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Accreditations and Recognitions and Approvals! Oh my!

When considering Caribbean medical schools, keep in mind that a school’s accreditations, recognitions, and approvals determine where you’ll be eligible to practice and what your post-graduate options are. This guide will show you what to look for in a school that’ll help you achieve your dream of becoming a licensed physician in the United States.

U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DOE)

Some Caribbean schools will claim to be accredited and list a bunch of acronyms to prove it. Before you start googling, scan for the most important letters: U.S. DOE.

Only students from schools approved by the U.S. DOE can complete clinical rotations, secure residency, and practice medicine in the United States. Recognition by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research–International Medical Education Directory (FAIMER–IMED) are also included under the umbrella of U.S. DOE approval.

Medical schools must be approved by the U.S DOE to be eligible to offer U.S. federal financial aid.

National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation (NCFMEA)

When confirming a Caribbean medical school’s U.S. DOE approval, you will come across the NCFMEA. The NCFMEA determines whether or not a foreign country’s medical school accrediting standards are comparable to those of U.S. medical schools.

In the American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine’s case, the NCFMEA determined that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, through its appointment of the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP) as its sole authorized medical school accreditor, employed standards and procedures comparable to those employed by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) to accredit medical schools in the United States.

Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Health Professions (CAAM-HP)

This is a big one because the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the body that certifies international medical graduates to participate in U.S. medical programs, has determined that as of 2023, physicians applying for ECFMG certification must graduate from a medical school that is appropriately accredited. CAAM-HP is the accrediting body for most Caribbean medical schools. This means that students graduating from a school without CAAM-HP accreditation won’t be eligible for licensure in the U.S. and Canada.

After a demanding review process, AUA received CAAM-HP accreditation, which is exclusive to medical schools that meet or exceed the highest industry standards.

State Recognitions and Approvals:

– Florida Department of Education (FL DOE)

– New York State Education Department (NYSED)

Medical Board of California (MBC)

These three states employ their own review process to qualify an international medical school to provide clinical training within the state. To be eligible to complete clinical rotations, earn residency, and apply for medical licensure in New York, students must graduate from schools with NYSED approval. MBC recognition is required in California and also allows practice in the 30+ states without their own individual process.

Make sure all the time, money, dedication, and discipline that medical school requires doesn’t go to waste. Carefully research your top choices to ensure their accreditations, recognitions, and approvals allow you to practice in the United States. When in doubt, use this guide as a checklist.