Despite being a noble profession, there is an immense lack of qualified doctors in the world including some leading nations like the US. The Association of Medical Colleges in the US predicts that there can be a shortage of 54,000 to 139,000 physicians by 2023.
However, this shortage is not translating directly to an increased number of medical school applicants. AAMC data suggest that only 41% of applicants were granted a seat in a medical college. The astronomical tuition fees of medical degrees and stricter eligibility criteria every year are further adding to the problem.
In this scenario, applying to a Caribbean medical school can be an appealing idea. This can be because they charge significantly lower tuition fees and have higher acceptance rates than medical colleges in the USA.
Looking for an appropriate medical school in the Caribbean can however require lengthy consideration on many factors. Here are some criteria that can help you choose the right school for yourself.
- Accreditations and recognition: Accreditations and recognition are highly important to consider the quality of a medical school. Numerous accreditations show that the medical school has met all the standards for offering a medical degree. Accreditations from international medical bodies also ensure that your degree will be universally recognized. You can usually check the accreditations and recognition received by the school on its website.
- Accessibility to Federal student loans: Although tuition fees for medical school are slightly cheaper in the Caribbean, they can still be out of reach for some students. AAMC data show that more than 73% of medical students graduate with substantial debt. If a medical college in the Caribbean has access to federal loans, it can help its students lower their debt by deferring payments and getting lower interest rates. You can contact the admissions office of your preferred schools to check if they offer federal student loans.
- Affiliations for clinical training: Clinical training constitutes a substantial part of medical training and is important for students to develop relevant practical skills. The standards of the teaching hospital playing host to clinical interns directly impact their education. Hence, you should opt for medical schools that have partnerships with the top teaching hospitals in the US and Canada for the clinical training of their students.
- USMLE Step 1 pass rate: The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) tests your medical knowledge and determines if you display the right skills to be a doctor. Passing the USMLE is mandatory for establishing a medical practice in the US. The USMLE Step 1 pass rate of a college tells you the number of students from the college who pass the exam. A good USMLE Step 1 pass rate is indicative of high academic standards of the medical college.
Apart from these factors, you should also look into the class sizes, facilities and amenities provided by the university and the experience and qualifications of their faculty. You can also factor in the residency placements of previous students to get a deeper insight into the quality of teaching and academics.
Choosing the right medical school can help you take off your medical career on a good note. Hence, ensure that your preferred Caribbean medical school meets all your expectations and priorities.