For aspiring medical students, medical schools in the Caribbean offer a number of interesting opportunities. By pursuing their education abroad through Caribbean medical schools, students have the chance to explore the world while receiving high-quality instruction and training that will lead to an internationally recognized medical degree.
For international students, getting accepted to a Caribbean university school of medicine is much easier than many medical schools in the United States and Canada, and the application process is quite similar.
This short guide will provide prospective international medical students all the information they need to complete their applications to Caribbean medical schools.
Is it Hard to Get Into Caribbean Medical School?
More and more students are opting to attend a medical school in the Caribbean. A large reason for this is that the need for more primary care doctors in our communities have greatly outpaced the limited amount of space that is available in North American medical schools. Facing an enormous amount of competition for the small number of places available each year (thus the high tuition), the admissions process is more competitive and grueling than ever before, discouraging aspiring doctors that want to give back to their communities. In fact, open places in Canadian and American medical faculties are so few that the admissions committees at those schools are forced to reject the majority of their applicants.
Even for standout students, getting into leading American and Canadian medical schools can be a very challenging process, one that is likely to lead to rejection.
Higher Acceptance Rates in the Caribbean
Although Caribbean medical schools offer a level of education and training that is on par with leading American and Canadian institutions, they have a higher acceptance rate.
For example, the American University of Antigua (AUA) School of Medicine was partially designed to take advantage of all the excellent Canadian students that were not able to find a place back home. In that way, the AUA represents a unique and viable path to residency and practice
Thanks to reasonable tuition fees and fewer total applicants, students generally have an easier time getting into medical school in the Caribbean than they do in their home communities.
Do Caribbean Medical Schools Require MCAT?
As medical school applicants are all too aware, their Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores can make or break their medical school applications.
MCAT requirements vary from institution to institution; some schools prefer to gauge students more holistically and take things like extracurricular activities, GPAs, and aspirations into account over standardized scores, whereas others opt to rely solely on the numbers.
Is it a Good Idea to go to Medical School in the Caribbean?
For aspiring doctors, choosing a Caribbean school is a good idea for several reasons.
It should be noted, however, that not all Carribean medical schools are on the same level, so students need to do their medical education research to make sure that their foreign medical school of choice has the accreditations and approvals recognized in the jurisdiction where they hope to practice medicine.
The American University of Antigua School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in this regard. It is recognized by the New York State Education Department and the Florida Department of Education, the Medical Board of California, the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP), and the Canadian Ministry of Education.
With this excellent accreditation status, American University of Antigua medical graduates are eligible for residency, licensure and clinical rotations throughout India, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada as soon as they pass their necessary licensure exams.
Live the Caribbean Dream: Study Abroad!
If you are one of the many students who has been unable to secure a spot at Canadian or U.S. medical schools, you can still realize your medical career aspirations by pursuing your education in the Caribbean. Students who graduate from medical schools in the Caribbean can be accredited to work in Canada or the United States, giving Caribbean medical school graduates the opportunity to apply for residency in their home communities.
For many people, the manageable tuition fees and cost of living in the Caribbean removes the economic barrier, and the abundance of direct flights from many North American cities make it easy to travel to and from their institution of choice to visit friends and family in between semesters and during holidays.
Applying to Caribbean Medical Schools
Applying to a Caribbean medical school is similar to any other application to a school of medicine, requiring a familiar list of prerequisites, forms and documentation. Although there is some variation in the requirements of particular Caribbean medical schools, the overall process is the same.
American University of Antigua
The AUA’s College of Medicine requires a minimum of 90 credit hours of college courses, including certain courses in biology, chemistry, physics, math and English, and strongly recommends that applicants earn a degree from an accredited undergraduate institution before applying. Here at AUA, although an MCAT score is required for admission for US citizens and permanent residents, we believe in reviewing applicants on a holistic level, as we understand that test scores alone don’t necessarily make good doctors.
Applicants need to provide all official transcripts from each undergraduate, graduate, medical, and/or professional school attended.
At least one of the two letters of recommendation must be from a science professor who has taught you and knows your academic abilities. If you haven’t taken a science class in two or more years, a second professional letter can be accepted (from a non-science professor or employer, medical colleague, or other professional) in its place.
Students will be interviewed as part of the admissions process, either in person or remotely.
English Language Proficiency
Applicants who have completed their undergraduate studies in countries having an educational system different from that of the United States will be evaluated on their merits and will be expected to have completed a pre-medical curriculum comparable to one offered in the U.S.
AUA’s curriculum is taught in English, and all accepted students must be proficient in English. Potentially requiring a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Test System (IELTS) test score and/or require an admissions faculty interview from any applicant if it appears that English language proficiency could interfere with that student’s academic success at AUA.
All required documents, if originally in a foreign language, must be accompanied by a notarized English translation. All transcripts documenting postsecondary course work completed in institutions outside the United States must also be evaluated by an approved international credential evaluation service such as World Education Services or other National Association of Credential Evaluations Services (NACES) members.
Candidates who have taken MD courses at a medical, dental, podiatry or DO schools will be required to submit a “dean’s letter” in addition to transcripts from those institutions.
All students are required to submit a criminal background check (CBC) prior to starting at AUA. Applicants who have any violation appearing on a CBC are required to submit the CBC documentation before their application is reviewed by the Admissions Failure to submit a CBC in advance of a decision may result in a reversal of acceptance.
Canadian Student Exceptions
Canadian applicants to the AUA School of Medicine do not need to submit MCAT scores to be considered for admission. As opposed to other international students, aspiring Canadian medical school students do not need to submit official TOEFL or IELTS score reports to apply.
Through an articulation agreement with the American International College of Arts and Sciences – Antigua (AICASA), students who complete premedical coursework at AICASA are guaranteed acceptance into AUA College of Medicine.
To learn more about this path to the AUA School of Medicine, click here.