Are you considering an offshore medical school? Was your MCAT score too low? An American university medical degree is expensive, even if you meet the rigorous application requirements. Caribbean medical schools can offer another route to becoming a doctor for driven students.
Table of Contents
- Why Consider this Route
- Unique Beauty
- Unrivaled Affordability
- Small Class Sizes
- Prestigious Schools & Accredited Programs
- Study Abroad Safely
- Easier Admission Requirements
- A Great Job Waiting for You
Why Consider this Route
The road to becoming a doctor is long and winding. Many are turned away by unattainable MCAT scores, rigorous GPA requirements, and the overwhelming student debt that US schools require. If you have struggled to get flawless marks in school or simply need a break from everyday life, there is another option. Medical schools in the Caribbean have been training and certifying doctors for decades. Here are seven reasons to consider a Caribbean school.
1.) Unique Beauty
We’ll start with the most obvious perk of studying on an island in the Caribbean… you are studying on an island in the Caribbean! These islands are some of the most beautiful in the entire world. Together they offer a unique and diverse collection of rare ecosystems, stunning scenery, and high-adrenaline recreational opportunities.
New York has culture. Boston has history. But only at a medical university in the Caribbean can you relax after exams by immediately going scuba diving through a coral reef or getting some sun on the pristine white beaches. From the dusky beauty of St. John’s to the sparkling splendor of Aruba, each island has unique features worth exploring.
2.) Unrivaled Affordability
The average medical student studying in the United States will end up taking out over $200,000 in student loans. Around the world, international medical schools are following suit and bumping up their prices to match American school fees in an effort to appear more legitimate. Most Caribbean medical school fees, however, are much cheaper. This is because many Caribbean schools were founded to give access to students who otherwise wouldn’t even be able to consider a career as a doctor.
For prospective students, especially those looking at graduate programs, make sure you check out direct loan and grant options to increase affordability even further.
To see AUSOMA’s prices click here.
3.) Small Class Sizes
Many mainland American universities are packed full to maximize profits. An American medical school might have hundreds of students for a single medical sciences course. However, Caribbean medical schools’ emphasis on accessibility often translates to much smaller class sizes. For students that head down south for their education, the days of packed classrooms are over. A Caribbean medical university offers all the 1-on-1 time necessary for a student to truly gain an understanding of a rigorous course. Your education is truly their top priority.
4.) Prestigious Schools & Accredited Programs
There is a stigma in the medical school field that students who choose to go to Caribbean medical schools are somehow lesser than their American colleagues. That they are the cast-off detritus that couldn’t survive the “more prestigious” American institutions. Maybe this was true many decades ago, but now Caribbean schools are graduating some of the best and brightest young doctors in the world and setting them up with superb clinical rotations.
However, it is important to note that every school is different, and there are certainly ones who continue to give all Caribbean medical schools a bad name. Let’s look at the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). For US students, 94% pass it on their first attempt, while internationally, 72% do. For Caribbean schools, there is a wide variety of pass percentages. The highest pass rate for a Caribbean school is around 85%, but the lowest falls below 20%. What does this mean? That a prospective student should do ample research before picking a school to guarantee their preferred residency match.
In the Caribbean, there are a big four of St. George, American University School of Medicine, SABA, and Ross, with the newer American University School of Medicine Aruba (AUSOMA) starting to join that elite tier. Start your search with those five and expand outward to others. Also, keep in mind where you want your residency. Not all states have the same accreditation requirements; be sure to check your state’s local policy.
5.) Study Abroad Safely
Another reason to consider a school in the Caribbean is the chance to study abroad. Seeing a bit of the world can be really important to a prospective doctor as it gives them an added perspective to the world and a bigger picture of the importance of what they are doing. But studying abroad can be difficult too. An offshore medical school can be far from home and often not as safe as American schools.
In the Caribbean, you’re never more than a short flight away from your loved ones.
While internationally located, Caribbean medical schools offer the ease of being near the American mainland with all the luxuries of a first-world resort paradise. They are safe, clean, and primarily English-speaking. While the Islands are clearly very different than the US homeland, they provide all the convenience of the US. Flights back to every major city United States are both regular and affordable, making it easy to travel back home for holidays.
Additionally, although they are “Caribbean” medical schools, their residency programs and clinical rotations are almost always matched with American counterparts meaning that students will be abroad for only a couple of years, not for the whole process.
6.) Easier Admission Requirements
American medical schools’ admission requirements are infamously demanding. With not enough slots for all the students, they have to thin the pool by only letting in students who meet a certain MCAT and GPA standards. For students who maybe had a rough freshmen year of college or perhaps have anxiety about tests, their door to becoming a doctor can be shut in their face before their journey can even begin.
Caribbean medical schools offer a second chance to students who are serious about becoming a doctor. With lower admission standards than American universities, they open back that door to students who are willing to put in the hard work. Just like an American university, however, each med school has different requirements, so it is essential to look at the admission processes for each school. Almost all are starting to follow the American curriculum requirement, including pre-med courses and a four-year degree. Some also require MCAT scores. Reach out to schools’ admission representatives, and they will be able to provide you a comprehensive list of requirements.
7.) A Great Job Waiting for You
This last one is really the reason for going to medical school, to begin with – to become a doctor. A crucial step in that journey is the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP). There certainly is a stigma against Caribbean schools, and on the surface, it actually looks justified. Just over 50% of graduates from Caribbean medical schools were able to find a match through the (NRMP). This is compared to the 90% success rate for American institutions.
That’s only a piece of the story, however. Just like there is a significant difference in passing rates for the USMLE among Caribbean med schools, the NRMP rate varies widely too. A prospective medical student should contact individual schools about their rates, but even for schools that fall short of that 90% mark, there is still opportunity.
With persistence and dedication, top-tier graduates from a Caribbean medical school should have no problem competing for residencies in the United States’ healthcare system. It’s also important to note that certain focuses are more competitive than other ones. So, students in a more specialized field such as cardiology or dermatology should be more careful about their selection than students who are eyeing a more general focus in medicine to have a higher chance at locking down their preferred residency spot.
There are many schools and many islands in the Caribbean sea, but one of the most beautiful is Aruba. Located just fifteen miles off the Venezuela coastline, Aruba is the resplendent jewel of the Southern Caribbean. There are actually three medical universities on the island, Xavier University of Medicine, Aureus University School of Medicine, and the American University School of Medicine Aruba.
Whether you’re a recent high school graduate who needs to tackle introductory science courses or a college grad who’s already completed their pre-med studies, there’s never been a better time to discover everything the top Caribbean medical school can offer! With affordable tuition rates, dedicated faculty, a sterling residency program, and a beautiful campus, you’ll get the education you’ve always dreamed of at AUSOMA. To kickstart your education in basic sciences, clinical sciences, and medicine, apply to AUSOMA courses today!