Two-Semester vs. Three-Semester Calendars at Caribbean Medical Schools
You probably heard that many Caribbean medical schools function on a three- semester calendar system. AUA is one of the few exceptions. There are many reasons why AUA decided to go with a two-semester system. Here are some:
One challenge many medical students face is burning out. Studying too hard over a semester can really drain your reserves. Imagine doing that back-to-back within a year with only a few weeks between semesters. In a three-semester academic calendar, you can’t create a flexible schedule during breaks to include some relaxing downtime. The longer breaks that are built into a two-semester academic calendar will help you reconnect with family and friends, rediscover some old haunts, and reboot yourself for next semester. You’ll even explore more ways to stay healthier in mind and body that you can use when you return to the island. Plus, it’ll keep your wallet healthy too: you’ll save so much on airfare alone.
Similar structure to U.S. Medical Schools
U.S. medical schools function on a two-semester/year schedule. When you enter clinical rotations with U.S. medical students, you’ll feel more at home knowing you had a similar education abroad. Our two-semester system is one of the many reasons that Florida International University made an agreement with AUA, which allows qualified AUA clinical students to complete all of their clinical rotations at FIU-affiliated hospitals.
More time for volunteering experience
Residency directors look at everything you did throughout medical school – and will definitely notice if you never participated in any volunteering activities. You may not have time for them during the semester but a longer break gives you the flexibility to take on as many as you can handle. It’ll not only make you a stronger candidate but will also assist you in becoming a more compassionate physician. Volunteering gives you more hands-on time with people from diverse backgrounds, which will be a huge asset when you work with patients, attendings, and physicians in clinical rotations.
Research, research, research
At most Caribbean medical schools, you’ll be solely focused on your studies during your Basic Sciences semesters. However, since AUA is on a two-semester schedule, you can use the extended break time to collaborate on research with professors or other members of the medical community. Publishing research is a great way to demonstrate your passion for medicine and may give you the connections to secure the residency you desire.
Bonus USMLE Step 1 prep time
Having a full summer break versus a few tiny breaks scattered throughout the year will give you more time to dive into your USMLE Step 1 prep. On a tri-semester schedule, you would have had to choose between studying and relaxation time. Longer breaks give you the luxury of not having to make a tough choice between the two. You’ll now have the time to set your schedule and not rush through your break.
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