The ugly truth about Caribbean medical schools

Caribbean Medical Schools

Dear Dr. Wible,

I want to fill you in on what really goes on behind the scenes at my medical school and maybe you can help inform other students about what happens here before they make a huge mistake. If students slip between the cracks of a US med school, then international med schools in the Caribbean may be the next choice. Some have better residency match rates than others so beware. Mind you, your choice of residency is skewed a bit coming down here, but again there are ways to work your way through internal medicine and find a fellowship of your choice, it is just a tougher and longer road. 

My school allows 1000 students a year in on average at the start of each August class. They let in about 700 for the January starting class which are on different schedules and have a smaller lecture hall to accommodate a smaller class. My starting class began with 1100 students, we are down to 650, meaning 59 percent of my class that I started the first day here with are still here to finish off our second year. The class of 700, starting in January, finished with around 450, meaning about 64 percent of their class made it from day 1 to the last day of year 2. US med schools have about a 1-2% attrition rate, we have on average a 40% attrition rate. The problem I have with this is that our school allows students to take on 40K per semester of debt just to dismiss them after 4 or 5 semesters if they fall below an overall GPA below a 75% or having a final grade of below 70% in any one class. If a student does fall below either mark students may or may not be allowed to decel, which means repeating the failed class; however, this looks bad on a residency app and if one fails again they are almost certainly dismissed (rare exceptions). 

So, why are so many students failing or dropping out? 

1) Students are literally mashed into a lecture hall which seats 900 and there are over 1000 students that must click in for mandatory lecture which is 80% of all lectures. If one falls below 80% attendance they are automatically failed in the course. The stress of clicking in, finding a seat, and waiting in lines on a campus that can’t accommodate this many people is a reason for the students who drop out in the first few weeks, which my school has statistics on and they know this will happen after years of practicing the purposeful overcrowding. This is a business for profit medical school and profit definitely comes before the well being of any student.

2) The mandatory lectures are nearly pathetic. There are usually so many mistakes made by the inexperienced professors, the lecture becomes confusing and muddled. Students are used to having brilliant or at least decent professors. When they see the quality of tutelage and mix that with the stress and workload, the second round of students drop out by midterms.

3) There are not enough dorms on campus to house this many students. Our school placed a random selection of students in a motel 5 miles from campus. There were no laundry services, no ovens, and a shared floor bathroom. Some were disappointed about only having a hotplate and microwave to cook with. This added with the intense work load and adaptation into the pace of medical school is the third round of students to drop out.

After about a month the class will be down to 900 or so. These are the students who started something and are going to finish, even if it means living in a box.

With 900 students how did we get down to 650? They turn the heat up in term 2/3/4 and have a system of questions and statistics for each question they put on their tests so that they fall within the number of students they need to remain to hit their margins. If they need to cut down class size numbers, the heads of the departments are told to use a more difficult test bank by the Dean. Mind you, I’m very close with the head of several departments and we have discussed this for hours, and our disapproval of the methods they use to keep within their budget. We only have 600 positions open for clinical rotations so 50 more students will have to go this term in order to make the numbers right. The school has to have this 40 percent attrition rate to fund the paid positions for our clinical rotations in the US. 

4) IMG’s [International Medical Graduates] have to score an avg. of 10 points higher on the step than a US med grad for an equal position in the US residency match. The avg. US step score is 224. We have to get a 230 usually just to get looked at. Another fact they purposely kept from us until our term 4. Why can’t anybody find the true numbers of this school online? They do not post them. If they did they wouldn’t have the demand they do now because if we were given all of the facts, some us would have chosen a field within health care that doesn’t require this amount of chance, debt, stress, and moral compromise. 

5) Students who can not self study and teach themselves the material fail. Students at my school must teach themselves what they need to know. We are given a vague outline and need to get through the tests and STEP with high scores. We actively search for resources to help fill in the gaps our school leaves. About 30% of the class has headphones on during lecture listening to an outside source and just click in for the attendance question. 

6) Emotional distress/burnout/sickness… This is the area that caught me off guard. I had a medical condition that required hospitalization. The staff is disconnected and said either repeat the term after you seek medical attention or just quit. My advisor told me to “just quit, it isn’t for everybody and it only gets harder.” (thank gawd I didn’t listen to her.) I was in shock and started crying like I never had before. All of that work for someone to tell you to “just quit.” I then went into a depression and felt numb. I luckily met you, Dr. Wible, and found out there were options for these feelings and that I was not alone in this process, med school can be hard…. The others that leave really do just get sick of the abuse and the stress and just zone out. The toughest part about them leaving after a few terms is that the debt has mounted and they have to start repaying their loans 6 months after they quit. It is kind of a vicious circle.

In my opinion I wouldn’t “recommend” my school to any of my friends or family. Im against what they stand for and do not believe in my school. They throw us all against the wall and whoever sticks gets to stay, whoever falls they leave behind. This is for money and I don’t believe it is good for humans to go through this type of abuse while in training to help others. The negative attitude predominates on campus, so I chose to live off campus with success driven students to escape it.  

So why come here? TO BECOME A FREAKIN’ DOCTOR, THAT IS WHY!!!!!!!!! I remember studying homeless in the park for the MCAT with a head flashlight on. Now that Im in my last semester it seems all worth it. Every bit of it. There are waterfalls, beaches all over, fruit stands, rum shops, paddle boarding, night clubs, beautiful views at the campus, good people, and lots of fun to keep you sane while you’re putting in what is most likely the toughest two years of life. It is stressful but it is ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU PUT INTO IT!!!! If you want a 250 STEP 1 score you work for it. If you want to be a surgeon you work for it, if you want to serve the underserved, you guessed it, YOU WORK FOR IT!! I worked my tail off to get to this point and I feel accomplished now. 

I feel like I can do the most good from this position. I could be a nurse, PA, NP, EMT, or any other health care provider but I want to make some changes in this world and this puts you in the driver seat to do so. My school is now helping out this term and they want to see the students who made it though their process succeed. They are smiling now and so are most students. It is sad to see friends that didn’t make it, but most of the ones that I know failed because they held onto a negative attitude, expected others to do the work for them, got into substance abuse and night life, or simply just didn’t want it bad enough to sacrifice everything for this dream.

The reason I don’t “recommend” it is because I believe students, friends, family should explore and exhaust every option before coming here. I rushed into it and wanted to get started ASAP and paid the price. But if this were my last option to becoming a physician I would still probably do it out of determination. So it can be done, there WILL be hardships, difficulties, confusion, fear, and stress. But if you work as hard as you can and make it through the process. If students do choose this route, they must prepare an emotional support team, an exercise plan for keeping body and mind healthy, and perhaps a mentor to help get adapted to the school.

Please publish my letter if you feel it will help others. And keep doing everything you do for medical students. Please. We need you.

Sincerely

~ David

Pamela Wible, M.D., reports on human rights violations in medicine and what really goes on behind the scenes in medical training and culture. View her TEDMED talk Why doctors kill themselves. Need help? Contact Dr. Wible.

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63 comments on “The ugly truth about Caribbean medical schools
  1. This is a heart-breaking and extremely enlightening, all wrapped into one. When I was applying to medical school there were so many of my undergraduate friends going off-shore to these schools. The follow-up, some 20 years later, is that the majority of them are frustrated, burned-out and wondering what they have done to themselves. My advice, like the author of the article, is to do something else for a bit. Go get a Master’s degree and reapply in 2 years. It’s such a long haul, there really isn’t any reason to jump into a less than perfect scenario.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks for writing Elizabeth. There are terrible emotional and financial consequences when informed consent is lacking as these idealistic humanitarians forge ahead off shore toward their medical degrees. So many fractured lives and lost dreams. I can not even imagine being able to sleep at night if I ran a medical school with a 40% fail rate. Thinking of all those young people with 100-200K+ debt and no degree of any use is just tragic! No words.

      • Jon Doe says:

        Everything that they have to say about the Caribbean school life is right on. I withdrew from AUA my second semester this year,because I saw that many of my upper med friends were facing the harsh reality of what would become a broken dream and needless to say massive student loan debt. In my first semester at AUA, last semester only 20% of my class of about 500 (I may be off on the class size number but it pretty close) passed. They will not post that on their wonderful brochures! AUA is one of “the big fours” and this is how AUA works. As a student last semester you had four courses and in order to move on to the next semester you had to pass all classes with a 70%, if you did not pass one class, then if you failed the course but fell within a 65% you can take a remedial which I have heard is extremely difficult to pass. If you did not pass the remedial, then you either had to repeat the entire semester or its over.
        This semester in my semester two class there were 130ish students. How can it be a 80% attrition rate then. You see 20% of the beginning class of about 500 moves on to semester two, that is about 100 students the other 30ish students are students that were in semester 2 and had to repeat semester 2 because they did not make it onto semester 3. In essence, the class is composed of repeaters and non repeaters. A new curriculum came into play for the semester 1 students this semester. Curriculum Next is what they call it, well you know what they decided to do. They decided that since material in semester 2 was now going to be taught to semester 1 and material that was taught in semester 1 was now going to be taught in semester 2, well the students in semester 2 that failed semester 2 would now have to start from square one. Yes, you read it right, semester 1. They would not be allowed to repeat semester 2 because as I had mentioned, the material that was taught in semester 2 was now going to be taught to semester 1 students with the new curriculum in place. If they qualified of course. As for the new students in semester 1 with the new curriculum, this is what they decided to do in order to keep raking in the money without having to show up for an attrition rate as last semester. It appears to be that the institution was having issues with processing the federal loans due to the high attrition rate. That is the speculation, but no one will really tell you what will be going on or at least want to tell you. But rest assured that they had been red flagged by the U.S department of education. So what did the school decide to do, well they decided that they would allow students in semester 1 to move on to the next semester as long as they got a grade higher than 35% overall, but here is the catch, at the end of the second semester you had to get an overall grade of 70% in order to move on to semester 3. If the student did not attain that 70% then: A.) it would be all over or B.) you were given the option to give it a second try, but you had to start all the way from semester one. And you guessed it, what does that mean? More money for the school etc. They have great resources and a few really great professors that truly do care about you and your education. I think it is a huge red flag when even some of your professors are telling you that they feel bad that we the students are being put up through all that. Compared to other schools I must say AUA does have good resources and facilities. But that is just a facade so that it seems like everything there is good. In all honesty, AUA is all about the money. I figured that being at AUA was not healthy for me anymore, I was not happy, not eating well, not sleeping well. I did well but still the rude awakening of seeing how all they care about is the money and not the student was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They even have a clause in the student handbook that states how they can make any changes to the handbook whenever they want. They do not have to tell the student. They can change the grading layout the number of exams they plan to give a semester. Which they did by the way to the semester 1 students. They originally had 4 exams scheduled for the students, then they changed it to 2 exams. Overall, I decided that I would withdraw and I would try getting into a U.S Medical school. I worked my behind off while being there and most certainly can do so to get into a U.S Medical school. Sadly some of my friends are figuring this out the hard way, many of which have fallen into alcohol or drug abuse etc…simply to deal with the stress and everything that they have to put up with at this school. That in and of itself was also a harsh blow, because you meet them a certain way and slowly you see that flame or spark that they had within them (when you all arrived on the island) dies or is in the process of dying out. You begin to question is it that they do not want to do medicine anymore? Perhaps that is true for some, but for many the fact that they realize that a school has just trashed their dreams or making it extremely difficult for them to attain it, is heartbreaking. It is not that they are not intelligent, believe me I have met really intelligent individuals while being there. I have made lifelong friends also. Some that are very close to making it out of there, but still need to face with taking the USMLE Step 1 exam, which I have heard of success and not so successful stories. We all know how important that test is, it pretty much defines what career specialty you will be able to get into. If you wanted to be a dermatologist and got a 230 on Step, it is the equivalent of saying “good luck knowing you,” “you will not be able be a dermatologist.”…”Maybe internal medicine is good for you!” All in all, that is how it is. I sure wish I would have been told about this before going there. I do not regret the fact that I met wonderful people, while being there. I do not. Would I do it again? Now that is a question that I still do not have an answer for, I mean had I not gone I would have never of met the amazing people who I know call friends. That I do not regret one second.

        Overall, I hope that this gives you a better insight on the Caribbean School life. Thanks for reading!

        • Tash says:

          I also withdrew from AUA but I withdrew before the end of the first semester. I totally agree with everything you’ve stated and I’m glad I withdrew when I did because that one semester cost me $30,000. My situation was unique in the sense that I was a nontraditional student married with two kids. My family did not move to Antigua with me because Antigua, unlike other Caribbean islands is not very welcoming to foreigners. AUA also did not have any family support structures in place. It was very difficult for me emotionally to be away from my family so inevitably, I chose my family over medical school. Now, I am trying to pick up the pieces to get back on track to pursue my dream of becoming a physician. I don’t regret my experience at AUA because it was simply confirmation that becoming a physician is my destiny. I actually enjoyed my med 1 courses and like you’ve mentioned, I met some amazing people.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is right on the money!
    Sounds like St. George’s University to me.

    I am almost one year post-Grenada (doing my clinical rotations in the U.S.) and I still have recurring nightmares of failing out of SGU (with 200,000+ of debt).

    I am one of the ‘lucky’ few who actually passed the first two years of school in Grenada, at SGU.

    EVERY single one of my friends either:

    a. Failed out
    (some after repeating terms) (all carry huge amounts of burdensome debt, often financed through the US Federal Loan program)

    b. Lost their minds
    (two friends went to rehab for alcohol/drug use)
    (six friends, probably a whole lot more, started antidepressants within the first year in Grenada)
    (many friends had full blown meltdowns/psychotic breaks/personality changes in the first 2 years)

    c. Lost their dream

    more to come

  3. Jane Doe says:

    Let me give you a brief history about myself. I am from Nigeria and after high school, I moved to the United States for undergrad. I graduated from the University of Toledo with a BSc. in Human Biology. My parents were barely able to pay my tuition in America because my country went into a recession and exchange rates skyrocketed. I knew it would be impossible to afford a US medical school so I opted for the cheaper Caribbean medical schools. Coming from 3rd world country, I will tell you that a Caribbean medical school is like heaven compared to what I went through in Nigeria. Yes, I agree with you that Caribbean schools aren’t even half as good as the U.S counterparts but at the end of the day, you are responsible for your success regardless of what school you attend – U.S or Caribbean. I would challenge you to speak with doctors in America now (brilliant doctors I may add) who attained their medical degrees from Nigeria and ask them what life as a medical student in Nigeria was like. They will ALL tell you it was HELL. There are no textbooks, no study materials, the lecture hall has a capacity of 200 students but there are 1,000 students (so a good number will be “wharfed” eventually), there is no electricity to study with, there is no internet, accommodation was always a problem so you might end up squatting in a tiny room with at least 5 people, you get ONE big exam per course at the end of the entire semester (nothing like midterms cos professors are too lazy for that), there are professors who will NEVER award an A regardless of how good a student is, then there’s the dean of the department who will announce to the incoming class that “they didn’t graduate with a first class (magna/summa cum laude) in their time so if you’re in this class hoping for such grades, you should dreamless because he does NOT award such in the department”…and a laundry list of other adversities facing medical students in Nigeria yet they prevail and become one of the most brilliant doctors I’ve ever seen. A lot of things the OP mentioned are things that are common to a lot of medical schools, not just Caribbean med.schools (and it sounds like he attends one of the “big fours”). I am in a Caribbean medical school and 2 of my friends from Toledo are US citizens so they were able to get into US medical schools but I couldn’t. I have taken step1 and I performed better than my 2 friends in the US and I also performed well above the US average. Like I said earlier, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN SUCCESS regardless of where you attend medical school. If you are able to get into a US medical school, then by all means, go for it. But if you’re not privileged to, then when you get to the Caribbean medical school, you forge past all these obstacles and do what you have to do – STUDY STUDY STUDY like your life depended on it and you will make it into the competitive pool.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Wow. Unreal. May I ask what the tuition is in Nigerian medical schools? Are students aware coming in what the situation is there? Or is it a surprise the poor conditions?

      • Jane Doe says:

        In Nigeria, it’s sad to say that almost every single medical school is like that. I have friends who are in medical school there right now but the professor’s note is from 2005. I scratch my head like “I know medicine has advanced since 2005” so I end up sending them my “Caribbean” notes/study materials…but I don’t want to make this post about Nigerian medical schools. Let me stay focused on the Caribbean ones.

        There is no Caribbean school that will tell you there is a 40% fail out rate in their school. This is a business to them so they highlight only the good to lure you in. It is up to you to do your research before embarking on that journey. People fail to do this homework and that’s why they have a rude awakening when they get on the island.

        Also (and i will speak for my school), a lot of medical students come here and they are “living the party island life” forgetting what they really are here for. They party all night and are barely able to make it to lectures the next day. These Caribbean programs are fast-paced so if you miss a class, you miss a lot and it’s hard to catch up. These are the students that complain and say “our school did nothing for them.” After the island phase, a lot of people take the Kaplan review course and someone told me they learned more in 7weeks of Kaplan than they did in school. My response was “maybe if you attended classes consistently, you would have learned a thing or two.” I will tell you from experience that if you put in the effort and my professors see you giving it your all, they will GLADLY help you. In my first semester, I was so sad to be away from home I barely passed my first midterms…but that was a wake-up call for me to work harder which I did. My parents always tell me “those students who perform really well don’t have two heads…so you can do it too”

        • Pamela Wible MD says:

          Thanks for the additional insight. What is the tuition for Nigerian med schools? I would hope very much cheaper than others given your description above. Also how would students find out the truth? Online search? Are current students honest with them during the interview process?

          • Jane Doe says:

            Oh yeah, it is dirt cheap in Nigeria and when you convert it to dollars it’s not up to $1,000/semester.

            Most schools will have a facebook group so if you’re looking to get into one, join those groups and ask questions. Also, you can ask the faculty to hook you up with a few ex-students who have matched (this is what I did) and honestly it was their advice I let sink in my head more than the negatives. A few prospective students have contacted me on facebook and asked for my candid opinion of my school. In summary, I tell them to “be prepared to work HARD cos this isn’t a walk in the park.”

        • Tobi says:

          Hi, I am also Nigerian who is currently enrolled in a Canadian university and considering the Caribbean after my undergraduate degree I would be glad to speak with you.
          Thank you.

        • Amaka says:

          Hello, I’m nigerian as well. I have a B.sc in human anatomy and wish to study medicine in a carribean university because they are cheaper than the those in the US and better than most of our Universities over here. I wish to know what University over there in the caribbeans you would recommend from your own cognition and what school you attend now.

        • Ifeanyi says:

          Hi,Jane, I’m from Nigeria and also a prospective medical student in one of the medical schools in the Caribbean. If you don’t mind I’ll like to talk to you as regards getting an MD degree in the Caribbean. Could you please provide me with your contact or social media profiles.

    • Neville Kabangu says:

      You’re totally right! I am from the Congo and over there medical studies are really hell! If you finish one academic year you should be grateful to God because most of the students can’t even finish the first year because of the poor organization and sometimes academic years are extended for no reason.Currently I am studying biochemistry in the US and I don’t want my parents to spend so much money in my medical studies in the US while my younger brothers and sisters will go to college too. Although the Caribbean medical schools are not as good as the American ones, i’m thinking about studying medicine over there because I want to be a doctor so badly and i’ll Work really hard for it.

  4. Donald Turken, MD says:

    Hi Pamela-this student does not indicate which Caribbean medical school he/she attended, Grenada or Dominica or others. This person did not do due diligence homework before going. I was in Mexico 1976 at the most recognized of ‘foreign’ medical schools, Universidad Autonoma Guadalajara. I am an FMG. That decade saw the peak of US students abroad across the globe but mostly Mexico/Carib, although most were in Guadalajara. We were about 5000 US/Canadian students alone. There were congressional attempts to stem to the tide ‘offshore’. AMCAS, AAMC etc. There was a push by physicians daddys NY/NJ, too, which caused Grenada to open. (within a couple years Reagan sent in the troops to counter a Cuban invasion of the island. Now the term is IMG. a year or so ago I was contacted by a USFMG in Colorado who had gone to the Caribbean and was struggling for an internship. I counseled what I could before and after seeing this candidates papers; another unrelated position has been found and those years in the Carib are history. Your author here started without information and had not realized how stacked was/is the deck and what is the numbers game. I hope he/she has a plan B well underway in some allied, or other, field. Cheers-Donald

  5. zainab says:

    As with everything, offshore medical education like that in Caribbean countries is not a monolith. needless to say, thousands thrive, do well on the USMLE and match into competitive residency programs while others fail out or are unable to match in the US. while i sympathtise with this person’s experience, his experience is not mine or that of many other colleagues of mine that went to Caribbean medical schools. the problem is it can be hard to know the full truth if one didnt do proper research on their school or never met an alumni. there are also other factors that make a student decide on their school like the cost of tution.
    furthermore, just like the schools are different, there is also a wide range of students that attend schools in the caribbean, ranging from excellent students who would have been able to get into US medical schools, given the opprtunity to other students who has no business in medical school in the first place.the problem is many of the school, out of greed i guess, relax their admission requirements and so the curriculum or reality of medical school ends up weeding out many. unfortunately, these students are left with debt and broken hearts. i do wish more schools in the caribbean had more integrity in the kind of students they admit. All in all, i have no regrets about attending one, a caribbean medical school gave me and many others who matched into good residency spots, a shot at our dream. As with anything, proceed with caution. medical school is not a bed or roses anywhere. if u can get into med school in the US, of course u should go to school in the US, but if like me, u had a foreign undergrad degree and the idea of US medical rotations/the chance to practice in the US appeals to you, then research a caribbean school that suits u. my 25 cents.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks Zainab. Agree. Hard to paint with a broad stroke here as so many factors are involved; however, the main point that I think we can all agree on is that these schools should not be deceptive with students. Tell the truth on attrition rates at a minimum.

      • zainab says:

        these are for-profit,agggresively capitalistic, morally-bankrupt organisations. they never reveal the attrition rates and i dont think they’ll start anytime soon. also, as long as they keep admitting the student with the 1.9gpa and no mcat to compete with the perfect gpa student with multiple research publications, etc to be in the same class, then the attrition rate will stay high. its unfortunate.

        • Pamela Wible MD says:

          That’s unbelievable. You are not exaggerating? You’ve met 1.9 GPA no-MCAT med students. Surely some of the Caribbean schools are not so morally bankrupt.

          • zainab ainajoshua says:

            I wish i could say it wasnt true. Particularly in a newly-established school trying to increase their class size(s). The strategy some of the schools will employ is to just admit ‘anyone’ with a bioscience background. Then with time, they harden their requirements when they are satisfied with their applicant pool.the poor student gets to be a ‘future doctor’ for a while till the reality of med school or residency competition catches up with them

          • Pamela Wible MD says:

            So unfair, I guess they bank (literally) on the naiveté of youth. I also understand that loans are not as easy to get for foreign med schools.

  6. DT says:

    Yes, I was a student at a Caribbean medical school. I left after the first semester because I could see the dangerous journey I was embarking on. I know countless ex-caribe Med students that are in limbo now and owe thousands of dollars in loans with nothing to show for it!. Sadly, medicine as we know it today, is a business from start to finish. That’s not what I signed up for. I started my medical training in the Caribbean, with a class of 120 but by the end of the 4th year, roughly only 20 actually graduate. This little fact is kept well hidden from the starting class until you’re actually there! Island conditions were diplorable and I personally had a room infested with cockroaches and spiders. Essentially, if you really want to become a physician and are willing to gamble away thousands of dollars of borrowed money and lose your health in the process, then Caribbean medical experience is the place to be! Trust me, there is a lot more to life than that.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      OMG. What’s the math on that??? 16% graduation rate??? That is so effed. What school if you don’t mind sharing.

    • Sine Ananlysis says:

      Many that drop out or kicked out of med school go onto finish school at another lower tiered school. There are multiple alternative routes to getting your med school degree. Residency is a whole ‘nother set of problems but finishing med school at one or another school is not. I have friends who bombed out of the big three and did finish med school at an even lower tiered school. So if you got kicked out there, there is still a chance of finishing somewhere.

  7. Tori says:

    This student must have never taken the time to get to know a PA, NP, nurse, EMT, or any other healthcare provider for that matter, because these people are actually capable of making some changes in the world and almost all of us do. When you finally get out of your unfortunate didactic studies and get into rotations, maybe you’ll have some more respect for the other members of the healthcare world!

    Signed, a fellow PA-C (who never even applied for medical school, like most others, by the way, because we did not want to go to medical school)

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Thanks Tori. Question for ya: Are there Caribbean schools for PAs?? Or is it just MDs? DO schools are in the US (not Caribbean?). Who else goes to get trained at offshore schools I guess is the question. Nurses? EMTs?

  8. Your Colleague says:

    An excellent article by Dr. David, well written! I, too came from a Caribbean medical school and am almost finished with my residency training. Much of what he wrote resonated with me, and while reading it, was thinking, “yep, uh huh, saw that, experienced that…”. I will take it a step further by stating that many of these places, unfortunately, have wicked people who prey on the students due to the perception that they are wealthy foreigners. Too many times, have I heard of land lords charging foreign med students a much higher rent, or making them pay the land lord’s bills, or threatening to turn them over to the police. Furthermore, there are times where the law enforcement and other emergency response agencies are incompetent, prejudice, or straight up corrupt. I have seen and heard of students being robbed, raped, intentionally run over by vehicles, detained by law enforcement without cause, and students dying for stupid reasons because nobody would come to their rescue. I, myself had my apartment broken into at 3am and experienced face to face confrontation with the intruder. Perhaps these are rare and extreme occurrences but they are most certainly real.

    Can you imagine going through the stress and rigors of medical school while having to be constantly thinking about the $300,000 in med school loans PLUS any undergraduate loans, WHILE worrying about your own school turning on you, WHILE worrying about whether your land lord is going to extort you or not, WHILE worrying about getting beaten, raped, murdered, detained by corrupt law enforcement or just plain sick without reliable access to healthcare? No wonder why the attrition rate is so high, or why students turn to illicit or prescribed drugs to cope. Some even leave the islands with PTSD. Personally, I’m thankful for the experience because, despite the intense, God awful stress I endured. It made me so much more perceptive and empathetic to the pain and suffering of others. I cherish that lesson learned and hold it near and dear to my heart.

    My interpretation of Dr. David’s article is that he was making the point on the high attrition rate and questionable practices of for-profit medical schools. But the biggest take home message I received from this was that this is how we’re training our physicians in a time where we need heath care practitioners of all types more than ever. In general, the CULTURE of medicine and being a physician is ludicrous! How does competing for the highest grades, step scores, studying & working for 80, 90, 100+ hours per week, staying up for hours on end making life and death decisions lead to a properly trained, healthy, emotionally centered, happy physician who still has the capacity to love their patients and themselves? I’m still trying to understand the reasoning behind the current modal of physician training that we have.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      Antiquated fear-based meded model serving nobody. Why terrify these young people and pit them against one another in for-profit med schools. I’d never be able to sleep at night were I at the helm of one of these schools. Deceptive.

  9. Caribbean Student says:

    Hi Dr. Wible. I am a first semester student at a smaller but one of the big 5 Caribbean medical schools, and I agree with everything that has been shared in the article you have brought forward. Being an IMG is tough and being a Caribbean medical student, even tougher. But at the end of the day it comes down to motivation. Medicine is a very special calling and Caribbean medical schools are one final chance for students to explore whether medicine is really their calling.

    A little bit about me. I graduated last fall from undergrad with honors and distinction completing a double major. I had a diverse amount of extracurriculars with international medical missions. Overall I was a student with a steller academic and EC record. Yet, with only a 17% acceptance rate at Canadian medical schools, getting accepted to medical school amongst 13 000 applicants was like shooting a dart in the dark and hitting bullseye. In fact, the mental stress of not being able to pursue your dreams is far worse than the stress any medical student may face academically. I knew my calling was medicine and even after being well informed of the risks of attending an international medical school I applied and was accepted to every one I applied to without much troubles at all.

    What I am trying to get across is that yes caribbean medical schools are tough. The academic burden, lack of academic resources whether they be faculty or facility related and finally the uncertainty of getting through. The attrition is a very sad reality. But behind such ridiculous numbers lies some logical reasoning. First of all not everyone at a Caribbean medical school processes the appropriate academic competency to succeed. The end goal of these schools is to help the student pass the board and match into a residency. If schools were laxed about their academic standards and passing benchmarks, borderline passing students will get to their final years and after having spent the equivalent of a fully detached house on tuition they would end up not matching. I’m sure that this mental stress is perhaps the worst amongst all that we have discussed. But these are risk many motivated students like my self are willing to take in order to practice such a humble and noble profession.

    My advise to any pre-med is to be INFORMED. Which is exactly what you are doing and I so dearly respect you for all your efforts. A pre-med student must first assess their motivation and personal aptitude. Next they should assess how fast do they want to go. Getting into medical school in Canada is very tough, and less but still tough in the US. Luckily there are post-bac programs, special masters programs and even night pre-req classes available to pre-meds that are motivated but still just below the bench mark of being accepted. This also gives students to build personal and professional characteristics required to be a successful medical student while further exploring whether medicine is really their calling. I had confidence in my self and my competency hence I chose not to spend the extra time attempting at an acceptance to an onshore medical school, I’d rather get through the process so I can service humanity as a doctor that much more sooner and longer.

    But this is just my opinion. Am I breezing through school… of course not. But I am working hard and chasing a dream, certainly. I feel that no one who is truly motivated and belongs in the field of medicine can fail if they have such an attitude. Hence, I urge the many readers and exceptional pre-meds that have read the article you have brought forward to be informed but definitely not afraid to pursue their dream.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      I think what is missing is the transparency on the part of the schools. They should be clear about their attrition rate. Informed consent.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Dear Dr. Wible,

    I am writing to you to share my own perspective of Caribbean medical schools, as I am a student of Ross University and currently in my 4th year. I read the article that David wrote and I agree a lot with the things he wrote. Our school accepts a large number of students and it does tend to dwindle down and it is very unfortunate. I do believe that these schools tend to operate in a business type way, but I am also very grateful that these schools exist to give people like me a chance! I think it is terrible though that they let a surplus of students in, many who really may not qualify, hence giving them false hopes and leaving them with a large debt. So before applying, you absolutely have to RESEARCH! Know what you are getting into and be prepared. Compare the top 3 Caribbean schools (St. George, Ross, AUC) and pay attention to things such as environment, living situation, curriculum, and most importantly KNOW yourself. I couldn’t emphasize on that more. For example- can you go a day or two without showering in your apartment because there’s a water outage? How about an electrical outage? Are you okay with not having access to the mall or movie theatres? Are you the type of person that can adapt easily and those things don’t bother you? Dominica is a very underdeveloped island so it’s important to know what you are getting yourself into. St George and AUC on the other hand is on a more touristy island so there are more readily available goods and amenities. These factors are critical because if you are in an environment that you hate, it makes it very difficult to focus on studies and to maintain healthy mental health.

    If you are considering a Caribbean school, first I would strongly advise for you to apply to U.S schools first. Caribbean school should be your last resort and when you’ve decided it’s your last resort, make sure you compare the top 3 and see which suits you best (St. George, Ross, AUC). I only applied to Ross and St. George because I knew my chances to get into a U.S medical school was slim to none. I had a 2.75 GPA and my MCAT was below 30. I did a 1 year post-bacc program after undergrad and ended up with a 3.65 and still I knew my chances were low. In my heart though, I knew that if I was given the chance to prove myself, I would excel. Now that I’m at the end of my medical school, I can say I’ve done pretty well. I’ve gotten A’s and B’s in my first two years and so far all A’s for my core rotations and electives. I did well on my step 1 and step 2 CK exams..and now am just waiting for my step 2 CS scores. I think if you have no other option, Caribbeans is not a bad choice. I know of many students who do well and excel and even get residencies in big name hospitals. I remember an attending once told me that he preferred Caribbean students because he knows how hard we had to work to get to where we are now so that was nice to hear!

    When it comes to Caribbean medical schools, I think there are a lot of both pros and cons. I’ve always told myself that beggars can’t be choosers so yes..going to a Caribbean school, there will be a ton of obstacles. You’ll always have to fight and be your own advocate but I can’t complain because without them, I wouldn’t be getting my degree next year! Apply to them knowing that there is a high attrition rate, but also know that if you work hard and you stay focused, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t succeed. Also keep in mind that these schools do let a surplus of students in, even students who don’t quality. The students that I saw who didn’t do well were: students who didn’t care for medicine and they were simply doing it because it was their last resort, english wasn’t their first language, students who got into toxic relationships, and students who put partying before their studies. Now, if you have the scores to go in the states, then definitely apply! If you are like me and know you won’t have a chance in the states merely because of hiccups that you’ve had in your undergraduate school, the Caribbeans is really not a bad place.

    If anyone has specific questions regarding lectures, housing, professors, etc., I’d be more than happy to answer them!

    • Amaka says:

      Please what caribbean med school do you attend?

    • Sridevi says:

      Are you aware of any colleges that offer medicine programs right after high school or the 12th grade as it is in India.

    • Eric vaive says:

      Hi,
      Thanks got the info. I’m a 41 year old commercial pilot. Just lost my license because of slightly poor eye sight.
      Thinking Med school.
      I’d love to pick your brain about Ross.
      Thanks Eric

    • Slim says:

      Hey,

      Thank you for taking the time to write this. I am currently in limbo with applying to Ross Univ. Do you mind telling me if your classes were huge like SGU or more manageable? I am hoping to enter the May 2018 Class. My background is similar to yours, post bac, decent 3.3 gpa in in UNdergrad and better GPA in post bac just low MCAT score. I have tons of research and Clinical exp as well. I have done my research on Carrib med schools and I do not think I would have an issue with the island life as my parents are from the carribean and I would love to hear what you have to say about class size esp anatomy classes, and professor relationships and well preparation for USMLE Step 1 program and clinical rotations. Like do you feel you were placed in a hospital where there was a good amount of patho-physiological diversified cases.

  11. Brady says:

    I graduated from St. George’s University in 2013. I managed to serve my two years on the island and another two years in Queens for clinical rotations. I feel that a lot of what was said above is a gross exaggeration. Does the school take two semesters worth of students totaling close to 2000/year? Yes. I’m not arguing. Perhaps they have changed their attendance requirements, but during my time, only the clinical skills class and labs were required. Otherwise, you could listen to the lectures from home.

    I won’t argue that a lot of students drop out. The school and curriculum aren’t that difficult. You just have to be willing to read and study EVERY day. Stop going to Bananas to party. Stop going to the beach every afternoon. The bulk of the people that didn’t make the cut either partied too much on the island or didn’t have the maturity to power through rote memorization. The school offers an introductory semester called “Foundations” or something like that. It is a somewhat watered down version of their first real semester. The school requires certain people with questionable ability to first go through that course. If they can make it, then they can try their hand at a real semester. The problem is, these people go in feeling overconfident because they passed the training wheels course. They don’t push themselves with studying.

    The author above complains about the lectures being terrible and no guidance is given to students. I’m not sure about his school, but SGU supplied outlines and powerpoints that were enough to learn from for the majority of the classes. Unfortunately for some, you do have to crack open a textbook once in awhile. An example of this is the pathology course. You can’t learn everything you need to know from powerpoint slides. You may have to sit down and open a book.

    The “hotel” that he is likely referring to is the original campus. It is walking distance to the main grocery store and it is literally on the beach. None of the facilities are amazing, but you actually can live with a hot plate and microwave without starving.

    While I didn’t particularly care for the island, it wasn’t the hell on earth that he’s describing. You keep your head down, study everyday, and hit the store once a week. That’s it. Two years will fly by. I even managed to train for a marathon down there. The heat and humidity is awful, but it made me very comfortable with the local area.

    Finally, residency positions are available for the people who work for them. The program I am in now is incredibly IMG friendly and they don’t look at test scores as closely as you think. Since it is a smaller program, they care more about being able to work with someone for 4 years. If you are socially awkward, then medicine is not right for you. You have to be able to speak to patients, colleagues, and represent your department without embarrassment. This is too much for some to handle and I’m sure they struggle to get a position.

    In short, study hard, don’t be awkward, and suck it up on the island. Do this and you’ll become a doctor.

    • Sgu grad says:

      You sound like you’ve been contacted by the faculty of sgu and asked to write a counter piece my friend. That’s what they used to do…I recall getting an email asking me to write something positive on a forum for them about…

    • Ursula Robertson says:

      I couldn’t agree more.St.George University School of Medicine is fabulous .Their system follows more of how Med School runs in Europe like Germany ,Switzerland or Britain.They give more qualified students a chance to succeed ,that probably in the US would have never had a chance to get into Med School. Especially with stats like 8000 applicants for 120 seats.That’s a joke,when a great number of those seats go to minorities .A student that is 24 or 25 years old doesn’t have the time to wait year after year to get in ” hopefully”. I have seen so many cases were everything was perfect,MCAT score,GPA ,work experience and still,he was placed on the waiting list .You asked yourself ,what more do they want ???
      Don’t listen to all the bad talk about Carribean Med Schools,just try to get into the right one.St.George in Grenada in my opinion is by far the best.There is also Ross in Dominica and American School of the Carribean in St. Marteen.Good luck!
      Now go and become a Doctor !!!!!

      • Dina says:

        Hello,
        I was recently accepted to SJSM in St. Vincent.
        I was wondering if you could give any information on that school if possible.
        Or if you know anyone who attended tat school.

  12. Pamela Wible MD says:

    Preying on idealistic humanitarians is a sick business model.

  13. White Water Rapids says:

    Sounds like SGU to me. What was neglected in the above illustration and below commentary was that you can study hard and study smart but if 40% have to go to maintain profit margins then 40% will go. You can put all your energies into studying and reap nothing. Intelligent people and the average joe have all fallen victim to such heinous practices. That school is a very wicked and evil place: admit as many as you can with the intention of failing hundreds to balance the books.

    And not only Americans and Canadians fall victim, people of all other nationalities do so too. In fact they may be targeted first. How is a student from South Africa going to challenge a wrongful dismissal? In which court and where?

    Will anything ever be done about that evil institution?

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      “Will anything ever be done about that evil institution?” When we unite as a profession to PROTECT one another and not allow our colleagues to fall and be preyed upon we will finally have real health care. It starts with us and our behavior with each other. Inhumane and cruel organizations and human rights violations in medicine need to stop. Forthcoming film will start the long overdue conversation about HOW we treat and train our healers: http://donoharmfilm.com/

      It is my mission. Have faith & please join me.

      • Noche says:

        You are literally amazzzzing. Are you real? How did you manage to keep your soul? So many of my colleagues are just a shell of themselves, though prior to med school they too were healers and humanitarians. I would like to work with you. I share your vision and believe in your work. God bless you!

  14. Ursula Robertson says:

    My daughter goes to St.George University School of Medicine.I can only say good things.Their stats in USMLE passing rates are great much higher then US DO Schools.Resendency matching rates are fantastic.This School is harder to get in to,but highly recommend it.They post everything on line ,that you want to know,including name of student and resedency placed in by individual state in the US.The university is very organized,and makes best effort even for families,boyfriends of fiancées that have accompanied the Med or Vet Student for the 5 quarters they have to stay in Grenada.

    • Mike says:

      DO schools have their own board exam, the “COMLEX” which is a substitute for the USMLE. Some DO students do in fact take the USMLE as well, but a much smaller sample of DO students. Plus their schooling is oriented towards osteopathic medicine, slightly different (slightly), than what is tested on the USMLE. Same concepts, but emphasis on certain topics differ, which can change test scores. In response to residency match rates:
      the recent NRMP data showed horrible stats in the category of U.S. Citizen students/Grads of IMGs: 42.9% unmatched, compared to that of 18.3% unmatched of Osteopathic schools and 5.7% unmatched of Allopathic schools.

      This is borderline criminal that these stats aren’t made public or readily available to potential Caribbean Medical Students.

      I am not trying to be rude, I am just shocked, and deeply saddened that so many students (who are no different than myself, a medical student in the U.S.) are getting taken advantage of.

  15. Sarah says:

    Hello, please does any know about SABA university and if it is a good school because am thinking of applying there.

  16. Noche says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I attended a school like this in Grenada. It was hell, and they only cared about the money. This school charges $45k per term and once you get to clinicals it’s $60k per term. I saw them dismiss hard-working students who were already in 4th term and close to already over $300k in debt. It’s really sad. They know we want it so bad, so they literally pimp us and design the curriculum to weed out even good students. I compared our academic schedule to too schools in California, and we have an average if 3 to 4 weeks less time to study, and our modules are way shorter than US schools. It’s literally a curriculum on crack. My friends in Cali med schools couldn’t believe how many modules they were packing into our terms. It should be a LAST resort. They’re for profit. And I too would never recommend my school to a loved one. This is the best article I’ve ever read on the truth of such schools.

    • Pamela Wible MD says:

      These schools need to be INVESTIGATED and full transparency is needed. A business model that preys upon the hopes and dreams of our best and brightest compassionate young healers is one of the sickest things I’ve ever witnessed. I can’t believe that adults would allow such for-profit medical schools to continue like this! Unbelievable. Breaks my heart.

  17. M Hoffman says:

    There are many reasons US students end up pursuing a field in medicine at a Caribbean school and quite a few do make it through to become highly qualified practicing physicians. The competitiveness to get into a US school is unbelievable. You must compete with the affirmative action quotas whose candidates typically score below the average entry score for most schools. There are foreign nationals who also compete for the limited number of seats. These students usually pay 2 to 3 times more in tuition, so schools will typically allow them to apply and a certain number will get accepted further limiting available seats. There are also preferences given to the many other groups for one reason or another. Whether or not the system of selection is fair or not, those who will not let their dream dye, do consider attending a Caribbean med-school a serious option. I completed med-school at a Caribbean school and scored at or above the US average on all step exams. I am currently a staff physician at a hospital working along side doctors who graduated from some of the top schools in the United States. I also teach 2 med-school courses at a the university. I can tell you there are no competency gaps between me and my peers. I have qualified and met the exact same requirements at my peers to become a doctor, but you will have to work hard for it. It is no “give me”, but the path through a Caribbean med-school will get you there if you are willing to work hard.

  18. Meghan says:

    At the moment, I am considering matriculation to the American University of Antigua College of Medicine. Do you have any advice or information on this medical school? Everything I have found/researched looks promising.

  19. ProudFather says:

    As a proud father of a US Caribbean medical school student, I can say that at least this one Caribbean medical school has provided the opportunity for my son to become an excellent doctor equal to anyone including myself (I am a graduate of a US medical school and a board certified specialist). I visited 3 times during his first two years. They have excellent facilities and high tech. We know that US medical schools are not the ivory towers either. One admissions director friend of mine, told me that they only accept a certain GPA and MCAT score because in the end they have to be accredited and to be accredited that 99% of their students need to graduate and obtain their medical license after graduation. I guess that is the most important thing is accreditation – not necessarily the US medical schools are producing great doctors. – anyone else sorry and naturally they have low attrition rates. Yet many of these new graduates don’t have the skills to take care of their patients. What about all the heartaches that they cause every year to thousands of applicants. Some who have to apply multiple years or start a new career (i.e. EMT, nurse) until they can get into a US medical school. We have a shortage of doctors in the US and yet they are unable to increase the numbers? Sounds like a monopoly.

    That is why Caribbean medical schools offer an alternative. There is no guarantee of anything in life (unless you are accepted into a US medical school then you are guaranteed 99% chance of graduation and a fast-track to a residency). I know of at least one good Caribbean medical school. I can’t vouch for the others. However, I will not mention its name because I have seen others in this comment section malign and accuse others of being paid or asked by the school to do this. This Caribbean medical school has provided my son both the hope and the knowledge to succeed. For those willing to succeed and work hard this school has provided an opportunity for that dream. He is one of the best (if not the best) medical student in his clinical rotations out of almost 100 medical students at a well-known US medical teaching ccenter. I just hope that the medical community and especially the medical educational community (residencies) can get rid of their prejudices in providing an unfair advantages to US medical school students. There is no ugly truth, but hope and that is worth a great deal.

  20. Nadia says:

    Everything that they have to say about the Caribbean school life it is some time true in Canada as I was studying in the hospital theater where no place to put your books and no place to charge computer due to university rented rooms for a money. However, Caribbean medical schools offer an alternative for people like my son, whom all grade in Canada’s university is 92% and over, and MCAT was on the top and he did not received any admission or even interview for admission to any Canada’s medical university due to this spot are offered for international student who pay more money. This is reality in Canada today.

  21. Rob says:

    I read this with great interest as a specialist trained in Quebec 35 years ago. I mentor medical students and have taught several from abroad. My son has dyslexia so could not succeed in his first choice…medicine. Instead, he applied himself and has a science post grad degree. He found a good job, just bought an expensive home downtown, and has a bright future. I feel burnt out and abused as a specialist. The medico legal climate is different today than when I started. I encourage you not to give up on your dreams but realize medical school is not your only option. You are obviously very smart if you are reading this post. Life is short so don’t spend forever trying to be a doctor and look seriously at other options which will keep you happy. Yes you can practice in 3rd world countries and love your work if you can’t get in in North America. Don’t be too hard on yourself because in the end life is what you make it.

  22. Edward Saint-Ivan says:

    Mountain State University of West Virginia was so HORRIBLE the university lost accreditation {they had a physician assistant program} so the grass is NOT always greener on the other side!

  23. CM says:

    I thought I’d offer a different perspective from a current M2 SGU student, in response to the points made in this post. I really could not relate to most of what is written here, and I know for certain that some of it is just factually incorrect. I assume things have either changed drastically between this person’s class and mine, or they have a very skewed perspective.

    (1) Yes, I’ve heard SGU did overfill one of their classes. However, they then added more seating and increased their use of the alternative learning track called “ITI” (basically allows students to learn in small groups instead of attending a traditional lecture.) I’ve personally never experienced having a lack of space in the lecture hall but I am a part of the significantly smaller January class (in fact, the row in my section of the lecture hall is entirely empty except 1 other person.) When it comes to other facilities around campus, since I’ve been here they’ve been constantly constructing new buildings and expanding space where they can.

    (2) Of course, some students complain about the lecture quality. However, if you actually look at the faculty and their experience, the vast majority of them are highly qualified. I attribute the negative reviews the fact that a good chunk of SGU students come in already expecting that anything that goes wrong is because the school is somehow inherently worse for being a Caribbean school. SGU employs professors who have taught at some very good universities. Their profiles are openly available on sgu.edu, just check them out. Additionally, SGU doesn’t just keep professors on for no reason; if students don’t perform well on standardized NBME exams or professors have way too many complaints, the school will get rid of them. SGU wants students to score well and stay (they don’t even charge you extra if you repeat a term because of poor performance.) Low attrition rates, and good performance on Step and in Rotations is why SGU has the ability to match so much better than any other Caribbean school.

    (3) Some of the claims that are made in this post are just flat out absurd and factually incorrect. SGU has an attrition rate of less than 10% — Again, the stats are available, just look at them on their website. Even if you don’t believe the stats that SGU publishes, then look at the match lists. It would literally be impossible for them University to match as many people as the do every year and have a 40% attrition rate. Even amongst my group of friends, I don’t know a single person who has dropped out of SGU. (for the record, I know 5 people who repeated a term) As an aside about the housing, if you are thinking about attending SGU, then don’t live on campus. My dorm room was fine, but imo it’s a waste of money and you can get something better and cheaper off campus.

    (4) Yes, IMGs from anywhere have to score higher on Step to get the same residency. If you are an IMG, you know this when you start med school. If you were surprised, I’m not sure why because for our class, they literally had a mandatory lecture in Term 1 where we learned all about WMPG correlation to Step scores, and why it was important for us to do well in order to get a residency. SGU pushes students to maintain above an 80%, because that correlates with ~220 >> the bare minimum that IMGs from SGU should get if they want to match into a non-competitive residency.

    (5) Students who cannot self study will fail? I can’t think of something further from the truth. I won’t go into every detail, but SGU’s Dept of Educational Services offers meets all throughout the week where students can learn the material that is being taught in class, in a smaller setting. Students can setup a meeting anytime with DES for advising/tutoring/etc.. The Honor society offers one-on-one tutoring for free. There are 10’s of upper term students who have groups where they help teach lower term students the material. If Psychological services are needed, they are also available for free. If a student is doing poorly, SGU will even move them into an entirely separate learning track where they learn the material in small groups instead of lecture halls. SGU is overflowing with FREE tutoring options, so this claim particularly perplexed me. In my opinion, if you can’t succeed at SGU, then you would absolutely never succeed at a US medical school. The school takes less qualified students, and with a <10% attrition rate, prepares us to match at a first time match rate of 93%. Yes, you may not get the specialty you wanted, but if you hadn’t come to SGU, you probably wouldn’t have been prepared to be a physician at all. (probably the one thing I agree on, in this article)

  24. Richard Woodyman ...not my real name says:

    This is obviously SGU lol for anybody who is not familiar with the Caribbean route.

    I went to SGU so I will offer my opinion if it helps you.

    Everything described here is true but if you are earning grades that are 80 or better, none of it will apply to you. Point being, don’t give SGU a reason to dismiss you. If you don’t give them a reason to, then you have a legitimate opportunity to become a practicing physician.

    Here’s the issue though…

    SGU is a second-chance medical school and you have to understand that in the most literal sense. SGU is not for people who want to become doctors but don’t have the academic prowess to make that happen. If you’re someone who has excellent grades and excellent test-taking skills, you will almost guaranteed match after four years. It might be primary care but you will be an MD as opposed to maybe going to PA school or some other area of healthcare. Look at the gainful employment disclosures on the websites of all the schools that have Title IV, just look at the field that says “% of those who completed the program on time.” SGU is about 66% which is laughable but oddly respectable compared to some other schools that are %50 and lower. That’s all you need to know; it essentially tells you everything. The Caribbean is high-risk but SGU gives you your best shot.

    Would I do it again? I don’t know how to answer that. I matched and I’m happy but it’s not a path I’d recommend to just anyone. I’d have to say that there was a certain element of chance with this whole experience. I worked hard throughout but there were those days where I didn’t think I passed an exam or if I could keep pushing myself.

    You’ll see all the positivity in the brochures and the information sessions but I can promise you it’s a very different experience at least when you’re on the island.

    It really is a giant risk but if it pays off, you will succeed.

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