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The Admissions Process: Caribbean vs. U.S. Medical Schools

Applying for medical school can be as stressful as attending it. Though Caribbean and U.S. medical schools have a similar application process, the devil’s in the details. Here’s a breakdown of how they compare at each step along the admissions process:

Institutional Research

Caribbean and U.S. medical schools recommend you conduct independent research before you apply, but they also offer opportunities to see their programs up close. Most U.S. medical schools give campus tours for those able to make the trip. Of course, visiting a Caribbean medical school is less feasible, but many host local information seminars and open houses where you can ask questions and speak with admissions representatives, current students, and alumni in person. Can’t make that either? Online webinars provide much of the same information from the comfort of your home.

Winner: Draw

Admissions Dates

The academic calendars for Caribbean and U.S medical schools operate quite differently. Caribbean medical schools have rolling admissions, which means they accept students two or three times a year – typically around January/February, May, and August/September. Because U.S. medical schools adhere to two semesters per academic year, they only allow entry in the Fall. If rejected, students have to wait a full year to reapply and, even with a vastly improved application, are not guaranteed acceptance the next year.

Winner: Caribbean medical schools

Application Assistance

After you submit an application, it could be weeks before you hear anything. U.S. medical schools keep mum until you receive an email to schedule an interview or with news of a rejection. If you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for an admissions decision, or at least to know if your application is complete, many Caribbean medical schools have dedicated staff members to help students with their application. At AUA, the Applicant Services department can be easily reached by email and phone to ensure you have submitted all necessary documents.

Winner: Caribbean medical schools

Application Evaluation

Although Caribbean and U.S. medical schools both require candidates to complete the same pre-requisite courses and fill out an application, they have different standards for determining whether an application moves to the next round. Considering the deluge of applications they receive, U.S. medical schools focus on the numbers. GPA and MCAT scores are weighed more than extracurricular activities, personal statement, recommendations, etc. Most Caribbean medical schools take a holistic approach to evaluating applications and do not consider your MCAT score when making a decision.

Winner: Caribbean medical schools

Interview

Good news: the school liked your application enough to ask you to visit their administrative offices. Hopefully that takes a bit of the edge off of the last phase of the admissions process. Although the questions vary at each institution, Caribbean and U.S. medical schools make their final decisions based on your professional qualities and the substance of your answers. At Caribbean medical schools, applicants hear about their admissions decision within two weeks after their interview. At U.S. medical schools, decisions arrive when they inform all applicants, which can be weeks or months later.

Winner: Draw

Admissions Decision

U.S. medical school decisions are final – either you’re accepted, rejected, or waitlisted. Caribbean medical schools may reject your application but still offer a chance to start your medical career with an alternative route to their program. If you’re not initially accepted to AUA, you may still qualify for the Basic Sciences Enhancement Program or the Bridge to MD Program. Either program gives qualified candidates an opportunity to enter AUA after successfully completing their courses.

Winner: Caribbean medical schools

Enrollment

If you receive an acceptance letter, congratulations! You now have to finalize your enrollment. Fortunately, Caribbean and U.S. medical schools have departments assist you with the extensive paperwork. However, if you require financial aid, only select Caribbean medical schools, including AUA College of Medicine, are approved to participate in U.S. Federal Direct Loans, which give U.S. students more options to fund their education.

Winner: Draw

Overall Experience

While Caribbean and U.S. medical schools care about their students, Caribbean medical schools also care about their applicants. These institutions understand the drive it takes to complete the exhaustive admissions process and believe that can correlate to success in medical school. If they see your passion for medicine, they want to see you become a physician as much as you do.

Winner: Caribbean medical schools

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