Feel like you have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting into a U.S. medical school? That might be because less than half of all applicants are accepted each year. Many students with the potential to become brilliant physicians have abandoned their dream because of that competitive process – don’t let yourself be one of them. You have options, and a Caribbean medical school may be the best one.
- Holistic Evaluation
Because of the exorbitant volume of applicants and extremely low acceptance rates (we’ll get to that next), U.S. medical schools give disproportionate weight to MCAT scores. Most Caribbean medical schools, on the other hand, don’t even require an MCAT score to apply. American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine, in particular, understands that test scores and GPA are not a reflection of an applicant’s ability to become a successful and knowledgeable physician. AUA offers interviews to any student who meets the minimum criteria in order to give candidates a chance to prove their passion, determination, and potential.
- Acceptance Rates
Of the 52,550 students that applied to U.S. medical schools last year, only 20,631 were accepted, making a 4 out 10 acceptance rate the national average. Forget about the Ivy Leagues—Harvard only accepts 1 out of 25. Caribbean medical schools, with fewer applicants and a higher acceptance rate, don’t have to reduce candidates to their test scores and GPA. Otherwise dedicated students who were rejected from U.S. medical schools should consider this a viable option.
- Rolling Admissions
Whether you’re part of the annual 60% rejected from U.S. medical schools or simply decided to apply shortly after the year’s application deadlines, you’ll have to wait a full cycle before you can apply to a U.S. medical school again. A whole year? Following this dream is already going to take 9–15 years. Luckily, most Caribbean medical schools have two or three intakes a year. Although AUA’s curriculum follows the U.S. model, applications are accepted year-round for the February and August start dates. The admissions committee has even accepted students just weeks before the semester begins.
- Accelerated Study
Think about how much money you could save if you trim a year or two off school and start working that much sooner. Medical schools in the Caribbean tend to offer accelerated programs through articulation agreements with post-secondary institutions. AUA’s program with American International College of Arts and Sciences–Antigua allows students to finish their pre-medical coursework in two years. Qualified students who complete the program are guaranteed admission to AUA. This program’s seamless transition to medical school saves at least two years.
- Clinical Rotations in the United States
Top Caribbean medical schools have an extensive network of clinical affiliates throughout the United States, with slots specifically reserved for their students. That’s right—you’re getting the same clinical experience as your U.S. counterparts. AUA, for example, has more than 35 clinical sites through the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and India.
- Graduate Success
Less competitive admissions criteria does not result in less qualified physicians. AUA evaluates incoming applicants differently, but the education and experience it offers prepares students and graduates to score above average on test scores and earn prestigious residency positions. This year, AUA’s USMLE Step 1 first-time pass rate is a whopping 97%! Graduates have gone on to secure residency placement in highly competitive specialties at the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Brown University-Rhode Island Hospital, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the University of Toronto, just to name a few.
- Tropical Paradise
This one’s a major perk that can’t be claimed by U.S. medical schools. Understandably, navigating a foreign country can be daunting, but Caribbean islands offer the best of both worlds—English is the dominant language, U.S. currency is accepted, and the mainland is a short flight away. After all, the Caribbean is a popular travel destination designed to provide the comforts craved by Western tourists. Antigua is one of the most modern islands in the tropics, where you’ll delight in perfect weather, pristine beaches, nature, outdoor activities, and more.
If you’re considering applying to medical school, choosing the right one may be the biggest decision you’re facing at the moment. Just keep in mind that your dream of becoming a physician doesn’t end with rejection from U.S. medical schools. Focus on the top medical schools in the Caribbean, and you’ll find that attending and graduating from one just means you spent the first two years of your medical education studying on a beautiful island.