medical schools offer a lower tuition rate, and the cost of living is often lower on the island, federal loans will likely not be available. This means in the end, you will pay the same amount and you will need to find your own loans, something that may be more difficult and will likely have a higher interest rate.

After completing the basic science courses in the Caribbean, you will likely spend a great deal of time in the US doing clinical experience prior to your residency. While Caribbean Medical Students have a disadvantage when it comes to residency matches because of their international medical graduate certification, most students will find a match, either on their own or through the match program. In addition, the biggest factor in finding matches is you as a student. If you do well in school, get good scores on your USMLE (step 1 and step 2), and get good letters of recommendation, you will likely find a good residency in a field you are interested in.  

In the end, the two types of schools are far more similar than they are different, and the biggest indicator of your future success will be what you bring into the equation. Medical Schools in the Caribbean will prepare you just as well for your future career as medical schools in the US if you apply yourself.


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