Accreditation and Caribbean Medical Schools

In your search for finding the Caribbean medical school right for you, you may have come upon these terms: approved by New York, recognized by California, etcetera. What do these mean? These approvals define the quality of the education you will receive at these schools. Most importantly, it will qualify you for obtaining a residency and licensure after you graduate.

These are the big four approvals for Caribbean medical school: approval from the New York State Education Department, recognition from the Medical Board of California, approval from the National Committee of Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA), and accreditation from Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP).

New York State Education Department

Approval from the NY is usually the first step for many Caribbean medical schools to receive wider recognition. American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine’s first approval came from NYS Education Department. This approval allows Caribbean medical school students to participate in clinical rotations and graduates to obtain residencies in the state. Considering the number of teaching hospitals in state, this approval is essential for any Caribbean medical school to expand its clinical affiliates.

Medical Board of California

This is the big one. Only five Caribbean medical schools, including AUA, have the distinction to be recognized by the Medical Board of California. This not only allows AUA graduates obtain a license to practice medicine, enter residency training, and provide clinical training to students in California but states that follow California’s approved list as well such as Oregon, Colorado, Indiana, and Kansas. However, this recognition does carry weight in states that don’t specifically follow this list. Schools that get on the disapproved list, such as St. Matthews and University of Health Sciences Antigua, will most likely never get off it and taint their statuses in other states.

Recognition from the Medical Board of California takes years to achieve. To get on the approval list, Caribbean medical schools have to go through a rigorous process of site visits and extensive evaluation of the quality of their MD programs. Typically, it takes over a decade for California recognition. AUA managed to accomplish this feat in seven.


Students of NCFMEA accredited schools are qualified to apply for Title-IV funding, which is a U.S. federal financial aid program.  Only Ross, St. Georges, and American University of the Caribbean have received this coveted accreditation. AUA is currently in the process of having its MD program reviewed by the NCFMEA.


CAAM-HP has only accredited a handful of MD programs in the Caribbean, including AUA. Established in 2003, CAAM-HP is the legally constituted body that evaluates MD programs in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to see if they meet their high standards. The demanding review process assesses every facet of these medical programs. Students from CAAM-HP can practice in CARICOM states but CAAM-HP accreditation looks good for Caribbean medical schools seeking accreditations elsewhere as well.

Other Approvals

Besides these big accreditations, there are a few other approvals that are important as well but not as all-encompassing as these. Florida, Texas, and New Jersey also have approval systems in place for Caribbean medical schools. Florida approval allows Caribbean medical students to participate in clinical clerkships in the state but graduates of schools that have yet to be approved can still obtain residencies and receive a medical license in the state. In Texas, schools must be approved for its graduates to obtain licensure but graduates from schools that have yet to be approved are licensed in state. New Jersey only allows Ross and St. George’s students to participate in clinical clerkships in the state because it has closed clerkship sites for international medical schools. AUA graduates have been able to obtain residencies in all three of these states.

Want to learn more about accreditations? Ask us in the comments!

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