The Pros and Cons of Caribbean Medical School
Holistic Admissions Process
American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine and many other Caribbean medical school admission committees look at the whole candidate instead of one particular part of their application. Most U.S. medical schools use MCAT scores to determine if an applicant is accepted. This helps candidates with below-average MCAT scores who have the drive to become physicians.
Studying in a Tropical Paradise
Instead of studying in a stuffy dorm room to escape the cold, you can always study on the beach in consistently warm weather. A good climate can dramatically benefit your studying habits. The option to study inside or outside may sound insignificant but can possibly help with your studying. It also allows you to unwind when studying for exams.
Early Clinical Experience
Caribbean medical schools like AUA offer students the opportunity to develop clinical skills early in the curriculum. Many U.S. medical schools put this off later in their preclinical curriculum or leave it entirely to clinicals. By experiencing clinical settings earlier, students are generally more prepared to apply the medical knowledge they acquired during Basic Sciences for their clinical rotations.
Caribbean medical schools typically cost less than U.S. medical schools (both out-of-state public and private). Some schools may approach the costs of U.S. medical schools (such as St. Georges) but they are, overall, still less expensive.
Global Medical Training
In today’s global society, students who are able to have a global medical education have an advantage in residency applications and when they become physicians. Since Caribbean medical schools are affiliated with numerous teaching hospitals, it gives students the opportunity to participate in clinical rotations throughout the United States. Some schools even offer clinical rotations throughout the globe. AUA has elective clinical rotations available in Canada and India.
Not All Schools are Accredited
AUA is recognized by the Medical Board of California, approved by the New York State Education Department, and accredited by CAAM-HP. However, not all Caribbean medical schools have these accreditations. Some have more approvals than AUA (such as Ross and St. Georges) but a vast majority of these schools don’t. That means graduates of these programs have less opportunities to obtain residencies and participate in clinical clerkships in the United States. In fact, it makes it nearly impossible to earn a medical license in many states as well.
Residencies in Certain Specialties are More Difficult to Obtain
A majority of graduates from Caribbean medical schools end up in primary care, which includes internal medicine, family medicine, OB/GYN, and pediatrics. Some secure residencies in neurology, nuclear medicine, anesthesiology, and other competitive fields. However, these are not as frequent since Caribbean medical schools are not connected to a teaching hospital for clinical rotations. AUA graduates have been fortunate enough to obtain residencies in very competitive fields like ophthalmology, neurosurgery, and diagnostic radiology. Primary care fields should not be considered as less distinguished, though. There is a higher demand for primary care physicians than ever, which means there are more opportunities for medical school graduates. Primary care physicians can make a difference in communities where it is difficult to access a physician.