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More Than a Test Score: Dr. Nickul Shah’s Pathway to Medicine

The graduates of American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine consistently go on to do great things, securing residencies at highly regarded teaching hospitals, obtaining competitive fellowships, and earning prestigious awards.

Dr. Nickul Shah, AUA Class of 2016, is one of these outstanding alumni. Shah had been fascinated with the sciences as a child, and inspired by his grandfather’s career as a pathologist in India, he decided to pursue a medical career to help others. Now a Resident Pathology Physician at Baystate Medical Center, Shah earned his bachelor’s degree in microbiology with a premedical track from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2011.

Shah was a curious and diligent undergraduate student, taking four graduate-level courses, helping other students as a teaching assistant, working on two research projects, and expanding his clinical experience as a lab assistant at Baystate Medical Center. But as he graduated from the University of Massachusetts and set out to apply to medical schools, he encountered an obstacle: he took the MCAT three times and received lower scores than he had hoped. Shah was confident that he had the knowledge and competency to excel as a physician – but his MCAT scores were a barrier for him when applying to medical school.

“I knew that my MCAT scores did not reflect my potential as a student,” said Shah in a profile for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. “I researched many programs in the US as well as in the Caribbean. Although I was rejected by both MD and DO programs in the US, I was accepted by American University of Antigua College of Medicine. Comparing the curriculum with those in the US, there is honestly no difference with the exception that students study in the Caribbean for two years and complete their rotations back in the US.”

Shah continued to build his scientific, medical, and clinical expertise during his time at AUA, publishing multiple cases and a book on topics that interested him. Though he had to overcome hurdles along the way, he said he is grateful for the experiences that shaped his career path.

“My story is one of many, to help those students who feel there is little hope after struggling with low MCAT scores or ‘bad’ grades,” Shah said. “I will say that going to any Caribbean school is not a total loss at all. It is essentially an alternative to acquire the same medical degree as those in the US. I have participated in clinical rotations where I rotated with students from other US medical schools (Northeast Ohio Medical University, SUNY Downstate, and Hofstra University). I had the same medical knowledge as they had, and there were no biases or negative connotations for having a different educational background.”

Learn more about why AUA is an ideal choice for prospective medical students – and how to apply.